Undoing the Clean Power Plan. Weakening fuel efficiency standards. Allowing commercial fishing in marine preserves. Lifting a ban on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Reading The New York Times’s list of one hundred protections for the environment which the Trump administration has either ended or worked to undermine is like flipping through a scrapbook of favorite photographs — which someone has defaced with a Sharpie.
Thousands of Americans — advocates, attorneys, biologists, epidemiologists, engineers, socially-minded entrepreneurs, elected leaders, government regulators, organizers and last but not least ordinary citizens with extraordinary spirit and perseverance — have worked together to put these protections in place, watchdog their enforcement, abide by them, and defend them.
A couple of examples: Together, over years, clean air advocates and climate activists fought for and won laws calling for cleaner cars in a dozen states, one hard-won campaign after another. Then we promoted and won increased fuel efficiency standards to match those state laws at the federal level. For a second example, in the years before online petitions, we collected a million actual signatures from Americans who wanted to keep still-wild areas in our national forests protected from roadbuilding and overuse of resources, and won a commitment from then-President Clinton to the Roadless Rule.
Those snapshots of environmental progress belong to all Americans.
In debates about water, air, land use, open spaces and oceans, Environment America has researched problems and constructed solutions, taken our campaigns to the American people, collected public comments, led groups of citizen lobbyists to Washington, D.C. We’ve lost more battles than we’ve won. But over the years, up against legions of well-funded lobbyists, we’ve beaten a lot of odds and notched up some crucial victories for the environment.
Why? Because, like most Americans, we could see that America the Beautiful was in danger of becoming less open, more covered with asphalt, more polluted, more barren of animal life, more dependent on dirty fossil fuels and life-threatening chemicals, more overrun by the waste that use of those materials produces, and more bereft of wonder. And we could see, with our own eyes, glimpses of the dire future that lies ahead if we do not act immediately to curtail global warming.
From the first days of the Trump presidency, the current president of the United States has sought to unprotect the American environment — to throw the nation into reverse when it comes to the quality and sustainability of our land, water, air, oceans and open spaces. Making cars cleaner, preserving wilderness and 98 other important ways we’ve collectively protected our environment — and our children — have been or are being unraveled by the current administration.
This must stop. And we are determined that it will.
The Trump administration’s attacks on the environment have taken their toll on the natural world and on our patience, but they have not weakened our resolve.
We’re eager to get back to the work of building a better world, instead of fighting to fend off backsliding. And we’re looking forward to a president who will engage in that campaign with us.
We’ve got a scrapbook with a lot of pages left to fill.
Are you with us? Great. What’s your plan to vote for Joe?
President, Environment America; Senior Vice President, The Public Interest Network
As president of Environment America, Wendy is a leading voice for the environment in the United States. She has been quoted in major national, state and local news outlets for nearly 40 years on issues ranging from air pollution to green investing. She is also a senior vice president with The Public Interest Network. She is a founding board member of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizers, and Green Century Funds, the nation’s first family of fossil fuel free mutual funds. Wendy started with WashPIRG, where she led campaigns to create Washington state’s model toxic waste cleanup program and to stop the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste dump site. She is a 1983 graduate of Whitman College. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dog and hikes wherever and whenever she can.