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

Stop Plastic from Destroying Our Oceans and Ban All Plastic Straws

Target: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York

Goal: Ban the use of plastic straws in New York City restaurants and other businesses.

While global efforts to cut back on plastic use and promote recycling have been promising, progress is not being made fast enough to save marine species from becoming extinct. New York City lawmakers are now proposing a ban on the use of plastic straws in all restaurants citywide. The time has come to stop allowing these unnecessary products to litter beaches and cause harm to wildlife.

This proposed straw ban follows a failed attempt in New York City to add a five-cent fee on plastic and paper bag use. While the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has said that he supports banning plastic bags statewide, he has not yet commented on New York’s plans to ban disposable plastic straws. His influence and support could help sway public opinion and make it more likely that this ban will pass.

Plastic straws are wasteful and can be easily replaced with biodegradable ones made from paper or bamboo, or from reusable materials like metal. With the world facing a major catastrophe caused by the glut of plastic filling our oceans, the time to act is now. Help New York City lead the national movement to ban plastic straws and sign the petition below to urge Governor Cuomo to lend his support.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Plastic straws used in New York City restaurants are contributing to a global catastrophe as oceans become filled with plastic waste that harms wildlife and pollutes the water. Unlike straws made from biodegradable materials like bamboo or paper, plastic straws remain in the environment for many years and break down into smaller pieces that can kill or sicken marine creatures. That is why New York City council member Rafael Espinal is proposing a bill that would ban the use of plastic straws in all restaurants and businesses citywide.

This ban has already gained the support of over 130 local businesses, including many famous restaurants, museums and hotels. What this movement does not yet have, however, is your support and ability to influence public opinion. That is why we urge you to publicly offer your support for this ban and all other efforts to reduce plastic use throughout New York State.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: JnL

Stop Trump’s Trade War From Destroying Solar Power in America

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Stop all import taxes on solar panels made outside of the U.S. that are crippling the solar industry.

Solar energy companies are cancelling over 2.5 billion dollars’ worth of new large- scale solar projects in the United States as the result of tariffs placed on imported solar panels by the Trump Administration. While most other countries worldwide are looking to expand their solar projects, these import taxes are a sign that Trump is not interested in developing renewable energy, but would rather cling to obsolete and environmentally-damaging fossil fuels like coal and oil.

Solar energy industry leaders and environmentalists had warned President Trump that his proposed tariffs would kill thousands of American jobs and raise prices on solar energy to the point where it would no longer remain competitive. Especially damaging is the fact that efforts to create U.S. solar panel manufacturing jobs have not been able to keep up with the demand and that most panels are still being made overseas.

We must stop this international trade war that is damaging solar power in the U.S. and expand on efforts to increase solar panel manufacturing domestically. Please sign the below petition calling on Trump to lift the tariffs on imported solar panels.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

I am writing to demand that you stop imposing unnecessary tariffs on imported solar panels. Your trade policy is harmful to both the American economy and the environment, as shown by the over 2.5 billion dollars’ worth of canceled solar projects this year alone. Before these taxes went into effect, solar was posed to become one of the fastest-growing sectors, and could have resulted in thousands of new jobs.

The U.S. cannot afford to hold on to obsolete forms of energy like coal and oil. The world is outpacing us with new advances being made in renewable energy, including solar, at a rapid pace. There will be dire consequences for this country—and potentially the world— unless more is done to expand on solar. That is why I am urging you to lift these tariffs and allow this industry to compete on the global stage for the good of all Americans and for future generations to come.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

Ban Single-Use Plastic Products in the European Union

Target: Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

Goal: Support proposed ban of single-use plastic products in the European Union.

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and keep marine environments pristine, the European Commission proposed a ban on some single-use plastic products and a drastic decrease in the use of others. The ban targets products like plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, and sticks for balloons. It would also call for the reduction in the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by blocking their ability to be freely used. This plan mimics the practice of charging a nominal fee for plastic bags at supermarkets. The proposal awaits the approval of EU governments and the European Parliament.

In a statement the Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, said: “Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly. Today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.”

Sign this petition to urge the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, to support the ban of single-use plastic products.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Tajani,

The European Commission has proposed a ban on certain single-use plastic products and regulations that would drastically reduce the use of others. This would help to keep carbon emissions low as well as protect the fragile marine ecosystems that are most affected by single-use plastic waste. I urge you to support this proposed ban on single-use plastic items in the European Union.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier

Praise Costa Rica for Banning Fossil Fuels

Target: Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica

Goal: Praise Costa Rica government for banning fossil fuels.

President Carlos Alvarado has announced a complete ban on fossil fuels in Costa Rica. This establishes the small country as a major leader in political action that fights against climate change. While announcing the ban, Alvarado said: “Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first. We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies.”

The country has already committed to using renewable energy resources. Costa Rica gets over 99% of its electricity from renewable energy and last year the nation went 300 days without the use of fossil fuels for electricity. Although no specific plans were unveiled around the compete ban of fossil fuels, Costa Rica seems poised to be one of the first nations to succeed in using only renewable energy sources.

Sign this petition to praise the Costa Rican government for its commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Alvarado,

Your recent announcement on the ban of fossil fuels in Costa Rica sets up your nation to be one of the first to move to using 100% renewable energy. This ban shows a huge commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable Costa Rica; it also invites other nations to follow in your wake. I urge you to continue to enact policies that support environmental sustainability and I congratulate you on your decision to phase out fossil fuels.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John

Reduce Toxic Fumes in Rural India

Target: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister for Environment, Forest, & Climate Change

Goal: Reduce air pollution threatening rural populations in India.

Air pollution in India threatens rural citizens’ health, but monitoring and regulations focus on urban areas. With 70% of India’s population living in rural areas, the majority of India remains unprotected from inhaling hazardous air pollutants.

Researchers have modeled concentrations of ozone and particulate matter in the air across India and correlated these to premature mortality. Of the 7.6 million air pollution-related deaths per year worldwide, one million are estimated in India. The majority of these premature deaths are in rural populations from circulatory and respiratory conditions due to low air quality. Although the rural areas lack the industry and high transportation numbers generally associated with significant air pollution, rural areas experience other contributors such as indoor cooking over open flame and rural energy fueled primarily by wood, dung, or biomass. These, in addition to the pollution from factories and increasing use of cars in urban areas, contribute significantly to India’s air pollution, which disproportionately impacts often overlooked rural populations.

Monitoring and regulations associated with tracking and minimizing air pollution often focus on industrial and/or urban areas. However, as is the case in India, rural populations suffer as much if not more from the ill effects of poor air quality. Sign the petition to encourage Indian officials to focus pollution control efforts on their rural populations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Vardhan,

Industry, increased transportation, and the use of wood, dung, and biomass as fuel in rural areas is polluting India’s air. An estimated one million Indians die prematurely every year due to circulatory or respiratory conditions related to toxic air pollution. Many come from rural areas of India, where 70% of your population is living. Yet most of the resources and research on the effect of air pollution is focused on urban areas. This leaves the majority of your populations vulnerable to the adverse health effects of increased ozone and particulates in the air, taking an average of 3.4 years off the average lifespan of your citizens. Industry and transportation are often targeted in urban areas as the major polluters, but the burning of wood, dung, and biomass as primary fuel sources in rural areas are significant contributors to declining air quality.

Monitoring and research is required to understand and evaluate the health effects of inhaling these toxic pollutants. Education will also help in reducing the significant contributors to air pollution from rural life. Minister Vardhan, please, focus resources on curbing air pollution not just in urban areas but in rural areas, where the majority of India’s population suffers.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: McKay Savage

Do Not Bail Out Dirty Energy

Target: Rick Perry, Secretary of the United States Department of Energy

Goal: Stop intervention into the energy industry on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants.

A leaked memo from the Department of Energy revealed plans by the Trump Administration to force power grid operators to purchase electricity from declining coal-fired power plants in order to prevent their shutdown.

The proposal would use two federal laws, the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act, to direct electricity grid operators to purchase power from “more reliable” sources that have fuel located on-site, i.e. coal-fired, power plants. These plants are noncompetitive with cleaner, cheaper power plants that use natural gas and renewables, and are facing decommissioning and switchovers to other fuel sources. The leaked memo cites national security issues in encouraging the support of struggling dirty energy plants, however, grid operators and other experts reject the administration’s premise that there are reliability concerns with the current mix of natural gas and renewables for power generation. Instead, the Trump Administration is feeding into public concerns for national security in order to support ailing industries that should be eliminated by attrition in the marketplace.

This is an unacceptable intervention by the government to instill fear and force an agenda of dirty energy. Sign the petition to discourage the Department of Energy from intervening on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants and instead bolster our energy independence using clean, renewable energy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perry,

The bailout of dirty energy companies under the guise of national defense is despicable. Coal-fired power plants are rightfully being eliminated by attrition because they cannot compete with cheaper, cleaner power such as natural gas and renewables. The energy industry is not experiencing any of the alleged reliability issues used to justify this unprecedented intervention.

This is not an issue of energy security or national defense, but one of politics. America wants cleaner energy, not a federal bailout of coal-fired power plants undergoing decommissioning. Do not collapse under pressure from President Trump to promote an agenda of dirty energy.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Rahm Emanuael

End Illegal Importation of Hazardous Waste

Target: Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand

Goal: Crack down on illegal importation of electronic waste from other countries.

Since the Chinese ban on waste importation went into effect, the surrounding countries, especially Thailand, have been under siege by the illegal importation of hazardous electronic waste. Many companies are now taking advantage of China’s initiative to protect its environment by illegally accepting wastes that no longer have an outlet for disposal. This is putting an extreme strain on Thailand’s resources and threatens the health of the environment and Thailand’s citizens.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, comprises nearly any item with an electric cord or battery and contains metallic components that can be separated out and recycled. The waste processing required to do this also exposes workers to the hazardous components of e-waste, which include lead, cadmium, and mercury. Many workers in waste processing plants reportedly have minimal protections from inhaling significant amounts of toxic fumes. Prolonged exposure to these materials can cause cancer and other serious health conditions.

Thai police recently seized many tons of illegally imported e-waste from facilities that were not permitted to import foreign e-waste. Since this e-waste was allegedly imported using a loophole for secondhand appliances, acceptance and processing is essentially unregulated and threatens Thailand’s environment and citizens. This is especially true for employees of waste processors which handle this illicit material.

Thailand has laws in place to limit movement of e-waste across borders, but these are insufficient and at times unenforced. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has pledged increased inspections throughout the country to discover this hazardous material, but this only helps after the material has entered the country. Additional regulations and enforcement need to be in place to prevent its importation. Sign the petition for the prime minister to implement and enforce broader regulations to protect Thai citizens from exposure to hazardous e-waste.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Chan-ocha,

China’s ban on the importation of waste, particularly electronic waste, has opened the doors for increased illegal importation by waste processors in neighboring countries such as Thailand. This puts a strain not only on law enforcement officials to seek out and prosecute offenders, but on human health and the environment as well. The processing of electronic waste in order to recover the recyclable components also exposes the toxic components of electronic waste such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. These are known to cause serious health conditions, including cancer. It is critical to the protection of Thailand’s citizens that these materials be regulated to prevent adverse health impacts to workers and potential contamination if these toxins are leaked into the environment.

Ratification of the Basel Convention to prevent importation of hazardous materials has been insufficient in limiting these materials from entering the country. It is not enough to increase inspections in order to discover the material after it has been imported. Regulated processing of hazardous e-waste is critical to the protection of human health and the environment. Please, expand and enforce regulation of this dangerous material.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fairphone

Praise Chile for Nationwide Plastic Bag Ban

Target: Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile

Goal: Congratulate Chile on being the first nation in the Americas to institute a nationwide plastics ban, and ask that it encourage others to do the same.

Chile just became the first country in the Americas to institute a nationwide ban on plastic bags. Chile’s leadership is crucial in beginning a trend of similar legislation all over this part of the world.

Outspoken support of the plastic bag ban by the president resulted in a vote that was near unanimous in Chile’s Congress for passing the legislation, with wide public support as well. The ban was originally focused only on Patagonia, the southernmost tip of Chile, but was broadened to include the entire country. Within the next six months, all major retailers will no longer be allowed to use plastic bags. Smaller businesses will have two years to comply with the ban. Chile’s previous president had already banned the use of plastic bags in many coastal regions.

Plastics pollution, especially single-use plastics, plagues the ocean environment and marine life all over the world. Estimates by Sea Turtle Conservancy reveal that marine mammal deaths from plastics pollution total around 100 million per year. This nearly incomprehensible statistic is just one of the reasons for instituting plastic bag bans around the world, as has already been done by Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kenya, and other nations. Sign the petition to congratulate Chile on their nationwide plastic bag ban as an important step in protecting Chile’s coastline, as well as the ocean in general.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Piñera,

Your government’s ban on the use of plastic bags is monumental, both in its protection of the environmental and its importance in beginning this trend in the Americas. The ocean is of vital importance, as are its inhabitants. However, they are plagued by pollution all over the world.

Conservation organizations estimate marine mammal deaths in the millions per year due to plastic pollution, so eliminating Chile’s 3.4 billion plastic bags per year is commendable. I applaud your leadership in reducing the threat of plastics pollution to marine life and ecosystems. I hope you encourage your neighboring countries to do the same.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Andrew Latham

Prevent Sale and Expansion of Dangerous Pipeline

Target: Steve Kean, President and CEO of Kinder Morgan

Goal: Do not sell the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Canadian government, and stop any further expansion of the pipeline, which could have disastrous consequences.

In the face of protests from environmentalists and citizens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will purchase the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline to ensure its expansion. This expansion is opposed by activists and indigenous groups, and it increases dangers relating to spills and the upswing of petroleum tanker traffic. It will also cost the Canadian government billions of dollars.

The purchase is expected to close in August, when Canada will buy the pipeline from its current owner, Kinder Morgan, for $3.5 billion ($4.5 billion in Canadian dollars). The prime minister says that the expansion of the pipeline is “a vital project in the national interest” and that it will create and protect jobs in Alberta and British Columbia. However, as Premier John Horgan of British Columbia says, “Tens of thousands of B.C. jobs depend on pristine coastal and inland waters. Our environment generates millions in economic activity, from tourism to film and fisheries. It does not matter who owns the pipeline. What matters is defending our coast — and our lands, rivers and streams — from the impact of a dilbit [diluted bitumen] spill.” He says that B.C. will continue to search for legal ways of stopping the pipeline expansion; meanwhile, Alberta’s leaders are in favor of it, pitting the two provinces against each other.

In addition to the costs of purchasing and nationalizing this immense energy enterprise, the Canadian government is also expected to spend billions more on the completion of the expansion itself. The sale is still subject to the discretion of Kinder Morgan and its shareholders. The expansion of this pipeline is hazardous to the environment and to the well-being of Canadian citizens and their livelihoods. Sign below to demand that Kinder Morgan stop the sale of the pipeline and its subsequent expansion.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kean,

As many environmental advocates—as well as indigenous groups and concerned citizens—have argued, the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is dangerous and must be stopped. The political, economic, and environmental hazards it poses are too costly and must not be ignored.

Your company has the opportunity to make an important, positive impact on the future of our continent. The expansion of this pipeline could cost many people their jobs, divides two Canadian provinces, and will cost their governments billions. Perhaps the biggest threat it poses is to the environment, where the risk of an oil spill could be catastrophic. As Premier John Horgan said, “It does not matter who owns the pipeline. What matters is defending our coast — and our lands, rivers and streams — from the impact of a dilbit [diluted bitumen] spill.” This is true not only of British Columbia, but of our earth as a whole. I urge you not to sell the pipeline, and to protect our future: help ensure that an expansion does not take place.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: William Chen