Environment vs. Polluters: Don’t Let the EPA Tip the Scales in Pollution’s Favor

Target: Charlotte Bertrand, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Goal: Continue measuring the impact of environmental damage and human health when crafting environmental policies.

As the ethics scandals continue piling up for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, he is continuing to enact damaging and counterintuitive environmental policies largely unchecked and under the radar. The latest affront to the EPA’s mission came when Pruitt announced that the agency would fundamentally change the way it shapes regulatory guidelines. The regulations put in place by the EPA have large implications for both the environment and public health. These include environmental laws that limit pollutants contaminating the air and water.

In the wake of other detrimental decisions regarding deregulations on emissions and asbestos, the EPA is aiming to restructure the cost-benefit analysis model it utilizes in creating its regulations. Currently, these analyses take into account much more than financial numbers. Rather, they also strongly consider hidden costs such as the dangers a substance might pose to a person’s health, or the slow-building destruction it might bring to our lands and our resources. For example, due to its negative effects on the environment, a previous analysis of carbon put its social cost at 36 dollars per ton. Under the new EPA leadership, the cost of this pollutant has plummeted to just five dollars per ton. Cost-benefit analysis has been a centerpiece for crafting such environmentally important policies as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Altering this vital tool will strike a blow to the heart of these important protections.

The EPA has opened this proposed change to input from experts and from the public. Sign this petition to let the leadership know that Americans value the preservation of our environment and our health over corporate profits.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Ms. Bertrand.

The EPA recently devalued the role of public health data in informing EPA policy. And with your asbestos decision, you dismissed the carcinogens lurking in our environment that will impact the health of citizens for decades to come. Now the EPA wants to say once again that the health and well-being of our citizens and of our environment just does not have that much value.

The proposed changes to the agency’s cost-benefit analysis system will benefit only one sector of our population: corporations that crave more deregulation in their unending quest for greater profit. You did not take an oath to work for or service these entities. Your oath is to the environment and the people inhabiting it that have always stood central to the EPA’s true mission.

We the people value wellness. We value our health and the health of our children. And we value the well-being of the world that we will leave to future generations….hopefully in a better way than we found it. This is our cost-benefit analysis, and it should be yours as well.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Environmental Protection Agency

Drain the Swamp of Unethical, Anti-Environment Officials

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove an influential official who allegedly gave access to organizations promoting environmentally destructive policies.

The ethics scandal continues for the individuals charged with conserving our environment and our lands. Now, the spotlight of scrutiny is directed toward senior officials in the Department of the Interior, a federal agency that, among other responsibilities, oversees America’s natural resources and federally protected lands. Unfortunately, much like Environmental Protection Agency leadership, it appears that Interior leaders may be making back-room deals with the very entities that threaten its mission.

Media-obtained records have revealed meetings between high-ranking Interior Department advisor Douglas Domenech and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a high-profile conservative lobbying organization believed to be backed by the notorious Koch brothers. This foundation most recently gained scrutiny in the political realm when President Trump appointed one of its fellows, a known climate change denier, to helm the Council for Environmental Quality. Domenech himself is also a former employee of TPPF, where he directed a project that lobbied against the Clean Power Plan.

Domenech claimed his meetings were entirely social, but his released work calendar tells a very different story of intensive discussions that centered around policy initiatives. Every member of the Trump administration allegedly signed a pledge that forbade them from allowing former employers insider access to federal departments or policy initiatives. Domenech, allegedly like many alongside him, has blatantly disregarded his pledge and placed outside interests over the duties he was appointed to carry out with integrity.

Sign this petition to demand President Trump hold this official accountable for violations that could place the environment and its precious resources at imminent risk.

PETTION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The ethics pledge all members of your administration signed was a valued opportunity to honor your own pledge of “draining the swamp.” Employees are trained and educated on this pledge every year. And yet another employee of your administration stands accused of breaking this pledge… and breaking his vow to the American people.

Douglas Domenech, a powerful official within the Department of the Interior, has openly held several meetings with his former employer, the Texas Public Policy Foundation. More critically, his own documents indicate these meetings focused on present and future Interior Department policy.

This is a blatant violation of Mr. Domenech’s oath of office and a betrayal of the mission he has to look out for the best interest of our federal lands and resources. Although this matter is allegedly being investigated internally, we do not have confidence it will be resolved impartially.

Honor your own pledge to “drain the swamp” by demanding the removal of this man who seemingly cannot and will not keep his word.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steve Baskauf

Save the Chinese Giant Salamander From Extinction

Target: Han Changfu, Minister of China’s Ministry of Agriculture

Goal: Preserve dwindling populations of the critically endangered Chinese giant salamander.

One of the world’s most awe-inspiring amphibians – and a cultural icon in the regions it calls home – may soon be no more if immediate action is not taken. In recent months, researchers have discovered a dishearteningly low number of Chinese giant salamanders in China’s wildlands. The animals are quite a sight, with the potential to grow up to six feet lengthwise and up to 150 pounds in weight: the size of a tall human being. These lizard-like wonders also have a cherished place in Chinese lore, as they may have inspired the renowned yin and yang symbols.

Unfortunately, the uniqueness of these animals also makes them an attractive target for poachers and for individuals who value them as an ingredient in Chinese medicine or for exotic food. Other factors such as pollution and subsequent habitat loss have also compounded the plight of these kings among salamanders. Ironically, one of the greatest recent threats rests in the release of commercially farmed salamanders back into the wild. When these released animals breed with the purebred salamanders, it weakens the species as a whole: a species that is called a “living fossil” precisely because its genetic makeup has seen virtually no major alterations in its 150 million-plus year history.

Sign this petition to urge the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture to heighten its efforts at conserving some of history’s most wondrous animals.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Changfu,

The Chinese giant salamander has remained entrenched in Chinese history and culture. You have made admirable efforts at preserving and conserving these living beings by placing them on your endangered species list, holding poachers accountable under the law, and by encouraging the release of these animals from farms.

Despite these efforts, your country’s famous salamanders –  “living fossils” of historical importance to the world as a whole – stand on the brink of extinction. Recent reports reveal a distressingly low percentage of these animals in the environment, with an even lower percentage from the original, millennia-long strain of wild salamanders. The farm release programs may have contributed to this latter problem by, in the words of one researcher, “genetically swamp[ing] out” the original salamanders. These same researchers advocate for a modified captive release program that emphasizes the preservation of the wild salamander’s genetic lineage.

If extinction does claim the Chinese giant salamander, the elimination of such an apex predator from the food chain has the potential for crippling effects that reverberate throughout entire ecosystems. Please take every measure to ensure these amazing natural wonders remain part of your country’s heritage for many more centuries.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: SH Jefferson

Ensure Environment Doesn’t Become Hawaii Volcano’s Biggest Victim

Target: Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawaii County

Goal: Protect threatened regions from volcano-related environmental hazards.

Major blockbuster films often focus on spectacular explosions and rivers of fiery lava. As the ongoing Hawaii saga demonstrates, sometimes the most dangerous volcano hazards arise from  environmental pollutants. Fissures compounded by the recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano have poured untold amounts of methane and other toxic substances into the atmosphere. Now, residents face renewed anxiety as a potential ticking time bomb in the form of a geothermal plant stands in the crosshairs of the Kilauea eruptions.

Lava flows recently penetrated the grounds of the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant: a highly controversial structure that has long drawn the ire of nearby residents for its potential environmental hazards. Unfortunately, those fears may come to fruition if the aftereffects of the volcano come into contact with the dangerous gas utilized at the plant, most prominently sulfur dioxide.

While officials have taken precautions such as removing flammable liquids and plugging wells on the plant, alarm still remains high. This is a largely untested problem, and just one misstep or one unpredictable factor such as high winds could trigger an environmental and public health disaster.

Sign this petition to urge regional leadership to do the responsible thing and draft strong, environmentally conscious emergency response plans, including possible relocation of this facility.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Kim,

Monitoring for atmospheric threats, potential mass evacuations, emergency closures: these represent just a few of the many unique dangers faced as you confront a previous hypothetical catastrophe scenario come to life. The Kilauea volcano has already claimed dozens of structures in Hawaii, but the threats posed to the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant present the greatest danger yet.

Hawaii relies upon this plant for much of its power, but with this reliance also comes immense responsibility. Time will tell if the danger indeed passes, but another disaster drill-turned-reality may strike at any time. Please take this opportunity to evaluate, to analyze, to listen to both experts and your community, and to prepare.

Heed the dangers to the environment and to the people…the people who have long warned you of these dangers. Take the necessary steps to neutralize these dangers, even if this means relocating these facilities to a safer place. Let this plant be a true source of power, not a harbinger of inevitable catastrophe.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nikbert16

Don’t Allow Trophy Hunters to Kill Sleeping Wolf Pups and Bear Cubs

Target: Dan Smith, Deputy Director of the National Park Service

Goal: Preserve protections that shield wildlife in Alaska’s national preserves from inhumane killings.

In yet another assault on Alaskan wildlife, the National Park Service has proposed new guidelines that will leave bears and other large wildlife vulnerable to hunters looking for nothing more than a trophy. The dictate, under the guise of aligning federal standards with state standards, gives an additional win to trophy hunters at the expense of wildlife: a long-running and frequent goal of this administration.

This latest affront reverses protections put forth by the Obama administration that banned cruel hunting methods used on federally owned lands. Among the previously restricted and possibly now sanctioned activities are killing young animals such as bear cubs and wolf pups while they sleep in their dens, using food and spotlights to draw out unsuspecting prey, and making use of motorboats in the easy slaughter of marine wildlife. Hunters will now also be allowed to use other animals like dogs as weapons against Alaska’s wildlife.

If enacted, these newly enshrined inhumane standards will leave all wildlife within the 37,000 square miles that comprise Alaska’s national preserves at the mercy of trophy hunters like Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The Interior Secretary, whose department oversees that National Park Service, recently held meetings with his board of advisers on wildlife conservation…an advisory board that happens to be packed with known big game hunters.

The public, in turn, has roughly 60 days to ‘advise’ the National Park Service on this critical proposed change as well. Sign the petition below to give voice to Alaska’s increasingly under-siege wildlife population.

PETITION LERTER:

Dear Deputy Director Smith,

The National Park Service is entrusted with a sacred duty: preserving the history and the legacy of our nation’s most cherished landmarks and natural wonders. As the person given directorial authority over this agency, you in turn have a responsibility and a high duty that goes beyond politics or affiliations.

Recently, Alaska has become ground zero in a fight for and against America’s wildlife. The proposed eradication of protections for wildlife on federal preserves feels like less of a move to align federal and state guidelines and more of an effort to appease certain powerful trophy hunters. If these new guidelines come to pass, bears, wolves, and so many other living beings ingrained in Alaska’s rich ecological history will fall to the manipulative and cruel tactics of individuals who eradicate them for profit and prestige.

Please prove your skeptics wrong and fight for the lands and the inhabitants you pledged to protect. Do not bargain Alaska’s wildlife to those who do them harm.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Christian Pietzsch

Don’t Defund America’s Greenhouse Gas Police

Target: Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

Goal: Invest in technology that helps curb greenhouse gases.

President Donald Trump dealt another blow to environmental conservation efforts by eliminating one of the strongest tools for tracking dangerous pollutants worldwide. NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System tracks emissions of two of the most prevalent and environmentally damaging greenhouse gases: carbon and methane. Systems such as the CMS play a critical role in monitoring and evaluating initiatives designed to curb pollution, such as the Paris Climate Accord.

This latest move represents another in a continued effort at preventing organizations like NASA from initiating and enforcing environmental protections. Under the guidance of the climate change skeptic whom the President hand-selected to head NASA, the organization has seen a massive cut in funding and prominence for earth science programs. Now this environmentally hostile administration—and the President in particular—have in their crosshairs another NASA fixture that analyzes the earth’s carbon levels. If the President’s expectations are met, within two years the Orbiting Carbon Conservatory will be no more.

Sign this petition and demand Congress provide full funding for this critical environmental tool.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Representative Frelinghuysen,

GEDI—a carbon monitoring instrument—will debut at the International Space Station this year. And by the day, European countries are investing in revolutionary technologies that can protect our environment and help build a better future.

How has the United States contributed to these efforts recently? Within the past few days and against the advice of qualified scientific professionals, NASA was unceremoniously stripped of its own key carbon monitoring system. More cuts are looming, with the target currently being trained on another NASA mainstay that helps track detrimental pollutants. If left unrestrained, these destructive pollutant forces can and will turn our own earth against us.

Other countries are more than willing to step into the future and fill a critical environmental leadership gap that the United States has abandoned. These countries will reap the rewards, financial and otherwise. Make a statement to the world and to the citizens of this country that the planet we call home will not be forsaken.

The Carbon Monitoring System fell in large part because it did not receive needed funding. Do not let the same fate befall another important tool for earth scientists. Fund the NASA Orbiting Carbon Conservatory—and invest in earth science—for your next budget and for years to come.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Draeger

Explore Solar’s Power to Save the World

Target: Rick Perry, United States Secretary of Energy

Goal: Invest in solar technology that saves money, saves jobs, and saves the environment.

California is poised to take a major step forward in its renewable energy initiatives. In complement to its program that provides financial incentives for the installation of solar panels on existing homes, state leadership will now likely approve mandatory guidelines that would make all new homes solar-friendly. When it passes, this initiative could set a promising standard for environmentally conscious energy practices that other states might model.

While the new template would provide exemptions in limited cases, almost all newly constructed homes would have to be fitted with solar panels by the year 2020. Not only could this important move save homeowners an estimated tens of thousands of dollars in energy consumption a year, more importantly, it would make one of the least environmentally damaging energy sources a crucial cornerstone of one of the nation’s most populous regions. Just about 20 percent of current California citizens have partially solar-powered homes, so boosting this number could be a boon for the surrounding environment.

Sign this petition to urge the nation’s leading energy organization to monitor California’s experiment closely and consider how solar power might benefit the entire nation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perry,

California is poised to become a leader in solar power and renewable energy initiatives. The state energy commission will soon make a major push for solar panel inclusion on most newly constructed homes and living spaces. Experts estimate up to $60,000 in energy savings for the state’s citizens.

This technology holds much promise for the future as a continuous, independent energy source that will never deplete and never emit harmful substances that slowly poison our environment and its inhabitants. While efficiency and cost remain concerns, every day technology is evolving to meet these concerns. This technology can only realize its potential, however, through time and investment. Solar technology has already been demonstrated as a major driver of job creation.

Investing in this technology is an investment in the economy, the environment, and, most of all, in the future of this planet. Please take lessons learned from one of America’s most influential states and implement a nationwide plan of investment in solar panels and solar technology.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jon Callas

Save One of Yellowstone’s Most Popular Animals from Hunters

Target: Scott Talbott, Director at Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Goal: Do not sanction the killing of Yellowstone grizzly bears.

Yellowstone National Park just became the latest example of what dangers loom when an animal is prematurely removed from the federal endangered species list. Despite a court’s earlier contention that states should not be given free reign over their grizzly bear populations, the United States Interior Department recently gave the three states collectively housing Yellowstone National Park permission to hunt and kill the park’s vulnerable grizzly population at will.

The announcement comes as the department rescinded federal Yellowstone grizzly protections that first began in 1975. As a result of these protections, Yellowstone’s grizzly population had increased by seven times its number before protections were put in place. Now, this progress may well be lost as the still-struggling grizzlies, who already only cover less than five percent of their natural habitats, now face hunting threats compounded by more habitat loss due to climate change.

Two states, Wyoming and Idaho, quickly seized upon this outrageous reversal by proposing grizzly bear hunts as soon as this fall. Under Wyoming’s proposed new guidelines, hunters could claim the lives of up to 24 grizzlies.

Sign this petition and demand the Wyoming Game and Fish Department veto a proposal that threatens the livelihood of some of its state’s most awe-inspiring living beings.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Talbott,

About 50,000 grizzly bears once spanned this country, many of them calling your state home. Relentless hunting of these animals plummeted their numbers to genocidal levels and drove them to the federal endangered species list.

Now, when the grizzly is finally recovering from its near-extinction, it has been stripped of the very shields that protected it and preserved it for the enjoyment of generations of Yellowstone National Park’s visitors.

Just as the gray wolf received special consideration and protection because of its value to the environment and to your state’s history, the state’s grizzly bear population deserves the same respect. Do not take advantage of the Interior Department’s decision and put these vulnerable animals in the crosshairs of hunters.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

EPA Leadership: Stop Assaulting Science

Target: Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, Environmental Protection Agency

 Goal: Allow the use of crucial scientific resources in developing environmental policies.

In the wake of the March for Science, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is launching a  new attack on science that could threaten environmental and public health efforts. This time, the highly controversial EPA head is taking aim at the scientific research that has informed so much of our current understanding on environmental and health issues, such as a highly touted Harvard study that linked air pollution to premature death. These are exactly the kinds of beneficial tools that scientists sought to protect when they recently converged in Washington and protested alongside the president’s motorcade.

The latest attack by Pruitt, a well-known former foe of the organization he now leads, would dismiss and undermine scientific data that has not been publicized or reproduced. This step would very likely disregard many clinical studies that do not publicly disclose specific data because it would violate patient privacy. Therefore, reports that make an effort to retain patient confidentiality, like the aforementioned Harvard study, would be considered “wrongheaded,” in the words of Pruitt.

Pruitt and his allies view this maneuver as an attack on so-called “secret science”—a long-time, beneficial tool of the EPA—and on apparent “hidden agendas.” Scientists immediately called out Pruitt’s proposal as yet another assault on scientific integrity, however. Opponents hope to use the one-month period before the proposal goes into effect to reverse this damaging decision.

Sign the petition below and help these advocates stand up for the science that informs and enriches our environment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Orme-Zavaleta,

In celebration of Earth Day, science professionals and everyday citizens from every state implored government leaders to “save the earth from dying.” In response to these passionate requests, the EPA announced plans to strip away some of the most invaluable and vital scientific tools at our disposal.

The proposed elimination of key science data outlined in the “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” guidelines would take direct aim at, among other things, insightful clinical data that relies upon confidential medical information as a critical resource. If this regulation were in place previously, decades of essential information that has informed environmental and public health policies would have been lost.

With cuts to both environmental and health programs already on the horizon, you cannot afford to sacrifice the tools that have long bettered this country and its most precious resources. Stop this damaging proposal today.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Zuzanna K. Filutowska

Ban Dangerous Plastic Bags that Slaughter Marine Wildlife

Target: Thomas F. O’Mara, Chairman of the New York Senate Committee for Environmental Conservation

Goal: Ban plastic bags that are polluting the oceans and harming marine life.

April 22nd marked the 48th Earth Day, and this year’s festivities included a major call to action to end plastic pollution. Degraded plastic releases pollutants that threaten wildlife worldwide, especially in our oceans. Even non-degraded plastic bags and other material can create a dangerous hazard for animals that may ingest or become trapped in the material. Current estimates put the number of oceanic animals killed per year due to plastic pollution at around 100,000.

While increased education and awareness about this issue and about recycling can fuel future action, now our best tools for change rest within the legal framework. Currently, many countries and regions ban single-use plastic bags that cannot be reused. Americans go through 100 billion of these oil-based products per year and use each for an average of only twelve minutes. Those few minutes can create a lifetime of long-term damage. Consider if just one major US state could put a dent in this danger and set an example for the rest of the country.

Currently, New York leadership is considering just such a step. Sign this petition and encourage one of the leading US states to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags for the future of our water sources and the living beings who rely on these sources.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator O’Mara,

“A devastating toll on our streets, our water, and our natural resources…”

These are the powerful and true words Governor Cuomo used to highlight the tremendous impact plastic pollution has on our environment. The New York State Plastic Bags Task Force provided concrete form to Governor Cuomo’s grave assertions. Every lake, stream, and ocean provides irrefutable anecdotal evidence of this danger, from turtles with plastic traces found in their carcasses to fish trapped in discarded trash. The negative cycle of plastic pollution will inevitably pose a public health danger as well.

We urge you to join cities and states around the world by approving the bill that would ban deadly single-use plastic bags. Honor your governor’s vow to protect our environment and all of its inhabitants.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Derek Keats