What’s happening in Washington

The president put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued that same agency 14 times to weaken clean air, clean water and other environmental protections.

He signed an executive order to put the Keystone XL pipeline on a fast track to construction, another order designed to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for nearly 2 million miles of America’s streams, and a third order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, effectively allowing power plants to emit more pollution and adding more soot to the air we breathe and more climate-destabilizing carbon pollution to the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed legislation abolishing new stream water protections from coal mining in Appalachia, voted to make it easier to sell off public lands, and introduced bills to abolish the EPA.

After talking during the campaign about “abolishing” the EPA himself or “leaving just a little bit,” the president proposed a budget that would slash EPA funding by 31 percent. These cuts would virtually eliminate funding for proven programs needed to clean up the nation’s great waterways, from San Francisco Bay to Puget Sound; decimate environmental research and science programs; and effectively take the nation’s environmental cops off the polluter beat.

A “little bit” of environmental protection is not nearly enough—not when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people and places we love. 

Most Americans want more, not fewer, protections for the people and places we love

These moves to dismantle our environmental protections violate core values shared by millions of Americans.

The vast majority of us believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a company dumps pollution into our air or water. The future of our children and life on our planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies. The idea that we’ve found some places so special, some would even say sacred, that we’ve declared them off-limits to development is one of our proudest achievements.

But our environmental values are meaningless if we don’t act on them, and stand up and defend them when they’re under attack— especially given the power of old but entrenched industries that are wed to a status quo that no longer serves our needs, and a worldview that puts their short-term economic interests above the health of the American people and the environment we share.

Our path forward

Our best chance of stopping these attacks will come in the U.S. Senate, where 41 votes will be enough to block most legislation.

Environment America, together with our nationwide network of state affiliates, is urging our senators to stand up and protect our health and the places we love.

And if enough of us speak up, we can win.

Recently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah filed a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. Several days later he withdrew the bill in the face of overwhelming public opposition, including 1,000 people in Montana turning out to a pro-public lands rally and this comment from an National Rifle Association member on Chaffetz’s Facebook page: “Rescind H.R. 621 the sale of public lands! It’s not your land to sell. It’s the people’s land. Many people use it for many purposes.” Hear and respect our voice.”

We can win, but only if we bring together people from all walks of life, from both sides of the political divide, and unite in action to defend the places we love.

Reckless proposals to roll back clean air, clean water and other environmental protections keep coming every week. We need to build support now to protect our health and environment.

Now, it's up to us

The leaders and activists of the past saw the result of decades of unchecked pollution in our smog-covered skylines and our toxic rivers. They worked against all odds and, ultimately, their values won the day. Our environmental forbears organized the first Earth Day, supported and passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the torch passes to us.

The children we know and love today can live cleaner, healthier lives in a greener world, but only if we can keep our environmental protections in place and make them stronger. It’s up to us.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment America

New Report: Extreme Downpours Up 24 Percent in U.S.

Storms with heavy rainfall are now 24 percent more frequent in the U.S. than they were 60 years ago, according to a new Environment America report released today. The report makes it clear that the United States is already experiencing extreme downpours much more frequently, consistent with scientists’ predictions about global warming.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment America

When it Rains, It Pours: Global Warming and the Rising Frequency of Extreme Precipitation in the United States

Scientists expect that global warming will cause a variety of changes to precipitation patterns in the United States. Many areas will receive increased amounts of rain and snow over the course of a year; some areas will receive less. But scientists expect that, all across the country, the rainstorms and snowstorms that do occur will be more intense – increasing the risk of flooding and other impacts.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment America

Is it In US?: Chemical Contamination in Our Bodies.

This report documents the results of a national biomonitoring project that tested 35 diverse people from seven states for contamination with three types of toxic, industrial chemicals.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

REPORT: Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products Found In Illinoisans' Bodies Read the Report.

Three toxic chemicals used in everyday products were found in five Illinoisans and 30 other volunteers in a nationwide biomonitoring project, according to a new report issued today by Environment Illinois and a coalition of public interest groups. The report comes at a time of heightened awareness of toxics in consumer products, following summer revelations about lead in children’s toys and lipstick.

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Report | Environment America

Worth More Wild: The Value Of Arizona's Roadless National Forests

After decades of scientific inquiry, 600 public hearings, and a record 1.6 million comments from the American public, the Clinton administration issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in January 2001.  The Roadless Rule, as it is commonly known, originally protected 58.5 million acres of wild national forest land from most commercial logging and road-building, and associated mining and drilling.  Since then, the Bush administration has removed these protections from 9.5 million acres of roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest. 

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