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makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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

EPA to Save As Many As 34,000 Lives With New Clean Air Protections

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a historic clean air standard to cut deadly smog- and soot-forming pollution from power plants in the eastern half of the country. EPA estimates that the rule will save as many as 34,000 lives in 2014.

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Report | Environment America

Getting Off Oil: A 50 State Roadmap for Curbing our Dependence on Petroleum

America’s dependence on oil inflicts a heavy toll on our environment – polluting our ocean waters, destroying natural landscapes and fouling our air. With oil companies taking greater and greater risks to satisfy the world’s demand for oil, the environmental toll of America’s oil dependence continues to rise. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

United States can reduce oil dependence by 79 billion gallons

A comprehensive strategy to get off oil can reduce oil dependence by 79 billion gallons per year—more than all of our imports from OPEC nations, according to the new report, “Getting Off Oil: A 50 State Roadmap to Curbing Our Dependence on Petroleum,” released today by Environment America.

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News Release | Environment America

U.S. House Subcommittee Passes Dirty Air & Dirty Water Bill that Threatens Americans’ Health and Environment

Today the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies passed in a 7 to 4 vote a bill that attacks protections and funding for clean air, water and public lands, and puts Americans’ health at risk. 

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News Release | Environment America

San Antonio Power Plant Expected to Be Retired

Environment Texas hailed the expected announcement today by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro that the city-owned CPS Energy will retire the polluting Deely power plant by the year 2018 and replace its power with additional investments in solar energy. According to research by Environment Texas, in 2009, the Deely plant emitted 3657 tons of nitrogen oxide, a key precursor to smog pollution. The two Deely smokestacks join with the two “Spruce” units to make up the Calaveras Power Station, which an April Environment Texas report found ranked 11th out of the state’s 20 power plants for mercury pollution. And according to a study by the Clean Air Task Force, power plant pollution in Bexar County is linked to 282 asthma attacks and 11 deaths every year.

> Keep Reading

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