What stands between Americans and clean air isn't science, technology, or the law. It's politics. Last month, I wrote that the incoming House leadership of the new Congress is already beating the war drum in anticipation of taking down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the critical health protections it is required by law to enact.
Although the recent elections signal a return to more inhospitable times for environmental protection in Congress, we are sustained by two constants: the power of the law and the dedication of our supporters.
The law provides leverage for progress even when political winds shift, and our steadfast supporters have shown time and again that they trust in our ability to wield it for positive change, regardless of the prevailing politics.
There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.
At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.
A state ballot box is the current battleground in national and international efforts to reduce global warming pollution. Fueled by millions of oil industry dollars, Proposition 23 asks California voters to repeal the historic Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has helped to lure billions of dollars in clean energy investments and create thousands of jobs.
Too often in the last two decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gnawed big polluters like a toothless tiger. But 20 years after Congress endowed the agency with new tools to protect people from dangerous air pollution, the EPA is finally preparing to bite down hard.
Terri Carawan's health problems began in 1984, soon after the spraying started. Her skin became inflamed and her burning, itching eyes were nearly swollen shut with fluid. Despite tremendous fatigue, she struggled with sleeplessness.
"The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now."
President Obama's words, delivered from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, read like a clear call for national unity as we gather strength to turn the corner to a new, better America. But at this point, they are only words. What we need is action.
Yesterday the White House took a firm stand against an effort to undermine the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, reverse a Supreme Court decision, and block the federal fuel efficiency standards that were finalized this past spring, which will reduce the nation's consumption of oil by at least 455 million barrels.