Earth Day 2018 – Mr. Secretary, Go Green

The time of fossil fuels is over.

This Earth Day I propose enjoying some outdoor fun and writing a letter to a government official about an environmental issue that is important to you.

My Earth Day plans include participating in a field trip with the California Native Plant Society and writing a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, which I already did (see below).

Earth Day 1970

In 1969, Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator representing his home state of Wisconsin. He had long been concerned about the environmental deterioration occurring in the United States because private companies were being allowed to exploit public resources polluting and degrading air, water, and land with impunity. He had been trying to get the American public to make a national issue out of the environment with little success.

Reading an article about the anti-Vietnam War teach-ins taking place at colleges across the country gave him an idea. Nelson decided to try the same method to start a grassroots environmental movement. He formed a nonprofit organization and asked a Harvard graduate student named Denis Hayes to organize the first Environmental Teach-In.

Protesters Carrying Earth Day Posters April 22, 1970 - Photo Credit: Doug Draper
Protesters Carrying Earth Day Posters April 22, 1970 – Photo Credit: Doug Draper

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets demanding that the government take action to clean up the environment and stop industries from using the air, water, and land as free places to dump toxic waste.

Pressured by the public, Congress passed far-reaching clean air and clean water legislation that has been protecting Americans for almost 50 years.

Earth Day 2018

Now, in 2018, Americans are facing a new assault on the environment and the laws that Congress put in place to protect us from being taken advantage of and poisoned by private industries and public agencies.

I believe that I have a responsibility to speak up. You can choose to do so, too. We can tell our supposedly democratic government founded to serve “We the People,” that we strongly oppose the dismantling of environmental protections and regulations and the destruction of our public lands. We can stand up and say it is not acceptable that our own government is endangering and harming the people we love.

Writing a letter is one way you can exercise your right to Freedom of Speech.

Below is my letter to Secretary Zinke regarding the unprecedented and dangerous expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration and development he is overseeing as the Secretary of the Interior. I will add any response I receive to the end of this post.

BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Drilling Platform on Fire in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010
BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Drilling Platform on Fire in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 – Photographer Unknown

If you are interested in learning more about the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program that I discuss in my letter, you will find links in the resources section below.

I hope you will join me in writing a letter yourself.

April 12, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Development

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Overseeing a department with 70,000 employees who manage one-fifth of the land in the United States, 35,000 miles of coastline, and 1.7 billion acres of the outer continental shelf is a heavy responsibility. You have the power to affect the wellbeing of over 327,000,000 Americans now and in the future.

I am writing to you as a mother, an American citizen, and a resident of the California Central Coast to express my strong opposition to the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (DPP).

The United States needs to get off fossil fuels not embark upon an unprecedented expansion of oil and natural gas exploration and production along almost the entire coastline of the country.

As the DPP states, outer continental shelf oil and gas development is a long-term endeavor fraught with technical issues and environmental risks. It mentions but does not address global warming or catastrophic oil spills. “Production from exploration and development in newly available OCS areas will likely not occur for a decade or more, and then will continue for another 30 to 40 years or longer” (p. 1).

Offshore oil and gas operations require substantial infrastructure both offshore and onshore including drilling platforms, pipelines, transfer stations, storage tanks, and processing facilities. Once fossil fuel companies invest billions of dollars into building this infrastructure they will likely continue producing oil and gas for decades.

Locking the United States into 50 years of expanded oil and gas production will not generate energy security or economic vitality for the American people. Global warming is not some distant amorphous threat it is already happening. The continued burning of fossil fuels is endangering all Americans and people all over the world.

To make America great again, we need to stop looking back and move forward. The time of fossil fuels is over. Clean renewable energy is the future that we need to invest in, right now. I urge you to use your authority to curtail fossil fuel development and encourage deployment of clean renewable energy on public lands (submerged or not).

In 20 years, what do you want to say to your children and grandchildren? “I am proud I was instrumental in opening up the entire United States coastline to oil and gas exploration.” or “I am proud that I did everything in my power to move the country towards clean renewable energy to keep Earth habitable for you and your children.”

Sincerely,

Linda Anne Poppenheimer

Featured Image at Top: Three Wind Turbines at Sunset off the Irish Coast – Photo Credit Shutterstock/Peter Cripps

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Earth Day 2017 – Mr. President, Go Green

Veteran Co-Owned Solar Company Based in San Diego, CA - Photo Semper Solaris
Veteran Co-Owned Solar Company Based in San Diego, CA – Photo Semper Solaris

For Earth Day this year, coming up on April 22, 2017, write a letter to President Trump letting him know a concern of yours, environmental or otherwise.

Prior to the first Earth Day in 1970, smog was so thick in some cities you could not see across the street, water pollution was so bad that rivers caught on fire, and pesticides were poisoning not only pests but people and wildlife, too. Richard Nixon was the President of the United States.

On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans took to the streets demanding that the Federal Government take action to protect the environment and public health. The modern environmental movement gained traction and people from all walks of life supported environmental legislation. During the 1970’s, the Environmental Protection Agency was founded and Congress passed important environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Since 1970, Earth Day as spread around the world encouraging people everywhere to take action to protect Mother Earth, the place we all call home.

A few years ago, I began a tradition of writing to the President of the United States for Earth Day (I write on other days, too). This year, I wrote the letter below to President Trump about renewable energy.

April 17, 2017

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: National Security and Renewable Energy

Dear President Trump,

While reading your 2018 budget proposal America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, a sentence in your message to Congress on page 7 resonated with me.

“A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority—because without safety, there can be no prosperity.”

Safety from terrorist attacks is just one way to help Americans feel safe. We also need clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, healthy food to eat, a roof over our heads, and a habitable planet to live on.

As an American citizen, I respectfully urge you to support ramping up renewable energy to promote safety and prosperity for all Americans.

The Pentagon has stated that climate change is a major threat to national security and the DOD has embraced renewable energy to improve systems efficiency, troop safety, and mission effectiveness.

Expanding renewable energy to power American homes, businesses and transportation would enhance our national security and provide jobs. The U.S. Energy and Employment Report and the Annual Energy Outlook 2017 with projections to 2050 provide compelling information about how renewable energy and energy efficiency is already contributing to your make America great again strategy.

Solar – 374,000 Americans are working full or part-time in the solar industry, a workforce increase of 25% in 2016. American veterans hold 9% of the 260,077 full-time solar jobs.

Wind – 102,000 Americans are working in the wind industry, a workforce increase of 32% in 2016.

Energy Efficiency – 2.2 million Americans are working on energy efficient products and services related to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program (which you propose eliminating). Of those jobs, 290,000 are manufacturing jobs.

Mr. President, you have considerable business experience and acumen, which is why many Americans voted for you, so I urge you to put that knowledge to work in supporting renewable energy.

My spouse and I are trying to do our part. When we installed solar panels on our roof, we specifically chose a manufacturer producing panels in the U.S. and paid 9% extra to support American workers.

Let us work together to keep Earth habitable for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

Sincerely,

Linda Poppenheimer

The Unlikely Environmentalist at greengroundswell.com

For Earth Day 2017, please write a letter to President Trump and join millions of Americans and me for the March for Science on April 22. If you cannot make it on the 22nd, then consider participating in the People’s Climate Movement March on April 29.

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