Tag Archives: politics

800,000 Voices for Clean Air

Three years ago, I remember having a “light bulb moment.”  I was sitting in my environmental law class, the first class in my environmental education program (my second MS).  I was taking notes in black pen on my repurposed notebook, learning about how a bill becomes a law and listening to my professor talk about the comment period.

I remember thinking that I had never learned this before.  I’m sure at some point in my education I was supposed to learn it, but to be honest I was much more interested in things like studying the cartilaginous skeleton of sharks, adding insect species to my entomology collection, tracing the evolution of placental viviparity, and the genetics of Przewalski’s horse.  I kid you not, those were my passions and college.  I didn’t see how US law was connected to the natural world.  But then suddenly, years later, I got it.

I could do all I want on my own to protect everything I love about the natural world.  I could stop dying my hair, make my own cleaners and read every environmental book since Silent Spring, but that wasn’t enough.  If I wanted to affect real change on a large-scale, I had to get politically active and advocate for legally protecting the environment.  I had to speak up and make sure others were listening.

Now, I am so proud to play a role in the environmental movement at the political level.  I’m thrilled to be one of over 800,000 people who made their voices heard and contacted the EPA about the new Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.  I hope that my writing for the Moms Clean Air Force encouraged even a small fraction of those 800,000 people to speak up for the health of our atmosphere and the air that our children breathe.  Thank you to everyone who contacted the EPA, and congratulations on taking a stand on protecting our environment. 

The EPA is going to consider all the comments and release the final Mercury and Air Toxics Rule by November 16.  This doesn’t, however, mean that our work is done.  It’s only the beginning of the road to clean air.

I was thinking about that class in environmental law today, and how I should email my professor to thank her for starting me down this path.  As a teacher myself, I know how much she’ll appreciate hearing from me.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. Thank you!

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Capping our Future?

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a new campain: “Don’t Cap our Future.”  In opposition to a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, the AFBF is encouraging members to sign a cap across the bill and deliver it to their Congressman

The AFBF is concerned that a cap-and-trade system will lead to higher fuel, energy and fertlizer costs, and also the conversion of farmland to woodland to sequester carbon.  This translates into loss of farms, increase in food costs, and a decrease in the productivity of farms.  According to the AFBF:

Already, the economic situation in some sectors of agriculture is dire… For many, sheer determination is what keeps them in business.  Those who are persevering are doing so with a brighter future in mind.  They are also driven by the goal of being able to pass the farm or ranch on to the next generation when they retire or perhaps farming with their children as they grow into adulthood.

I personally am not a huge fan of cap-and-trade, since I think it’s a system that allows polluters to continue on polluting while paying for credits or often choosing to pay the fines for going over their limit since that’s less expensive than actually reducing their emissions.  One of the amazing concepts that I took away from my environmental law course was that it’s all about the money: businesses will do what’s right for them financially, not what’s right for the environment, and they’re able to continue polluting because a cap-and-trade system allows it, as long as they pay a fine or buy credits. 

However, I think that action is important, and I think cap-and-trade is better than nothing.  The real problem here, from my point of view, is that family farmers are not the big time polluters.  We know that industrial agribusiness is where the majority of the pollution takes place, but they’ve got the money to pay the lobbyists and lawyers, buy credits, and pay fines, while all farmers deal with the increase in fuel, energy and fertilizer prices.  Who will be hit harder by the increase in costs, agribusiness or small, family farmers? And who will lose their farms?

I’m categorically opposed to legislation that puts an unfair burden on family farms.  It’s a deeply emotional issue for me, since I think about MY family and OUR farm, and it breaks my heart to see families lose their farms.  However, I think that the American Farm Bureau Federation needs to take steps to work with legislators to reduce the unfair burden on small family farms, while still taking strides to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. 

For now, I’m taking a wait and see approach.  I won’t be signing and delivering a cap, but I also won’t be asking my legislators to support this bill.  What I will do is continue to support my local family farms.

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Politics, Law and The Environment

My take-home final and my final presentation were due tonight for my “Political and Legal Perspectives in Environmental Education” class.  I signed up for the course because I felt like I needed a better background in environmental law.  I have learned quite a bit, from the evolution and intent of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to political issues involving trading carbon credits and environmental court battles.  Learning about the legal system and federal environmental laws was what I was looking for, but I got so much more than I expected.

We were required to attend a local meeting about an environmental issue and write a paper about it.  We were also required to do a final project about local environmental issues and their effects on the local elections.  The topic I chose for my presentation was preservation of open space.  In doing the research, I spoke to my local officials and did research on the history of open space in my own town.  I really got to know the politicians’ views on the environment, and I felt that I was truly an educated voter in this election.  In case you’re interested in the preservation of open space in my town, I’ve uploaded my final-project.  Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you don’t take a look!

I now realize the importance of being involved in politics.  I’ve never been interested in politics much before, but I now see that if I care about the environment, I can’t not be involved.  I need to voice my opinions to my representives and educate myself about their viewpoints.  I know that becoming more active in my own town’s politics will enable me to help make the changes I want to see, and preserve what needs to be preserved.  I think that most of the people in the class with me feel the same way now.

I made sure to tell my professor how much I have enjoyed her course, because as a teacher, I know how nice that is to hear.

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