By Ramona du Houx
Environment Maine and Environment America announced a $7.5 million public education campaign in June, to convince a majority of U.S. senators to stand up for a cleaner, healthier future, and oppose a return to a dirtier, more dangerous past.
"Here in Maine, the campaign is running out of our campaign office in Portland. We’ll be talking to 23,651 people about threats to Maine’s beloved environment. Across the country with 30+ campaign offices in 22 states and the District of Columbia, the summer-long effort will educate over 1 million Americans face-to-face, over the phone, and online about the need for our members of Congress to stand up for our core environmental and health protections.
“Since the first Earth Day nearly 50 years ago, our air has gotten cleaner, our waterways have become less polluted, and more of our treasured landscapes have been protected. But we're still not close to having the clean and healthy environment we need or deserve and we need to keep moving forward, not backward," said Julia Gesensway, Campaign Organizer of Environment Maine.
Research from The Frontier Group and the Environment America Research & Policy Center, as of 2015, reveals that Americans in nearly every state still breathe polluted air. Too many beautiful and ecologically and culturally sensitive areas are threatened by drilling, mining or other destructive activities, while too many waterways are polluted.
Unfortunately, President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement along with his many proposals that weaken existing climate and clean air safeguards, fail to solve our environmental problems and jeopardize the progress we've already made to reduce pollution.
So far this session Congress, with Republican's in the majority, has failed to champion clean air and clean water. While Rep. Chellie Pingree received a perfect scorecard of 100 percent, Rep. Bruce Poliquin received a score of only 9 percent.
"To give our families and future generations a great chance at a healthy and safe environment, we need to stop environmental rollbacks and move quickly and boldly to ensure clean air and water and a livable planet. We need a funded and functioning EPA and we need to strengthen--not weaken--our core environmental, conservation and public health protections," noted Gesensway.
Environment America's outreach campaign, reaching from Maine to California, is calling on Congress to be part of a Green Line of Defense, voting to stop any rollbacks of current law and instead push the nation towards 100 percent renewable energy, fully protected waterways, and increased federal protection of sensitive lands.
In addition, the organization’s outreach teams will collect hundreds of thousands of petitions, help generate 10,000 calls to senators, and organize visibility events encouraging each congressional delegation to take strong environmental action.
Gesensway added, "The science has never been clearer, there's never been as much mobilized public support as there is today for a clean and healthy environment, and the means for achieving it are well within our reach. I'm confident our campaign will help galvanize the public, and make sure people's voices are heard loud and clear. Together, I know we'll find the way to protect the environmental values we share and the places we love. Our families and our future depend on it.”