After the summer we have had, my mind is on climate change, what more Earthjustice can do about it, and what’s at stake in this election.
I experienced the effects of climate change this summer during a trip through Colorado. Heat, drought and fire set an almost apocalyptic tone for the trip. There was no snow on the peaks, stream flows were down, and smoke filled the air. Similar impacts afflicted 60 percent of our nation and spread over three continents; sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at a record low.
Earthjustice is working hard to slow and reverse these climate trends by bringing cases across the country to beat down coal, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and expand the market for renewable energy and efficiency. And with your support we are doing more every day: hiring more attorneys and bringing more cases in more places. We are grateful not only for your support which makes this possible, but also for your advocacy which helps get better rules adopted and enforced.
But our progress is in jeopardy in the upcoming election. It is critical that you be involved. Political advertising in support of coal, oil, and natural gas is outstripping spending on behalf of clean energy by a ratio of four to one, according to a recent analysis by the New York Times. Some candidates are avoiding environmental issues, some are mouthpieces of climate denial, and an avalanche of fossil fuel money is flooding the airwaves against any who take a strong stand for addressing climate change and promoting clean energy. We simply can’t let that flood of money determine the outcome of the election and the future of our country.
It’s time to turn up the pressure on those who seek to lead us. Let’s take heart in recalling that it was an aroused citizenry who set the environmental agenda for the last 40 years, resulting in the major environmental protections our citizens rely on and that Earthjustice employs in its legal work. Some of these fundamental protections, including the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to perform its mission, have been under attack in this election season. Moreover, congressional attacks on clean energy have been ramping up. Just this week, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would phase out a loan guarantee program for clean and renewable energy projects, while keeping in place bloated subsidy programs for fossil fuel.
Let’s remind our leaders that climate change and the health of our planet and communities are directly linked to our reliance on coal-fired power and other fossil fuels. Pursuing these finite energy resources has led speculators and developers to a modern-day gold rush across America’s public lands and off our shores. We are exploring, drilling and destroying at a phenomenal rate, threatening not just wild places and species, but human communities. Our water is being fracked with chemicals, our air is laden with particulates and poisons, our coastlines are fouled with spilled oil—with worse threatened in Arctic waters.
The election is near. Now is the time to make your voice heard. Only a few days ago, Earthjustice supporters rallied in Washington, D.C. as they delivered a petition with more than 13,500 names and photos of those who demand an end to the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining. It’s the biggest photo petition even handed to a U.S. president, and we are confident it will help counter the industry’s drumbeat in favor of coal. Our confidence is bolstered by how similar citizen action this summer helped prevent passage of legislation that would have kept the EPA from regulating the poisonous impacts of coal ash on neighborhoods across America.
So, the lesson is clear—your voice is as important as your vote. There is a lot you can do. Contact the candidates to demand they address YOUR environmental concerns. Demand that the news media cover, and really examine, the environmental positions of candidates. Help make climate and environmental policy issues more prominent by asking the presidential debate moderators to ask hard questions about those issues. Volunteer for candidates who do support the environment and action on climate change, and if possible help support them financially too.
It’s your help and your passion that enables us to get our job done. The same is true in the election. Let’s win one for the planet!