What’s happening in Washington

The president put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued that same agency 14 times to weaken clean air, clean water and other environmental protections.

He signed an executive order to put the Keystone XL pipeline on a fast track to construction, another order designed to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for nearly 2 million miles of America’s streams, including 28,785 miles in New York, and a third order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, effectively allowing power plants to emit more pollution and adding more soot to the air we breathe and more climate-destabilizing carbon pollution to the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed legislation abolishing new stream water protections from coal mining in Appalachia, voted to make it easier to sell off public lands, and introduced bills to abolish the EPA.

After talking during the campaign about “abolishing” the EPA himself or “leaving just a little bit,” the president proposed a budget that would slash EPA funding by 31 percent. These cuts would virtually eliminate funding for proven programs needed to clean up the nation’s great waterways, from San Francisco Bay to Puget Sound; decimate environmental research and science programs, and effectively take the nation’s environmental cops off the polluter beat.

A “little bit” of environmental protection is not nearly enough—not when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people and places we love. 

Most Americans want more, not fewer, protections for the people and places we love

These moves to dismantle our environmental protections violate core values shared by millions of Americans.

The vast majority of us believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a company dumps pollution into our air or water. The future of our children and life on our planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies. The idea that we’ve found some places so special, some would even say sacred, that we’ve declared them off-limits to development is one of our proudest achievements.

But our environmental values are meaningless if we don’t act on them, and stand up and defend them when they’re under attack— especially given the power of old but entrenched industries that are wed to a status quo that no longer serves our needs, and a worldview that puts their short-term economic interests above the health of the American people and the environment we share.

Our path forward

Our best chance of stopping these attacks will come in the U.S. Senate, where 41 votes will be enough to block most legislation.

Environment New York, together with our nationwide network of state affiliates, is urging our senators to stand up and protect our health and the places we love.

And if enough of us speak up, we can win.

Recently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah filed a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. Several days later he withdrew the bill in the face of overwhelming public opposition, including 1,000 people in Montana turning out to a pro-public lands rally and this comment from an National Rifle Association member on Chaffetz’s Facebook page: “Rescind H.R. 621 the sale of public lands! It’s not your land to sell. It’s the people’s land. Many people use it for many purposes.” Hear and respect our voice.”

We can win, but only if we bring together people from all walks of life, from both sides of the political divide, and unite in action to defend the places we love.

Reckless proposals to roll back clean air, clean water and other environmental protections keep coming every week. We need to build support now to protect our health and environment.

Now, it's up to us

The leaders and activists of the past saw the result of decades of unchecked pollution in our smog-covered skylines and our toxic rivers. They worked against all odds and, ultimately, their values won the day. Our environmental forbears organized the first Earth Day, supported and passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the torch passes to us.

The children we know and love today can live cleaner, healthier lives in a greener world, but only if we can keep our environmental protections in place and make them stronger. It’s up to us.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment New York

“Americans need an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet we love.” — Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York

According to press reports, President-elect Trump has chosen Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.  Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York’s, issued the following statement in response: 

“We need an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator who protects our environmental laws, is guided by science when crafting and implementing policy, puts public health ahead of dirty energy special interests, and has the qualifications necessary to safeguard the American public from climate change. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt meets none of those criteria. 

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News Release | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

New Report: Solar Energy Benefits Vastly Outweigh Costs

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Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Shining Rewards

Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. Through September 2016, more than 31 gigawatts of solar electric capacity had been installed around the country, enough to power more than 6 million homes. The rapid growth of solar energy in the United States is the result of forward-looking policies that are helping the nation reduce its contribution to global warming and expand its use of local renewable energy sources.

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News Release | Environment New York

Northeast States Must Take Stronger Action Against Pollution

Today, representatives of nine states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are meeting to discuss taking stronger action to cut global warming pollution. These states, part of a regional program that limits pollution from power plants called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, are preparing to make a decision about how much to cut pollution from 2020 to 2030. Environment New York and a broad coalition are urging the states to be more ambitious.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has already been a huge success – the states in the region have collectively reduced power plant pollution by an average of 5 percent per year since 2005, and the program has generated more than $2.5 billion for clean energy investment.  Based on materials released by the states before today’s meeting, the states are now considering cutting pollution from power plants at a slower rate, between 2.5 and 3.5 percent per year. Instead of allowing slower progress, a broad coalition of non-profit groups, businesses and investors concerned about climate change are asking the states to step up their ambition and ensure that pollution continues to fall at least 5 percent per year. Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, released the following statement to call for the states to set stronger pollution reduction goals.

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News Release | Environment New York

In a win for our oceans and climate, President Obama drops plans for Arctic, Atlantic drilling

In a win for our oceans and climate, the Obama administration finalized its oil and gas leasing program, which provides protection for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from risky oil and gas drilling for the next five years. “Coastal businesses, fishermen, and marine life learned the lesson after the BP disaster that when you drill, you spill,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “People spoke up loudly and clearly against offshore drilling. We are thrilled the Atlantic is protected for the next five years and adding protection for the Arctic makes the victory that much sweeter.”

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