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Policy and Legislation

The U.S. Capitol building.

Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government. It conjures up an image of a guy in a $5,000 suit slipping money into a senator’s pockets. It’s seemingly taboo to lobby, and as a public policy major I find my answer to the often-repeated question of “So, are you going to sell out and become a lobbyist when you graduate?” being “Absolutely not!”

But, as I learned during my time here, “lobbying” has a much-more layered definition.

A farmworker picks strawberries in Wayne County, NY.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants your feedback as it updates rules meant to protect children and adult agricultural workers from pesticides.

In this first installment of a weekly series, farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, illustrating why we need an even stronger standard than EPA proposes. Join them in taking action, and share your story below.

The devastating TVA Kingston coal ash spill of 2008.

It was standing room only, today, in a stately meeting room in the U.S. Capitol building as Senate staffers and a group of citizens gathered for a briefing about the hazards of toxic coal ash waste. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club organized the briefing in an effort to educate elected officials and their staff on the importance of keeping off the Senate floor any legislation that would prevent the EPA from regulating this toxic waste.

Child at a lake.

Hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens, including nearly 40,000 Earthjustice supporters, weighed in over the past few weeks on a rule jointly proposed by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that would restore long-standing Clean Water Act protections and provide clarity to the jurisdiction of this law that keeps toxic pollutants out of our cherished water sources.

President Obama in the Oval Office in September 2013.

President Obama has said we need “an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy.” However, a zealous pursuit of an “all of the above strategy” seriously undermines the president’s ability to achieve a far more important goal that he has set: to lead this country and the world toward smart policies that combat climate change.

Selena and her father Miguel at the Rayburn House Building in 2013, after meeting with their representative's office.

Last week, I interviewed 18-year-old Selena Zelaya of Mount Dora, Florida. Selena was one of about a dozen farmworker advocates who traveled to D.C. in July to lobby for farmworker protections against harmful pesticides. Selena’s mother and father are farmworkers and from a young age she began advocating on behalf of them and others. She returns to D.C. this week with representatives of Florida and North Carolina to meet with congressional representatives.

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