Thursday, July 23, 2009

The White House Responds

I received the following two letters about the issue of Great Whales and other marine life being damaged irrevocably by military testing in the ocean. I also received a form response letter from Barack Obama's office, which is to be expected at least at first, on the issue of health care reform. The envelope from the White House was addressed by hand and both the Senator and the Representative to whom I wrote replied personally. I am sharing their responses to provide a resource and on-going demonstration of the power of citizen letter-writing.

"Dear Jadene,
Thank you for contacting me with your views. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents about the issues that matter to them most.
I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts regarding military testing off of the Oregon Coast. Protecting the environment and wildlife are two of my top priorities in Congress and I am disturbed by an action that threatens the health of either precious resources. You can be sure that I will continue to monitor this situation closely. I appreciate your advocacy on this important issue. Your opinions are important, and you can be sure that I will keep them in mind as I continue my work in Congress.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns.
Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress"

"Dear Ms. Fourman,
Thank you for contacting me about the Navy's proposed Northwest Training Range Complex (NWTRC) expansion. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. As you know, the proposed expansion of the NWTRC would include exercises with guided missile submarines and unmanned aerial systems. The military would implement new air and sea surface targets, new electronic signal emitters and development of a small-scale underweter training minefield. I was disappointed that the Navy initially appeared to intend to expand the NWTRC with minimal public input. I was joined by the Oregon Congressional delegation in February in requesting that the Navy extend the public comment period on their proposal, and that they schedule additional public meetings. The Navy agreed to extend their comment deadline until April 13, 2009, and held an additional meeting on their proposal in Tillamook.
While I am pleased that the Navy took these steps to provide the opportunity for greater public input, I still have many concerns about the environmental and economic impacts expansion of the NWTRC will have. On April 9, 2009, Senator Jeff Merkley and I sent a letter to the Navy outlining our concerns, including the economic health of fishing communities and the potential impacts on marine mammals and endangered species. I believe that these concerns must be balanced with our national defense needs, and I am hopeful the Navy will strike the appropriate balance. I look forward to hearing back from the Navy about our concerns. Please know that as I continue to follow the issue, I will keep your views in mind.
Thank you again for keeping me apprised of the issues that are important to you. If I may ever be of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Ron Wyden
United States Senator"

These letters are encouraging examples of typical responses from elected officials to citizen letters. I find it interesting how each official educates and invites further dialogue. StumbleUpon