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makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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

AEP Cries Wolf on Power Plant Shutdowns Due to Public Health Protections

Last week, American Electric Power (AEP) announced that it will shut down 21 coal-fired power plants across the country—plants that, according to analysis by Center for American Progress, emitted 1,186 pounds of mercury, 3,842 pounds of arsenic, 1,578 pounds of lead, and more than 4 million pounds of acid gases in 2009. The utility claimed that this decision is due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s work to limit air pollution from power plants. However, the utility’s prior statements indicate that it had already planned for these shutdowns to occur

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News Release | Environment America

Secretary Salazar Announces Important Step toward Protecting the Grand Canyon from Toxic Mining

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Department of the Interior has chosen the withdrawal of one million acres of land around Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims for up to twenty years as the agency’s preferred course of action and that it would continue to protect these areas under an emergency withdrawal until the release of a final decision, expected at the end of the year. Environment America’s Anna Aurilio issued the following statement.

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News Release | Environment America

Nuclear Power Regulators Find Faults in U.S. Nuclear Emergency Preparedness

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting today to release the 60-day findings of the NRC task force reviewing NRC processes and regulations in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. The review found faults in plant preparedness systems and the regulations that prescribe the extent of those systems. For example, the review highlighted the fact that ‘Severe Accident Management Systems’ are inconsistently implemented across the country. The NRC has continued its licensing and re-licensing of nuclear reactors without any new protections against disasters.

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News Release | Environment America

DOD’s Energy Plan: National Security through Clean Energy

The Department of Defense released its first energy plan, “Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy,” which aims to ensure that the armed forces have the energy sources they need to compete in the 21st Century while reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving military resilience. The plan highlights three strategies that theDOD will useto obtainits goals: reduced energy demand, diversified energy sources, and incorporation of energy into strategic planning.

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News Release | Environment America

Sen. Boxer & EPA Administrator Jackson Highlight the Need for Strong Clean Air Rules to Protect Public Health

This morning the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, is holding a hearing featuring testimony from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on air pollution’s threats to public health, and forthcoming rules to limit dangerous pollution and save lives.

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