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planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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

Agribusiness Lobby Fights Against Clean Water

Big agribusiness interests are among the largest roadblocks to clean water in the United States, according to a new report by Environment America. The report, “Growing Influence: The Political Power of Agribusiness and the Fouling of America’s Waterways,” released today, comes days after the U.S. House voted to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward with measures to protect America’s waterways from unlimited pollution. 

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News Release | Environment America

Administration’s Next Five Year Plan Must Protect our Coasts

Today the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) ended its series of public hearings on the environmental impacts of its next five year drilling plan (2012-2017). The five year drilling plan determines where offshore leasing should and should not be done and the sequencing of leasing.

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News Release | Environment America

EPA Rule to Limit Toxic Mercury Emissions Protects Health and Cuts Dangerous Pollution

Today the United States Environmental Protection Agency finalized its rule to limit mercury and other toxic air emissions from industrial sources (also referred to as the “Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT)”).

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News Release | Environment America

Public to Weigh In on Hardrock Mining near Grand Canyon

After months of analysis, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released a draft Environmental Impact Statement assessing the impact of hardrock mining on lands within the Grand Canyon watershed. Over the next forty-five days, the public is invited to comment on the Secretary’s proposal to withdraw up to one million acres of land around the Canyon from new mining claims.

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News Release | Environment America

America’s Great Outdoors Report Celebrates the Best of America

Environment America applauds the President for his celebration of America’s Great Outdoors in his long anticipated report highlighting findings from the Administration’s listening sessions, which asked Americans how to protect the places they value most.

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