Don’t Mine Our Beautiful National Monuments

Target: Saf Dhillon, CEO of Glacier Lake Resources, Inc.

Goal: Prevent the destruction of previously protected national monuments from mining.

A Canadian mining company has purchased property that was formerly part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. With the Trump administration’s rollback of federally protected lands last year, this area is now going to be stripped and destroyed for a profit.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was dedicated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It encompassed 1.9 million acres southeast of Boulder, Utah and was previously America’s largest national monument. In December of 2017, the Trump administration committed the largest reversal of federal land protection, reducing the area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half, to about one million acres. This means that the former federal protections will no longer prevent mining and development; what was once a pristine landscape could now be gone forever.

Conservation organizations currently suing the Trump administration maintain that only Congress has the authority to revoke or modify national monument status. This means that President Trump’s action in reducing the federally protected area of the affected national monuments was illegal and the 200 acres of the Colt Mesa sold to Vancouver-based mining company, Glacier Lake Resources, Inc., was not Trump’s to sell. This land should not be available for commercial development, which would destroy the beauty and environmental treasure that is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Sign the petition to encourage this mining company to show some restraint in favor of environmental protection and stop efforts to mine this land which, even if not in name, is still a national treasure.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Dhillon,

Your company’s proposed development of land formerly included in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is deplorable. Glacier Lake Resources should not be mining this area. Even if the federal protections have been revoked in name, and even this is debatably legal, the Colt Mesa is still considered a national treasure.

Under the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated authority for the establishment of national monuments to the president. However, Congress maintained the authority to revoke or modify these federal protections. President Trump sold you something that wasn’t his to give. Proponents of these rollbacks might tell you that his power in revoking protection is implicit in this regulation. I for one am not comfortable staking a claim, literally or figuratively, based on implicit power.

This “welcome addition” to your portfolio is a pristine landscape and a national treasure. It is not too late to prevent development of this important landmark. Stop your company’s assault on our environment and do not mine Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Peter Fitzgerald

Support Victory for Conservation in Florida

Target: Rick Abbott, Chair of the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Goal: Congratulate Florida on passing a constitutional amendment to conserve precious Florida land.

The State of Florida recently passed a constitutional amendment requiring the state spend a billion dollars to purchase land for conservation efforts instead of allowing that land to be developed on. The move was an act by Floridians to ensure that they can keep a legal stake in their home state’s land without having to worry about the land being sold for industrial purposes. Thanks to the ruling by a local judge, Florida now has a billion more dollars to allocate towards land conservation.

Opponents of the move were big companies who wanted to develop on the very land that was up for auction and if they had gotten their way, the land would be demolished and polluted forever. Thanks to some dedicated Floridians and the tireless efforts of conversation groups, the conservation efforts will continue without roadblocks by private entities. Stand with us in thanking Florida for making the right choice.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Abbott,

Thanks to the efforts of the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, Florida no longer has to worry about losing a billion dollars worth of valuable resources to industries who only want to abuse that privilege. If we did not have conservation groups like yours fighting the good fight, who knows what would happen to our priceless heritage and resources?

Florida is an essential stitch in the tapestry of ecological diversity we have crafted here in the United States, if we do not protect this tapestry then the very values of America are at stake. We were built with respect for our beautiful ecology and it’s environmental decisions like this that allow us to continue respecting these ecologies. We thank you for your hard work.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey

Success: Seattle Bans Plastic Straws

Target: Jenny Durkan, Mayor of Seattle

Goal: Congratulate Seattle on banning plastic straws.

Seattle just scored a huge victory for their local ecology and the ocean waters around the Puget Sound by officially outlawing the usage of plastic straws. We have been talking about this issue for quite some time and Seattle just made leaps and bounds in the right direction. The ban of plastic straws in Seattle officially marks a step forward in the fight against disposable plastics.

Plastic straws are one of the top pollutants of the world’s ocean ecology and considering the U.S. consumes 500 million plastic straws on a daily basis, we’ve got a long way to go to undo some of the damage done by these harmful plastics. We still have petitions to the EPA, the United Nations, and many other worldwide organizations dedicated to protecting our ecology. We need your help to keep spreading the word that plastics have no place in our waters. Right now though, we congratulate Seattle on a huge step in the right direction.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Durkan,

This victory in the fight against disposable plastics in our oceans is one of the many incredible news stories to come out of Seattle. Thank you for your help in turning Seattle into a place where people can truly vote with their progressive values. Thanks to the legislation of the Seattle City Council, the future of the oceans is looking a lot cleaner.

We encourage you in your progressive efforts and hope you continue to pleasantly surprise the rest of the world with your policy decisions. Thanks to your bright eyes for the future, our children have a home to look forward to. We thank you for your efforts, Seattle.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit:JnL

Take Interior Department to Task for Damaging Anti-Environmental Decisions

Target: Michael Nedd, Acting Deputy Director for U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management

Goal: Do not diminish efforts to conserve America’s natural landscapes.

America’s natural environment is in more danger than ever. For decades, conservation of lands has stood as one of the primary missions of the United States Department of the Interior. Yet as this federal agency—like many alongside it—becomes increasingly politicized, the values and mission of the organization are disappearing, now supplanted by new ‘priorities’ that include “protect[ing] the border” and “strik[ing] a regulatory balance.”

In a broad move that will have a strong impact on environmental conservation efforts nationwide, the department is considering significantly slashing funds for conservation grants it offers to community and state land preservation efforts. A more low-key but equally detrimental move in the long term involves new guidelines the department has put in place that will hobble the ability of geologists to attend the field’s two major scientific conferences. In new guidelines critics label censorship, materials to be used in presentations will be screened not by expert professionals but a departmental political appointee. If the materials do not support the department’s new priorities, then these scientists will be stifled from collaborating with their colleagues on matters of urgent importance.

Geologists provide critical insights on a host of environmental issues, including habitat restoration, water contamination, and the impacts of natural disasters. Their work must be allowed to continue unhindered by politics. Sign this petition to demand the Interior Department abide by one of its core missions and stop assaulting conservation and key research efforts.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Mr. Nedd,

Land management stands as a fixture of the Department of the Interior, yet with each passing day this vital effort seems to be under assault from within. As the leader tasked with overseeing the operation of land management programs nationwide, does it trouble you that the financial lifeblood of such efforts is being squeezed with every new undermining policy? If grants for the conservation efforts that preserve and sustain our nation’s precious lands are curtailed, then at some point in the increasingly near future, you will be managing nothing but remnants, ghosts, and wisps of once-vibrant habitats.

In the same vein, hobbling the efforts of the geological professionals who should be valued colleagues and allies via political interference will only further diminish protections for our lands and its resources. While you may not have direct authority over these matters, you can be a strong, powerful voice that speaks for the lands that cannot speak for themselves.

Please fulfill your mission and advocate for our country’s most irreplaceable natural marvels.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Walton LaVonda

Stop Hydroelectric Dams from Destroying Cambodia’s Ecosystems

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Prevent dams constructed for hydropower from negatively impacting fishing migration patterns and fishers’ and farmers’ livelihoods.

Eleven hydroelectric dam projects along the Mekong River in Cambodia threaten the area’s river ecology and fish populations. These dams could irreparably harm seasonal flood patterns and the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen who rely on the river. Permanent environmental destruction will occur with the development of the hydroelectric dams.

During monsoon season, the Mekong River floods May through November and backs up into the Tonle Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake. After the rain ends and water recedes, the river flow reverses in the Tonle Sap River and it returns to being a tributary to the Mekong River. Farmers rely on the flood waters bringing nutrients and sediment to their farm fields and fishermen rely on the predictable fish migration patterns. Residents in the area have built their lives and culture around the flooding, constructing floating or stilted homes and using the natural patterns of the river for their income. The dams would significantly alter this hydrology, changing fish migration patterns, altering sediment deposition, and otherwise threatening the food security of the area. Fish and rice are food staples not only in Cambodia but in all of Southeast Asia.

The hydroelectric dams might be a step towards modernizing Cambodia but they will come at a cost. The livelihoods of the residents that the hydropower will purportedly help could be destroyed by this development. That is not to mention the significant environmental destruction. Sign the petition to prevent the destruction of the Mekong River and irreversible damage to the residents who rely on it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

The hydroelectric dam projects up and down the Mekong River threaten Cambodia’s ecosystems and residents. It is understood that the hydroelectric dams are meant to modernize Cambodia and provide electricity to the half of the population without, but this comes at a significant cost. The residents here have adapted to the predictable flood patterns during monsoon season, building their lives and culture around it. Farmers and fishermen rely on fish migration patterns and sediment deposition to feed themselves and the region. The majority of the region’s fish, rice, and vegetables come from small farms. Cambodia’s food security would be threatened, not to mention all of Southeast Asia. All of this would be permanently and negatively impacted by changing the hydrology of the Mekong River with more hydroelectric dams.

Please, do not let modernization destroy your ecosystems and residents’ lives. Consideration needs to be made for the damage to the Mekong River hydrology, fishing migration patterns, and the residents who rely on the river to feed their families. Stop the development of these hydroelectric dams and allow your citizens to carry on their way of life unimpeded.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov

Protect Us from Polluters: Eliminate Corruption in the EPA

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove political appointees with conflicts of interest from the EPA.

Close to 50% of EPA political appointees have ties to industry under the current administration, according to a study by the AP. With high-ranking officials in positions to ignore or bend the rules for former employees, questions regarding conflict of interest are raised. How can the EPA protect the public and enforce environmental regulations with so many employees having questionable loyalties?

The EPA recently named Steven Cook as the new chair of the Superfund Task Force, after the former chair resigned amid scandal. Cook has been at the EPA since February of 2018 as the deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, but prior to that spent over two decades as a lawyer for LyondellBasell Industries, one of the country’s largest chemicals, plastics, and refining companies, and a known past and allegedly present-day polluter. Of the approximately 1,300 toxic cleanup sites that the Superfund Task Force is in charge of monitoring, six are the responsibility of Lyondell Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Cook’s former employer. In 2010, Lyondell Chemical Co. settled with the U.S. government for $250 million for the cleanup of these six Superfund sites as well as nine other polluted sites. LyondellBasell is suspected by the EPA of polluting over thirty other sites.

The person previously entrusted to defend a known polluter is now in charge of supposedly expediting cleanup at their pollution sites, and many others. Rather than recuse himself, Cook, along with many other EPA officials previously from these industries, hides behind the flimsy belief that the ethics briefings mandated by the EPA are enough. But these are not sufficient to guarantee impartiality or the public’s safety. Sign the petition to call for the investigation and removal from the EPA of political appointees with ties to companies being regulated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The EPA under your administration has become a corrupt, toothless organization. Rather than protecting the environment and enforcing regulation, the EPA under your guidance is being systematically dismantled from within by employees who formerly represented or worked for the companies they are supposed to be regulating. The AP identifies one-third of last year’s 60 hires to the EPA as former lawyers or lobbyists for EPA-regulated companies. Nearly half of political appointees under your administration have some connection with industries regulated by the EPA. Steven Cook, the chair of the Superfund Task Force, spent over twenty years as a lawyer for a company whose sites he is now in charge of remediating.

This kind of flagrant ethical violation will not be tolerated by the American people. Discontinue the appointment of regulators from companies that are regulated, and remove people like Steven Cook, Nancy Beck, and countless others from positions where they can benefit their former employers. We need and deserve a clean environment, free from unregulated and unmitigated pollution.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: WhisperToMe

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

Protect Napa Valley from Environmental Degradation

Target: Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo

Goal: Urge companies in Napa Valley not to overexploit the land.

Wine industry experts like Warren Winiarski are calling for limitations in Napa Valley, California over environmental concerns. In 1976, his Stag’s Leap Winery won top honors at a blind tasting in Paris that transformed the Napa region into a global wine contender. Since then, he has become one of many residents and local business owners concerned about the area’s gradual ecological decline. The problem: former rich oak woodlands are being converted into labyrinths of vines. Fewer trees mean less oxygen, less replenished groundwater, and more chances for soil erosion. Today the question persists: has Napa Valley reached its agricultural limit?

To raise awareness about these environmental concerns, there’s an ongoing local initiative called Measure C. The committee’s goal is to put a cap on the amount of oak tress to be cleared for the development of future vineyards. Currently there are approximately 500 wineries in the valley, which is only 30 miles long, five miles wide, and one of California’s most beloved natural treasures. Many of these companies are foreign-owned and seeking profits at all costs. Sign the petition to urge one of the largest enterprises in the area (though based in the U.K.) to respect the finite resources of Napa Valley.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Menezes,

As you’re probably well aware, there’s a growing movement in Napa Valley to preserve the integrity of the former landscape. Prior to the influx of vineyards over 30 years ago, this region was full of biodiversity, with plentiful livestock and fruit trees. Now the monoculture of grapes has taken over and augmented further deforestation, resulting in ninety-five percent of local oaks being cut down and replaced with grapes. Considering that developers aspire to expand operations in nearby hillsides, please commit yourself to preserving the last vestiges of the original terrain.

These woodlands play a vital role in Napa Valley’s ecology. What remains of the once-thriving oak forest serves an essential role in the valley’s watershed. Don’t allow the pursuit of power and wealth overshadow the importance of protecting natural resources like water and healthy soil. The reality of the situation is that more than a third of the remaining trees rest on fertile grounds that vineyard enterprises like yourself want to capitalize on. It’s estimated that by 2030, approximately 3,065 more acres will have disappeared due to the growing wine industry. We aren’t demanding your company go out of business, just that it embrace responsible farming. Know your limitations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Webster

Praise Colorado For Advancing Clean Energy

Target: David L. Eves, President of Xcel Energy

Goal: Praise Xcel energy for pledging their future to clean energy.

Colorado’s biggest energy supplier just announced a huge victory for the clean energy sector, when they detailed a plan to remove 2 coal plants from Southern Colorado. The removal of the plants isn’t all, though, the company plans to replace the plants with the largest clean energy package ever to replace a coal plant. On top of all that, the plan is scheduled to save ratepayers over 200 million dollars.

This news is a huge step for Midwestern states like Colorado, who have relied heavily on fracking and coal plants for far too long. As Colorado pledges themselves for clean energy, neighboring states like Wyoming and New Mexico have reason to follow in their footsteps. Victories like this have a snowball effect and should be congratulated. Sign the petition below to thank the CEO of Xcel for getting the ball rolling.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eves,

Thank you for embracing the new generations of energetic possibilities. It is not every day that a major utility commits to shifting from coal to renewable energy, but Xcel appears to be doing this with its recently-announced decision to replace two coal plants in Colorado with renewables. Decisions like yours are crucial to implementing a reform to our energy industry.

If every energy manufacturer were like you, we would already be completely energy self sufficient. Thank you for choosing the future and for doing away with our archaic coal plants, one at a time. We thank you for your service to the environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: PD Tillman

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