What’s at Stake?
Scientists agree that we are at a tipping point in deciding our climate future. Defending the environment was going to be a tough fight even under a Democratic president; now we need to pull out all the stops.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump called climate change a hoax. So it’s no surprise that the actions he’s taken in his first few months will set us back years in our efforts to protect our environment. He put the fox in charge of the hen house by naming Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney General who made his reputation by suing the EPA fourteen times, as head of that agency. He also picked Rick Perry, who famously said he would abolish the Department of Energy, to be its secretary. And that’s just the beginning.
The Attacks Have Been Fast and Furious
In his first month, Donald Trump and his rubber-stamp Congress:
- Revived the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines;
- Lifted anti-corruption rules for oil and gas companies;
- Reversed a rule that prevented coal companies from polluting streams;
- GOP rule change zeroed out the value of public lands, making it easier to sell them off; and
- Directed the EPA to weaken greenhouse gas controls.
Legislative Priorities on the Environment
Protect the Climate
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) method for regulating greenhouse gases from power plants and addressing climate change. This has been in the Republican crosshairs even before the EPA wrote the regulations. On March 28, Trump issued an executive order forcing the EPA to weaken or eliminate these rules. Without the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. will not be able to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Not only is defending our climate a necessity, but it is popular. Polls show that two-thirds of Americans support both domestic greenhouse gas controls and an international and binding climate treaty. Rolling back these protections is not the will of the American people. The President’s order to undo the CPP and other important climate change protections is a blatant sellout to oil and coal execs. Make sure your MoC knows that you expect them to choose people over fossil fuels, and that they need to speak forcefully and frequently about the need for strong greenhouse gas regulation.
Fully Fund the EPA
On March 16, 2017 the Trump Administration released its proposed budget. While the proposal does not become effective without further action by Congress, the proposal does reveal the Administration’s priorities. The clear losers: science, the environment, and human health. Trump’s plan would cut funding for the EPA by a third, and would eliminate over 50 EPA programs, including programs to protect drinking water, fight climate change, and protect natural resources that local economies depend on, such as the Great Lakes. It would mean less testing of chemicals to make sure they are safe, and slower, less robust cleanups of contamination affecting communities around the country. The scale of these cuts threatens important federal programs that could have prevented the poisoning of drinking water with lead in Flint, Michigan, and leaves other local communities’ water at risk.
Even worse, Trump’s cuts come at a time when EPA is already working short-handed-- with fewer employees than since the end of the Reagan Administration. The cut in EPA funding represents less than half a percent of the $600 billion military budget. The “savings” from gutting EPA won’t even fund 1% of the over two thousand F-35 fighter jets currently on order. It is ultimately Congress, and not Trump, who will write the budget. Ask your member what they will do to ensure that EPA is fully funded.
Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the last pristine places in America and needs to be protected now and for future generations. Special Interests and their anti-public land allies are mobilizing to dismantle our American system of protected public lands, some 640 million acres of parks, forests and wild lands that all Americans currently own. Their aim is to both sell off and sell out these public lands so that those lands can be sold or leased to oil, mining and logging companies. If they can succeed in opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most pristine and unique places on the planet, to drilling, there will be nothing stopping them from selling off other beloved public lands in your home state or removing protections on other national parks, monuments and shared natural treasures.
We must prevent them from adding a policy rider allowing drilling in the refuge to must-pass legislation like the budget. Please contact your MoC and ask them to commit to defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from any attempts to open it to oil drilling. Ask your MoC if they will commit to defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from any attempts to open it to oil drilling.
Town Hall or Office Visit Questions
ALWAYS try incorporating a personal story when communicating with your MoCs.
- The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) method for regulating greenhouse gases from power plants and addressing climate change. The President’s executive order to undo the CPP and other important climate change protections is a blatant sellout to oil and coal execs. By weakening the CPP, we are putting at risk $54 billion in climate and health benefits each year, and risking increases in premature deaths and asthma attacks in children. For Senators: Will you cosponsor Senator Bennet’s Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act, which would rescind the climate executive order? For Representatives: Will you support a bill to rescind the climate executive order, similar to the Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act proposed by Senator Bennet?
- EPA’s budget today is already 20 percent lower than it was back in 2010. The Trump Administration’s proposed budget would cut EPA funding by an additional 31 percent, leaving critical programs unfunded and putting American’s health and environment at risk. Will you refuse to vote for a budget bill unless EPA is fully funded at current budget levels? [Note: Consider whether there are local impacts to the budget cuts: is there a cleanup in your district? Are there fisherman that depend on a local waterbody for a livelihood? Telling personal stories of how you and your community benefit from a clean, healthy environment is very powerful.]
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the wildest place left in America and needs to be protected now and for future generations. Special Interests and their anti-public land allies are mobilizing to dismantle our American system of protected public lands, some 640 million acres of parks, forests and wild lands that all Americans currently own. Their aim is to both sell off and sell out these public lands so that those lands can be sold or leased to oil, mining and logging companies. Will you commit to me, your constituent, to vote against a spending bill if it contains an attack on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?