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makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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

Report | Environment America

Preserving America's Natural Heritage: Lessons From States' Efforts to Fund Open Space Protection

America’s open spaces are an integral part of our national identity. Our natural landscapes not only provide us with places of great beauty, but they also play a critical role in providing habitat for wildlife along with clean water, fresh air and recreational opportunities for Americans. 

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News Release | Environment America

Environment America Points the Way For Preserving Open Space

As states face tight budgets in the economic downturn, a new report released by Environment America today draws on the experience of 15 states in securing reliable funding for open space programs. Among its key recommendations, Preserving America's Natural Heritage embraces bringing preservation measures directly to the voters – as is happening this fall in Minnesota, Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, and Florida.

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Report | Environment America

Fair Deal for Consumers or Free Ride for Polluters?

The governors of Oregon, California, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona established the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) in February 2007 with the goal of reducing region-wide emissions by at least 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. In order to achieve this goal, WCI is planning to cap global warming pollution from industrial sectors representing most of the major pollution sources.

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News Release | Environment America

Western Governors Urged to Put the Public Ahead of Polluters in Global Warming Plan

With Western governors poised to announce details of a program to cap global warming emissions in seven Western states, environmental organizations are urging officials to make sure polluters pay for pollution permits, rather than receive what amounts to billions of dollars in trade-able assets for free. Economists agree that capping emissions and making polluters pay for permits at an auction is the most cost-effective and fair approach to cutting global warming pollution, without increasing the cost to consumers, according to a new report released today by environmental organizations that have been monitoring the Western Climate Initiative and other such “cap and trade” programs.

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News Release | Environment America

Stronger Building Energy Codes and Incentives Could Lead to Dramatic Energy Savings in Buildings

According to a new white paper released today by Environment America the country's energy consumption could be cut by 11 percent by 2020 through simple building efficiency measures. “Building an Energy-Efficient America: Zero Energy and High Efficiency Buildings” describes the many opportunities for increasing energy efficiency in buildings and makes recommendations for what local, state and federal officials can do to secure huge energy savings in new and existing buildings.

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