It’s important to connect the environment to all aspects of people’s lives. Even though it seems like an obvious connection—you need water, you need air—most people are really thinking about these issues as an extension of their health. They don’t necessarily put it in an environmental bucket. And it’s really to the detriment of the movement that these issues seem niche when they aren’t niche.
These are fundamental issues, so we need to continue to connect our issues to the ability for people to live in safe communities, to have kids that are fully functioning and thinking clearly because they’re not polluted by metals. We all know we can live days without water, but even minutes without air would be the end of us.
I think to some degree the fact that air moves—so bad air you’re breathing today could come from a neighboring state or another region of the country—makes the federal case a little clearer that you can’t really handle your problem in-state because you can’t really confine your air to where you are. You’re getting someone else’s air, too. Especially if your state is not that large or if you live near a state line, there’s almost nothing you can do to really improve your situation by enacting state measures alone. If you’re in Delaware or Rhode Island, what are you really going to do about dirty air from Massachusetts or Pennsylvania?
Stephanie Maddine is a legislative counsel on the Policy & Legislation team. After graduate school, Stephanie moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard Law School so that she could focus on policy work at the federal level. After earning her law degree, Stephanie became a congressional staffer on affordable housing and environmental matters when she first learned about Earthjustice and its work on pesticides.
In 2010, she came to Earthjustice to lobby exclusively on air pollution issues—a position that allows her to be behind the scenes to try and shape policy in a way that’s more sensitive to different viewpoints.