What’s happening in Washington

The president put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued that same agency 14 times to weaken clean air, clean water and other environmental protections.

He signed an executive order to put the Keystone XL pipeline on a fast track to construction, another order designed to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for more than 28,000 miles of Virginia's streams, and a third order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, effectively allowing power plants to emit more pollution and adding more soot to the air we breathe and more climate-destabilizing carbon pollution to the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed legislation abolishing new stream water protections from coal mining in Appalachia, voted to make it easier to sell off public lands, and introduced bills to abolish the EPA.

After talking during the campaign about “abolishing” the EPA himself or “leaving just a little bit,” the president proposed a budget that would slash EPA funding by 31 percent. These cuts would virtually eliminate funding for proven programs needed to clean up the nation’s great waterways, from San Francisco Bay to Puget Sound; decimate environmental research and science programs; and effectively take the nation’s environmental cops off the polluter beat.

A “little bit” of environmental protection is not nearly enough—not when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people and places we love. 

Most Americans want more, not fewer, protections for the people and places we love

These moves to dismantle our environmental protections violate core values shared by millions of Americans.

The vast majority of us believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a company dumps pollution into our air or water. The future of our children and life on our planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies. The idea that we’ve found some places so special, some would even say sacred, that we’ve declared them off-limits to development is one of our proudest achievements.

But our environmental values are meaningless if we don’t act on them, and stand up and defend them when they’re under attack— especially given the power of old but entrenched industries that are wed to a status quo that no longer serves our needs, and a worldview that puts their short-term economic interests above the health of the American people and the environment we share.

Our path forward

Our best chance of stopping these attacks will come in the U.S. Senate, where 41 votes will be enough to block most legislation.

Environment Virginia, together with our nationwide network of state affiliates, is urging our senators to stand up and protect our health and the places we love.

And if enough of us speak up, we can win.

Recently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah filed a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. Several days later he withdrew the bill in the face of overwhelming public opposition, including 1,000 people in Montana turning out to a pro-public lands rally and this comment from an National Rifle Association member on Chaffetz’s Facebook page: “Rescind H.R. 621 the sale of public lands! It’s not your land to sell. It’s the people’s land. Many people use it for many purposes.” Hear and respect our voice.”

We can win, but only if we bring together people from all walks of life, from both sides of the political divide, and unite in action to defend the places we love.

Reckless proposals to roll back clean air, clean water and other environmental protections keep coming every week. We need to build support now to protect our health and environment.

Now, it's up to us

The leaders and activists of the past saw the result of decades of unchecked pollution in our smog-covered skylines and our toxic rivers. They worked against all odds and, ultimately, their values won the day. Our environmental forbears organized the first Earth Day, supported and passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the torch passes to us.

The children we know and love today can live cleaner, healthier lives in a greener world, but only if we can keep our environmental protections in place and make them stronger. It’s up to us.

Issue updates

Report | Environment Virginia

The Best of America Under Threat from Underfunding

America’s national parks are the nation’s most treasured places- where visitors can experience the best of America’s great outdoors, wildlife, history and culture. 

National parks are becoming increasingly popular.  In 2009, overall visitorship was up by 4%, the highest level in nearly a decade.23 Two-thirds of national parks, including parks in nearly every state, saw an increase in visitors in 2009.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Virginia

Global Warming and Extreme Weather

Patterns of extreme weather are changing in the United States, and climate science predicts that further changes are in store. Extreme weather events lead to billions of dollars in economic damage and loss of life each year. Scientists project that global warming could affect the frequency, timing, location and severity of many types of extreme weather events in the decades to come.

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News Release | Environment Virginia

Vice President Biden Announces Energy Efficiency 'Retro-fit Rampup" Rewards

Richmond, VA – Today, Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new ‘Retrofit Ramp-Up’ program that will give 25 communities, including Charlottesville, VA grants for innovative retrofit projects.  The projects will receive a combined $452 million and it is estimated they will create 30,000 jobs over the next few years, while saving consumers $100 million per year and leveraging $2.8 billion in other investment.  Charlottesville’s LEAP program will receive a portion of the $20 million granted to the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance through the program.  Environment Virginia applauded the Administration’s action as another major victory from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s $80 billion in clean energy investment.

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News Release | Environment Virginia

Virginia Waterways Cleanup and Consumer Choice Act Falls in House of Delegates

Richmond – Americans use more than 100 billion plastic and paper bags every year, but we recycle less than 5 percent of those bags. Many of these bags end up in landfills, and even worse millions end up floating around our waterways clogging the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers, lakes and streams that feed into it. This morning, a three member subcommittee of the House of Delegates voted against a bill that would have taken steps to reduce waste from these bags in the Commonwealth.

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News Release | Environment Virginia

More Than 14,000 Virginians Call on EPA to Clean up the Bay

Today marks the end of a public comment period on the federal government’s recent proposals to restore the Chesapeake Bay. The comment period follows the release of nine reports authored by federal agencies that served as a “draft strategy” for bay cleanup.  In response, more than 40,000 residents of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania submitted comments calling for bold federal action to restore the bay.

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