Do Not Make Longtime Environmental Opponent Secretary of State

Target: Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader

Goal: Do not appoint a nominee who fights environmental causes to one of the nation’s highest government offices.

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo has faced scrutiny over his position on some human rights issues, but Congress has paid minimal attention to the former CIA director’s threat to environmental efforts. Pompeo’s hardline views on climate change and his cozy relationship with corporate environmental abusers distinguishes him as a looming danger that could prove even more destructive than the former big oil executive whom he will replace.

Pompeo stands accused of playing a prominent role in influencing President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, one of many efforts at climate diplomacy that the Secretary of State nominee has advocated against. Pompeo also stands as an alleged avid spreader of lies about climate change and a staunch advocate for big oil interests. If confirmed, he will likely push for Arctic drilling: a measure that would further devastate an already vulnerable, key portion of the world.

With enough votes, Pompeo’s nomination could be blocked, potentially averting more catastrophic environmental policies. While some senators have already pledged to veto the current nomination, stronger guidance and leadership can secure the necessary ‘no’ votes needed. Sign this petition and compel Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to take a stand for the environment and against a man who could unleash a fresh wave of environmental and subsequent human rights crises upon the world.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Schumer,

The United States has remained one of the world’s most prominent players in environmentalism, for good and ill. Anecdotal evidence tells us by the day what scientists have long warned: human-induced global trends in climate change pillage not only our environment, but also communities worldwide impacted by subsequent drought, mass migration, natural disasters, public health crises, and so much more.

Some of your colleagues have vowed to say no to a man who will likely propagate these dangerous trends: Mike Pompeo. Distressingly little attention has been given in the confirmation hearings to Pompeo’s questionable-at-best, deeply concerning record on environmental issues. From attacks on the Paris Climate Accord and other environmentally friendly initiatives to wholesale cheerleading for destructive drilling and similar actions that value corporate interests over global protection, Pompeo is poised to be one of environmental welfare’s strongest foes.

Please weigh the pros and the cons of confirming Pompeo and ask yourself if a ‘yes’ vote will be a long-lasting ‘no’ to the future of the world we all call home.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Trump, Tell Unethical EPA Chief ‘You’re Fired!’

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove the EPA administrator for ethics violations.

Seemingly every day, more details emerge about the egregious ethics violations committed by EPA head Scott Pruitt. With this continuous stream of allegations, more demands for Pruitt’s resignation or firing emerge as well. Recently, over 60 members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump calling for the embattled EPA chief’s resignation.

Most of the allegations swirl around gross financial abuse of organizational funds, including millions of dollars in extravagant travel expenses, office furniture worth more than the annual salary of the average American worker, use of emergency vehicles as ‘escorts’ to a  lavish restaurant, and a security detail that far eclipses security for the president himself.

Even more troubling , however, are the actions that have a direct impact on the future of a vital American agency. In line with the unprecedented number of lobbyists now circling the EPA, Pruitt rented a luxury room from a well-known lobbyist in the energy industry that falls under EPA regulation. When concerned EPA employees exposed these abuses, they were punished with demotion.

While other EPA employees categorize Pruitt’s tenure as a “low point,” President Trump continues a wholehearted defense of his foot soldier in unprecedented assaults on environmentalism. Sign this petition to hold the president to his campaign promise of “draining the swamp.”

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

‘Drain the swamp.’

This was one of your most consistent and passionate rally cries. With your continued defense of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, you have broken this pledge.

Will you stand in support of someone who views office furniture as more valuable than a year’s worth of work from the average American? Will you pat the back of an individual who believes he is entitled to travel, accommodations, and security rivaling that of the president? Will you pledge your allegiance to a ‘swamp creature’ who uses his influence and taxpayer dollars to advance his own interests, or will you pledge allegiance to the United States of America and the individuals who elected you to be ‘their’ champion?

The choice is clear. Back Pruitt, or back the people.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Stop Road Accidents That Kill Countless Animals

Target: Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Goal: Invest in roadway technologies that save human and animal lives.

If you have never been personally caught in a roadway accident involving an animal, you likely know someone who has experienced this danger. An estimated one billion dollars in damages result from such collisions every year. The more tragic statistics, however, mark the number of lives lost: some human, but most overwhelmingly animal deaths. Larger animals such as deer may get the courtesy of having their bodies removed from roadways if only to prevent vehicle ‘obstruction’ or damage. The lives of so many other animals are reduced to gory splatters on roads and highways across America.

Animal crossings present a viable solution to preventable tragedies where wildlife and civilization collide. Utilizing the best minds in science, engineering, and transportation planning, animal crossing initiatives develop safe passages for animals living and traveling near busy roadways. These projects include fencing around particularly dangerous areas, as well as construction of bridges, overpasses, and underpasses. Studies have validated that animals ranging from bears to deer do make use of these structures when they are available, curtailing countless accidents and fatalities. More beneficial still, these structures let animals travel the distances they need in order to ensure the diversity and replenishment of their species.

While animal crossings have become increasingly popular around the world, their numbers still remain woefully underrepresented in North America. Sign this petition to encourage the Department of Transportation to give this investment in human and animal safety a more in-depth evaluation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Chao,

America spends billions of dollars on wildlife-related road accidents every year. Despite the loss of property and of life, a key tool in combating these preventable tragedies has not garnered the needed support. When an animal crossing initiative failed in Colorado despite its governor’s support, decision-makers cited cost as a major obstacle. Will these costs ever equal the losses already incurred, however, and the many more losses that will likely take place in the future?

Structures around the world, including one prominent structure in Alberta, Canada, are testament to the success of animal crossings in preventing roadway accidents and in helping wildlife flourish. Dedicated designers forge strong collaborations with highway planners, with conservation groups, with scientists and engineers, and with all interested parties in order to evaluate what works best. They also gather the necessary data to measure the effectiveness of these crossings, making maximum use of infrared cameras and other helpful technologies. The most important goal of these designers, though, lays in reaching out to the public and to policymakers about the benefit of these vastly underrepresented life-savers.

Please reach out in turn to discuss, collaborate, and ultimately implement a framework for wildlife crossing development nationwide.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: State Farm

Clean Power Trumps Pollution: Hold Super-Polluter Accountable

Target: William H. Spence, Chairman, President, and CEO of PPL Corporation

Goal: Demand one of the country’s top polluters enact clean power solutions.

Toxic: this is a fitting word for agents that cause impaired lung development, respiratory disease, and premature death. These effects just represent the toll on humans. The impact toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions exert on the environment is manifest in a different kind of symptomology: rising water levels, erratic swings in temperature, dying ecosystems, and unforgiving natural disasters. A few years ago, an alarming study about America’s ‘super-polluters’ revealed that just 100 US companies released fully one-third of this country’s pollutants into the atmosphere. America ranks only behind China as the world’s largest polluter, so a mere 100 companies not only pollute US skies, they add millions of metric tons of environmental killers to the world as a whole. Of these 100 companies, energy giant PPL Corporation stands among the very worst. With continued federal deregulation and lacking EPA support, destructive organizations like these will continue to destroy our environment unchecked.

The Center for Public Integrity’s super-polluters list measured companies based on toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas levels. Two separate top-100 lists resulted, and several companies had the ‘honor’ of making both of these lists. Only PPL, however, had three offenders on both lists. In the time since this list’s unveiling, PPL has done little to mend its destructive practices. The organization remains the seventh biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country. Recently, PPL’s shareholders approved a measure requiring reports of how any climate change initiative would curtail their earnings. While some of the organization’s plants run by oil and natural gas, several—particularly in Kentucky—are powered by coal, a significant pollutant-inducer.

EPA leaders are continuing efforts to abolish the Clean Power Plan and its requirements for states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, PPL may feel emboldened to abandon modernization investments for its plants. Sign this petition and urge PPL leadership to take a significant step into the future for the sake of progress and, more importantly, for the longevity of our environment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Spence,

Across the country, similar stories unfold in disadvantaged regions. Much is emphasized about the economic well-being of these communities, but distressingly little is said about a more insidious, devastating problem. Residents of these regions are literally being choked and strangled over a long period of time. From Indiana to Kentucky to Pennsylvania, these residents and the very air they breathe are under assault from poison. Much of this poison rests in your organization’s hands.

You have the dishonor of being named one of the country’s most prominent super-polluters. Your emissions—most notably from your coal-powered plants—consistently rank you in the top 10 of carbon dioxide contributors in the United States. It is not too late, however, to reverse this trend— to put environmental and public health before profit margins.

Follow through with plans to create an energy infrastructure that better reflects the direction of the rest of the world. This will help you stay in step with your progress-minded competitors while implementing a new, better mission for your organization’s future. Honor the spirit of the Clean Power Plan and clean up the chaotic damage you have helped create.

Be a true consumer advocate and ambassador for change by leaving pollution and toxicity in the past and by forging a better, cleaner path forward.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jason Hawkes

Support Shoe Company’s Unconventional Role as Environmental Champion

Target: David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas

Goal: Back companies driven by missions of environmental sustainability and eco-friendly policies.

In response to the bold actions of some manufacturers in the wake of the Parkland massacre, a new tool for advocacy and reform has gained prominence: the ‘buycott.’ Rather than refusing to support certain businesses, as happens in a boycott, the buycott is designed to reward those organizations that step up to aid a popular cause. This approach reflects the increasing power of the consumer. For individuals advocating environmental and related animal welfare causes, a German shoe company has emerged as an unlikely but strong ally.

Birkenstock, a maker of comfort-based footwear, recently received an award from PETA’s youth branch for its strong advocacy of veganism. The company’s contributions to such causes—now spanning over five decades—are ingrained in its very production processes. Sustainability remains a key goal , with environmentally friendly materials such as water-soluble adhesives and natural cork safely taken from trees embedded in the makeup of Birkenstock’s popular sandals. These materials also make the shoes easily reusable at the point when many other types of footwear would have been discarded and relegated to waste piles. In addition to its products, Birkenstock likewise emphasizes environmental awareness in its packaging and even in its store designs. Carbon emission and consumed energy reduction are consistent priorities in these processes and in the planning of future campaigns.

Consumers can affect change by empowering organizations that share their values while sending a strong message to those who only value the bottom financial line. Sign this petition to support Birkenstock and other business leaders willing to support our environment and all its precious resources.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kahan,

Social responsibility and sustainability are prominently featured on your website. You consistently demonstrate these commitments in actions as well as words. Congratulations on the Libby Award given you by PETA’s youngest members. While your commitment to veganism is admirable, you provide an even more far-reaching benefit to all of this planet’s living beings through your dedication to environmentally sound processes and initiatives.

Every day, you are demonstrating how a company can succeed without sacrificing quality, comfort, or, most importantly, integrity. In a world where our environment is increasingly under assault, it is heartening to see progressive entrepreneurs who recognize the value of our world’s natural resources.

Please continue your eco-friendly approach and know that consumers who care stand behind you every step of the way.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Osakabe Yasuo

Save Rapidly Disappearing Whales from Extinction

Target: Angela Somma, Division Chief of the NOAA Office of Protected Resources, Endangered Species Conservation Division

Goal: Protect future generations of a critically endangered whale.

Amazing sea creatures that inspired awesome tales once roamed freely and plentifully in the North Atlantic Ocean. Now these awe-inspiring beings stand at a worldwide level of 450. The right whale, a long-time victim of unrestrained human practices, is on the brink of extinction.

In late February, researchers offered a status update on these vulnerable animals and the results were not promising. Whale sightings off the coast of Georgia and Florida—frequent winter destinations for right whales—remain extremely sparse. More disheartening still, no young calves have been found in the vicinity. The prospects for this population renewing its ranks grow murkier by the day.

The right whale is a sight to behold, spanning up to sixty feet and weighing upwards of 300,000 pounds. Their striking nature unfortunately made them vulnerable to whalers, who craved these animals for their benevolence, their near-to-the-coast swimming patterns, and their high blubber content. While the danger from these hunters abated after the right whale received endangered species protections, trends in global warming have disturbed these animals’ migration patterns and endangered the homes they rely upon for safety and sustenance. Addressing the dangers of global warming remains a work in progress, but the dangers imposed on right whales from other careless human activity can be more immediately rectified.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and other officials have been proactive in developing guidelines that helped significantly reduce two major dangers to right whales: ship strikes and fishing net entanglements. Critical calving and breeding grounds, however, have not received the needed level of protection. For example, a little over six years ago. the US Navy was granted permission to build an underwater training structure within short distance of one key whale calving area. Since then, a few calving areas have been given critical habitat designation, which helps protect them from some, but not all, human intrusion.

Sight this petition to urge the NOAA to be even more proactive in taking the necessary measures to save one of the world’s great living beings.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Somma,

Efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale have proven successful. The 2006 Strategy to Reduce Ship Strikes , the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction plan, and breeding ground revitalization efforts all address critical facets in ensuring this species’ continued survival.

We fear, however, that at a time when these animals’ well-being stands at its most precarious tipping point, you have scaled back your protective efforts. The latest reports from researchers indicate the already-sparse right whale population of 450 continues to shrink by the day. New members of this species are nowhere to be found. Rulings such as a 2012 decision to enable naval under-seas training near a calving ground constitute significant steps backward and an affront to conservation efforts.

Habitat loss, net entanglements, overhunting, and ship strikes have stood as some of the driving forces behind these animals becoming endangered. You have addressed several of these dangerous factors but others still need more work. Broadening your critical habitat designations (particularly relating to calving grounds) and leaving no room for loopholes and exceptions to these designations could become the most vital step yet.

Please recommit your resources and your best minds to saving some of the world’s most magnificent creatures from a tragic fate.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Catanzarit

Stop Purging Climate Change Information From EPA Website

Target: Harvey Simon, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Information

Goal: Reinstate climate change information for local governments to the EPA website.

“To reflect the approach of new leadership.” When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently defended the decision to remove anti-discrimination language from HUD’s mission statement, his words echoed an equally controversial defense from EPA chief Scott Pruitt. In mid-2017, the agency began quietly removing any references to human-induced climate change from its website. They more recently compounded this highly questionable maneuver by ‘archiving’ subpages and links intended to help local governments prepare for the effects of global warming. The climate change deniers who now run the EPA are denying the public essential facts and information.

In the April 2017 purge, specific sections devoted to climate change topics were taken down, replaced with indefinite messages about website ‘updates.’  Now, countless pages of scientific studies and factual information have been relegated to the EPA archives. An assistant to Pruitt argued for this purge and touted how the EPA wanted to strengthen its partnerships with local agencies, yet just a few short months later vital sources of information and aid were stripped away from these local partners. The most recent omissions include state strategies for emissions control and extreme weather response. In addition, at least 15 references to climate change on the former Climate and Energy Resources(now simply Energy Resources) page were removed.

Suppressing information is a favorite tactic of current officials, if the alleged Centers for Disease Control list of forbidden words –among these “science-based”—is any indication. Recently released documents show that the Trump administration targeted the EPA website as early as its first week in office. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt personally oversaw all material removed from the website, with special focus on Clean Power Plan goals and a climate change page for children with upwards of one million views monthly.

Do not let the EPA strike another blow through its dangerous denial of the environment’s greatest adversary. Demand the EPA website and, more importantly, the agency itself acknowledge the reality of climate change today.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Simon,

Your website has become a repository of updates and archives. This has allegedly been done to “reflect the priorities of the current administration.” Do not forget that your number one and guiding priority—your allegiance—is found in the very name of your agency: environmental protection.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do….I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” Nearly every reputable scientist in the world would disagree with Administrator Pruitt on this point. The final outcome, however, is not for the Administrator or for any scientist to decide.

The EPA website was designed as a means of connecting the public to this organization. Each individual can draw his or her own conclusion, but this conclusion must come from a well-informed, objective place. Scrubbing evidence that does not fit with one’s personal agenda is doing a disservice to the EPA website’s mission and to the people it serves. More so, failing to connect your local partners with vital information sources that will better equip them to address climate change impacts on their communities is a serious dereliction of duty.

Do the right thing and restore these important aids as well as all climate change information to your website today. Give the people the facts, not “priorities.”

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kentee Gardin

Praise China’s Fight Against Pollution

Target: Zhang Jianlong, Director of the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China

Goal: Encourage the restoration of millions of acres of forest in ravaged regions.

One of the world’s largest countries is doing its part in restoring our environment. As part of an ambitious plan to ensure up to one quarter of its lands are populated by forests within the next five years, Chinese leadership has enlisted the country’s army to take up arms against Earth’s most dangerous enemy: pollution. Roughly 60,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese police forces will be tasked with planting enough trees across the expansive lands to cover an area the size of Ireland.

This step continues a promising commitment to green initiatives for China. Projects such as the Grain for Green program have proven successful in encouraging rural landowners to plant trees in the hopes of preventing flooding and damaging soil erosion. While issues like lack of biodiversity arose with this project, the new initiative by the State Forestry Administration has the benefit of strong leadership and a clearer plan of action. Recognizing the important role of trees in neutralizing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and in combatting pollution, the government has already devoted $80 billion to reforestation efforts at a time when many countries are beset by deforestation. This largest initiative yet will add millions more trees to the landscape. Many of these trees will surround areas beset by heavy smog, offering some counterbalance to harmful pollutants.

China is transitioning into a world advocate for environmental causes on all fronts, with other longstanding efforts currently ongoing in areas such as solar power, waste reduction, and the curtailing of development projects that could damage precious resources like rivers and lakes. The country is also actively encouraging individuals and organizations to participate in its reforestation efforts.

Sign this petition to support and encourage China’s progressive drive to boost the health of our environment and our world.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Jianlong,

“Development must be scientific development, and we must persist in unswervingly carrying out the concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.” In a world that sometimes loses sight of this fundamental principle, it is immensely encouraging to see these words enshrined in China’s central philosophy. The ambitious plan to increase China’s forest coverage is so meaningful because it represents more than just an idea; it is a course of action that will be realized and implemented with the full support of your government.

As in many other facets of your green initiatives, you are ensuring that China will be part of the solution rather than a driver of the problem. Every day, we witness the effects of environmental carelessness in our water, our weather, our food supplies, and in the very air we breathe. As countries, we may celebrate different ideals and drape ourselves in different symbols and colors, but at our core we all live under one color: green.

Please stand strong in your commitment to our shared environment. Green initiatives are the essential key to your country’s future and the future of our world.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kevin Utting