April 21, 2023
Earth Day is an annual marker of the progress humanity has made as stewards of our planet. It’s a celebration of the work accomplished and the work that must happen to protect the earth we all love, now and for future generations.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), an organization of thousands of elected officials dedicated to solving the climate crisis, honors the father of Earth Day — Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He proved that environmental legislative proposals with the backing of a wide coalition of engaged citizens become laws more frequently. After a major oil spill off the coast of California and the way that people came together to clean it up, he decided to leverage the power and passion of student anti-Vietnam war protesters to raise awareness for the environment. This made lawmakers aware they couldn’t ignore environmental issues. Soon, Earth Day spread from college campuses with multiple organizations and citizens from all backgrounds taking part, and has become a worldwide day of action.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is transformative, putting the US on the road to a clean energy future with nearly $370 billion for various tax credits and measures that have already begun stimulating the adoption of clean energy technologies. The IRA is historic in its scope marking America’s largest city ever investment in climate, justice, clean energy, and jobs. It is projected to cut climate pollution by an estimated 40 percent by 2030. But in order to slash climate pollution in half by the end of the decade — which scientists say is needed and President Biden committed to — an additional 10 percent reduction by 2030 needs to be achieved. The good news is it is possible.
“Like Sen. Nelson, President Biden sees the urgency of protecting our planet for all of humanity. Through President Biden’s leadership, America has made the largest investment in climate action and clean energy ever. Americans already are starting to reap the benefits. While protecting our health from dangerous and deadly pollution and climate impacts, President Biden’s affordable clean energy plan is also spurring new manufacturing, providing good-paying jobs, and accelerating the transition to a clean economy,” said Christian Brock, CEO Elected Officials to Protect America, US Air Force Veteran. “While Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) is thankful for the investments the president has already secured to address the climate crisis, will call on the Biden administration to carry out its responsibilities under our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act. By advancing approximately 20 protections across federal agencies, climate pollution could be cut in half by 2030, vital public health and environmental justice goals would advance and the transition to clean energy with new economic opportunity would accelerate.”
Sen. Nelson’s Earth Day led to the founding of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and catapulted an “Environmental Decade” of legislative reforms. The Clean Water Act, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Federal Pesticides Act, the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Education Act, the National Hiking Trails and the National Scenic Trails Acts, and the establishment of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. These laws have saved millions of people from disease and death while protecting countless wild species from extinction. Now it is time to strengthen many of them to meet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission reduction goals.
“The IRA’s critical investments are helping to mitigate the climate crisis with critical resources allocated for frontline communities. Yet, even with this unprecedented investment in our security, health, and prosperity, we still have a way to go to meet the 50 percent emission reduction goal by 2030 that IPCC scientists, and the president have set – or the world will suffer mass migrations and conflicts caused by the lack of water, food, and deadly weather,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America, and Co-Founder. “Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) is a proud participant in the Solutions for Pollution coalition, representing 200 groups, that are focused on solutions to achieve that additional 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas by 2030. Ranging from carbon pollution standards to soot air quality standards, power plant wastewater standards, and cross-state air pollution standards, these administrative protections will advance vital public health and environmental justice goals and meet the 2030 IPCC deadline. Let’s strengthen these standards in the agencies that Sen. Nelson helped put in place for this Earth Day.”
By implementing strong new federal standards on climate pollution and other toxic pollution the IPCC goal will be met by the US.
“Exposure to soot is linked to chronic conditions, including asthma, heart disease, COPD, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, low birth weight, greater risk of preterm birth, and higher rates of infant mortality and death. This pollution affects more than 20 million Americans every year, according to the American Lung Association, and it disproportionately impacts historically underserved communities like those I represent. It’s time we bring environmental justice to these communities,” said Howard Watts, Nevada Assemblyman, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council. “Soot standards, carbon pollution standards, power plant wastewater standards, and cross-state air pollution standards, all need to be strengthened. President Biden can meet his commitment to a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 with ensuring these ambitious standards happen. We have to cut carbon pollution, protect our children and families, and remove toxins from our air and water now.”
“I have three schools in my district that run along the freeway. Health hazards from fossil fuel exhaust fumes are very real to the thousands of kids who attend those schools. The IRA gives consumers a game changing tax credit to buy any electric vehicle or fuel cell vehicle, new or used, and a tax credit for up to $7,500 if those vehicles are made in America. The also has rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, to weatherize homes, and tax credits for heat pumps and rooftop solar. It’s a major step to energy independence,” said Debbie Sariñana, New Mexico State Representative Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council Chair, former school teacher. “The IRA has the power to make alternative energies the way of the future and diminish our dependency on fossil fuels that damage our health, cause climate change and world instability. This is a national security issue. Strong new federal standards on climate pollution and other toxic pollution can and should be implemented in order to meet the goal of a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030. The Biden administration has the power within its grasp to create a clean energy future, so all our children will prosper.”
“Senator Gaylord Nelson inspired and reminded us how to work with concerned citizens and lawmakers from across the aisle, as was intended by our Nation’s founders. His leadership creating Earth Day and heralding the creation of environmental agencies is a legacy we must live up to and can. With the creation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) we are on the way to cutting emissions by 40 percent. Now we must finish the job,” said Paul Evans, Oregon State Representative, Air Force veteran, Co-Chair National Leadership Council. “If we strengthen approximately 20 protections across federal agencies on climate pollution, we could cut climate pollution in half by 2030. Carbon pollution standards, soot air quality standards, power plant wastewater standards, and cross-state air pollution standards, will advance vital public health and environmental justice goals and meet the 2030 IPCC deadline.”
Sen. Nelson helped President Kennedy undertake a national tour for conservation and the environment. With President Johnson, he advanced Civil Rights legislation and waged the War on Poverty. Nelson saw these battles as part and parcel of his environmental agenda.
“I’m encouraged by the $60 billion for environmental injustice set aside in the IRA for disadvantaged communities, but with devastating results of the climate emergency which we are living in happening daily we need to ensure we meet the IPCC goal of a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. This is a national security threat,” said Mayor Derrick R Wood, Mayor Town of Dumfries, VA, Marine Veteran. “The Biden administration knows we the people want environmental justice and is implementing the provisions in the IRA. Now they can finish the job and strengthen federal standards on environmental toxins from soot to sewage and so much more, and finish the job.”
“Senator Gaylord Nelson’s environmental legacy should continue to inspire us to act to protect our state and country’s natural resources. As the founder of Earth Day, Senator Nelson was concerned with how to ‘get the nation to wake up and pay attention to the most important challenge the human species faces on the planet,’” said Katrina Shankland, Wisconsin State Representative & EOPA Leadership Council member. “With the IPCC report stating that there is still time to stop extreme climate change, let us come together as 20 million Americans did on the first Earth Day in 1970 and resolve to act on climate. We must start by calling on the Biden administration to implement strong new federal standards on climate pollution and other toxic pollution.”
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.