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Maria Cantwell: U.S. Senator

In the first weeks of taking office, Senator Cantwell quickly established herself as an environmental leader by grilling attorney-general John Ashcroft about whether he would uphold the Roadless Rule. Ashcroft is gone, but Senator Cantwell is still fighting for clean air, clean water, forest protections, smart energy policy, and consumer safeguards.

Her position on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee has allowed us to work closely with her to protect roadless forests, fight the Bush administration's attempts to undermine salmon protections, prevent drilling in ANWR, and bring responsible energy conservation and alternatives to our state.

Among the highlights of her leadership are the following areas.

Forests and Water: Senator Cantwell introduced legislation for the Roadless Rule, which would end roadbuilding in 58 million acres of our most pristine national forests. This means protecting more ancient forests, ensuring clean water sources, and saving billions of taxpayer dollars.

ANWR: Senator Cantwell is an outspoken supporter of the Arctic Refuge and pledged to vote against any attempt to open it up for oil drilling. This year, she led a fight to remove a budget provision that calls for drilling in the Arctic. The "Cantwell amendment" lost by a heartbreaking two votes, but she continues to strive to protect this incredible place.

Salmon: The Senator championed a letter to the Bush administration blasting its 2005 Salmon Plan for the Columbia and Snake Rivers. She wrote: "These policies have been widely criticized for departing too drastically from the policies of the past, for having a questionable scientific basis, for failing to fulfull our nation's treaty obligations to Native American tribes and Canada, and for reducing the federal responsibility and legal protections designed to avert extinction of these iconic fish. We urge you to personally ensure that your Administration's salmon plans and policies are scientifically credible, legally defensible, and will result in harvestable surpluses of salmon and steelhead."

Energy: Renewable energy and efficiency are the keys to our independence from fossil fuel, and Senator Cantwell has fought the worst of the national energy policy. She ensured that this year's energy bill included some good things for consumers, including protection from corporations such as Enron and tax breaks for renewable energy. Senator Cantwell also supported two unsuccessful amendments geared toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving vehicle fuel economy.

Wild Sky: The Senator has played a key role, with Senator Murray and Representative Rick Larsen, in protecting this wonderful area near Index. This year, the Senate voted again to create this wilderness area. The holdup continues in the House of Representatives, with Congressman Richard Pompo creating a roadblock.

In 2000, the Sierra Club endorsed Senator Cantwell and worked hard for her close victory. This time, we're sure that all Washingtonians have learned that this Senator stands up for our values, fights unethical corporations, promotes clean energy policies that also create good jobs, and works hard to protect our environment.

You can learn more about Senator Cantwell at http://cantwell.senate.gov/.   To get involved in the Sierra Club's efforts to support Senator Cantwell, please contact Kathleen Casey.