Things are very very bad on the environmental front. Trump issued his executive orders intending to do away with much of Obama’s climate legacy. And the sociopath Scott Pruitt is already going about gutting the EPA with great abandon — and questionable legality. Read this heartbreaking article about the good professionals trying to do their jobs at the EPA now:
To see the effects of climate change, Cox invited Pruitt to “visit the Pacific Northwest and see where the streams are too warm for our salmon to survive in the summer; visit the oyster farmers in Puget Sound whose stocks are being altered from the oceans becoming more acidic; talk to the ski area operators who are seeing less snowpack and worrying about their future; and talk to the farmers in Eastern Washington who are struggling to have enough water to grow their crops and water their cattle. The changes I am referencing are not impacts projected for the future, but are happening now.”
Trump’s proposed EPA budget is the vehicle for his science-doubting policies.
His 31 percent budget decrease would be the largest among agencies not eliminated. It would result in layoffs for 25 percent of the staff and cuts to 50 EPA programs, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Lost would be more than half the positions in the division testing automaker fuel efficiency claims.
What insane, reckless greed would cause us to destroy an extraordinarily successful agency, one who counts its successes in lives saved and improved, and in billions and trillions of dollars saved? Which saves kids from lead poisoning and asthma, and would save them a livable planet? Because it advocates for the public good versus narrow, greedy interests all the time. For these folks, it is their job. Of course, almost by definition, they are under threat.
Let’s not sugar-coat it: We are up against the wall. But we are not helpless. There are many, many levers of influence, and if one doesn’t go our way, we grab another.
Note that it will take years to unwind the Clean Power Plan. It is, after all, the implementation of law — one confirmed by Massachusetts vs. EPA, which turns 10 years old today! And even more than federal action, we can affect the actions of states and municipalities, many of which are continuing to lead the way on reducing emissions. Trump may want to bring back coal, but he can’t make us buy it.
What can we do? Good gravy, what can’t we do? Trump has given us all a middle finger — but there are ways to give it right back.
- Call your State Rep and Senator and tell them to support S.1849, a bill requiring that MA use 100% renewable energy by 2050. Happy that my rep Sean Garballey and Sen. Ken Donnelly are among the sponsors. You know the number, 617-722-2000 is the State House switchboard. Go do it!
- And while you’re on the phone, mention that they should revisit last year’s energy bill and add a 2% annual increase in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. That adds up!
- Fight gas pipelines at home. A Spectra pipeline just ruptured in Rhode Island; given the dangers, should we continue to build capacity? The communities through which this pipeline would be routed are up in arms — watch for this as a potential sleeper issue vs. Baker in 2018.
- Fight for the T: It’s an engine of economic growth, economic justice, and lowering emissions.
- See ProgressiveMass’s Infrastructure/Environment agenda for specific bills. (Rest of it is good too!)
- Hug an environmental lawyer; and then fund one. These things are going to be tied up in court for a while. Remember that the Clean Power Plan is an implementation of law; the EPA is required to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.
- Sen. Brian Schatz has called Pruitt’s hollowing out of the EPA “a national scandal” and voiced doubt via Twitter that his actions are legal. Again, that’s what lawyers are for.
- Join an Indivisible group and show up to your reps’ town hall meetings during the recess. We need to protect the EPA in the same way — and for many of the same reasons — that we protect our health care. Make Republicans fear an anti-EPA budget vote, for instance.
- Come to the People’s Climate Mobilization 4/29, either in DC (grab a bus ticket here) or in Boston. Be a drop in the wave.
- Or if you prefer, go to the March for Science 4/22, an event with considerable overlap of interest with the Climate march. In either of these events, there will be plenty of folks with clipboards or apps trying to get people to dig even deeper.
I am uncomfortable as an enviro lifestyle-monger — all have fallen short of the glory, after all — but surely there are ways we can change behavior to reduce demand for destructive things. You are not the only one: People make conscientious choices all the time. And you don’t have to convert your whole lifestyle all at once: Make one change at a time. Like those ads on the Sox radio broadcasts … “It all starts with just one thing.” Whatever your next lifestyle tweak you could make … now would be a great time to do it.
- Beef. It’s horrible for you, and the planet. Eat less. Or none. Remember, Trump likes steak, well-done with ketchup. Don’t be like Trump, what are you, nuts? Culinarily it’s overrated anyway.
- Bike, walk, or T it. It’s healthier too – a little more walking reduces your risk of heart disease. It’s the Paleo commute.
- If you do have to drive, get a verrrry efficient car. The hybrids, even while they have a somewhat higher initial sticker price, have comparable or lower total costs of ownership than other cars. You will be much more of a stranger to the gas station attendant. Yes it matters — still one of the biggest ways you can cut down emissions.
- Put on those solar panels — the tax credit is still there. Get the efficiency retrofit.
I compare the energy in the climate/enviro movement to the health care mobilization, and I’m often a little disappointed that it doesn’t come up with the same urgency. We seem to have forgotten what it was like without environmental protection. My aspiration is that climate and environmental concerns may burrow deep into the culture — so that it’s ubiquitous, pervasive, and simply shapes the decisions we make every day. In the long term that will defeat Trump and Pruitt, regardless of what rottenness they have in store now.