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makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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

House Votes for Dirtier Water and More Dirty Energy

Today, the U.S. House passed the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (HR 2354).  The bill would make large cuts the Department of Energy budget, especially to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

Senate Committee to Vote on Dangerous Energy Bill

Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the Clean Energy Finance Act of 2011. The bill would create an energy deployment administration with broad authority to provide financial support for a wide array of energy technologies. While energy use and production remains the largest source of pollution in the U.S., the deployment administration could support energy technologies that are as dirty as our current energy sources. For electricity, the bill could subsidize nuclear power, advanced coal, natural gas and municipal solid waste along with truly clean technologies such as wind, solar power and energy efficiency. In the transportation sector, the bill could subsidize fuels that are as dirty as gasoline, which is responsible for more global warming pollution than any other fuel source in the United States. Finally, the bill could also support technologies like coal-to-liquids or tar sands oil as long as their emissions were comparable to those of gasoline.

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News Release | Environment America

Visionary Solar Power Legislation Considered in Senate Committee

The Ten Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011 will be considered in the Energy and Natural Resources committee today. Senators Bernie Sanders (I - VT), John Boozman (R – AR) and Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D – NM) introduced the Act, which would establish a goal of powering 10 million homes and businesses with solar energy by 2020. The measure also would incorporate a Department of Energy initiative called SunShot to make solar power more competitive with conventional energy technologies. The bill would provide grants to communities to help them make their solar energy permitting process less costly and more efficient, and would recognize and reward communities that have adopted common policies on solar permits.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

Americans’ Health and Environment Under Assault in Appropriations Committee Bill

Today the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a bill that attacks protections and funding for clean air, water and public lands, and puts Americans’ health at risk.  Additional amendments are expected to be offered which will further threaten environmental and public health safeguards.  

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News Release | Environment America

House Considers Step Backwards on Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

The House of Representatives will soon vote on Rep. Barton’s Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act. The bill would repeal energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that were originally passed with industry support and a large bipartisan majority in 2007. According to a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy the standards could lead to $11.9 billion per year in energy savings when fully instituted

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