Today, Scott Pruitt was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Given his history opposing the EPA, it is likely he will want to gut existing regulations and squelch the agency’s influence. His confirmation is not good news for the planet and every living creature (including humans) inhabiting it. There are ways we can fight #PollutingPruitt and those who favor business over environment. Let me share a few things you can do to make sure your community is immune to changes at the Federal level.
A little background, in my day job, I am a Sustainability Manager. In that role, I work closely with federal, state, and local environmental regulations. These suggested actions are based on the knowledge I’ve gained working in this field.
Action 1: Get involved in your municipality’s environmental policy making. Attend City Council meetings, and be informed and vocal. First, it is important to understand that environmental policy is dictated by state and municipal governments as well as the EPA. In fact, it could be argued that state and local municipalities are even more powerful in shaping local environmental policy than the Feds are. Here is a real life example of how powerful state and local governments are in creating environmental policy.
Have you ever wondered why California has more stringent environmental regulations than other states? It’s because the state government and the local municipalities decided that protecting the environment and public health of its citizens were priorities. When the smog in L.A. was beyond healthy limits, they created the strictest air pollution policies in the country. The new regulations meant that if a car manufacturer wanted to sell in the California market, they had to build cars to conform to the California emission standard. California law forced the automobile industry to change its manufacturing practices to be more sustainable. (Notice how I didn’t mention the EPA once in this example.)
Action 2: Vote With Your Dollars The silver lining in all of this EPA mess is that consumers have a lot power here. Outside of the US, climate change is an accepted scientific fact. Therefore, business and industry across the globe have and are continuing to adapt to a market that values environmental security. Corporate sustainability and social responsibility are not a trend, they are the global expectation now regardless of what the American government decides to do next. Even more importantly, business has learned that sustainability is even more profitable than the old way of operating. Additionally, consumers demand that the companies they support be sustainable, and be transparent about their sustainability efforts. Just look at Toms or Warby Parker, for example.
You can help influence business sustainability and corporate social responsibility by being a conscious consumer. Do a little homework on the brands you support and decide if they reflect your values. If not, chuck them in favor of companies that do and start purchasing those products. Tell your old companies why you’re ditching them, and let your new choices know why you switched over. Your almighty dollar carries more weight than anyone working for the government does.
Action 3: Tell Your Member of Congress to support our commitment to the Paris Agreement As a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a massive role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change. We have already committed to our allies around the world that we would adhere to the Paris Agreement goals. Be vigilant in telling your Member of Congress that we need to keep our promises. Call them daily about this issue. When they hold a town hall, go and ask them to commit to protecting the Paris Agreement. The lives of our children and grandchildren are literally at stake.
I hope these three actions give you a little encouragement and remind you that you do have power to influence environmental policy. I would argue that at this point, we, the people, are the planet’s best chance at enforcing the changes we must make before it’s too late.