If not for this pandemic, I would have hoped to have seen our movement mobilize a response to ongoing federal-level setbacks that would have rivaled the very first Earth Day. For now, our workplaces may be remote, but our sense of urgency is immediate and our commitment to never stop fighting for the environment is unchanging.
I’m sure you’re as outraged as I am that the Trump administration is using the novel coronavirus crisis as a pretext to suspend enforcement of key provisions in our environmental laws, at the behest of the oil and gas industry. The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board quoted our Senior Attorney, John Rumpler, as saying:
“We have a pandemic that is a respiratory virus, and we are going to risk having more pollution get into the air that people are breathing. That seems insane.”
It never makes sense to pollute the air we rely on to live, but to pile respiratory challenge on top of respiratory challenge by turning a blind eye to pollution in this moment is colossally wrongheaded. Our staff are sounding the alarm in the media and urging Americans to come together in vocal opposition to this decision. With sound science, common sense, and the public on our side, we’ve already organized 14 state Attorneys General to call on the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its non-enforcement policy. We’re also encouraging Congress to exercise its oversight authority to safeguard public health.
In addition, Environment America is taking issue with the Trump administration’s new Dirty Water Rule and Dirty Power Plan, failure to update energy efficiency standards for light bulbs, and rollback of standards for clean cars and mercury and other toxic air pollutants. We’re working with the Southern Environmental Law Center to challenge the Dirty Water Rule in court, we’ve filed an amicus brief in support of the Clean Power Plan that the Trump administration replaced, we’re already defending light bulb efficiency as well as state and national clean cars standards in court, and we may soon take additional legal action.
This year’s Earth Day was certainly different than I ever expected it to be. But it did give me occasion to reflect on the endurance of our movement, no matter the challenges. The ongoing fight for ecological values and outcomes has united so many of us over the last five decades and still does today, even when we’re apart from each other. It goes without saying that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. So it’s a good thing we have a strong team.
If you have questions or feedback on our work to defend the environment and our health, please don’t hesitate to contact me or John at [email protected].
Acting Director, Environment America
P.S. If you’re looking for a little uplift right now, check out “Good As News,” a new weekly e-newsletter compiling environmental highlights, which we also host each Friday on Environment America’s blog.
Environment America has also launched Greener Together, a project that aims to keep us connected to nature and each other as we practice social distancing at home. Greener Together features engaging, interactive online events with our staff and other environmental experts as well as fun, home-appropriate eco-activities and helpful guides for adults and children.
Photo credit: Michelle C. via Shutterstock
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.