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 30,000 miles of Wisconsin’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planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies.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.

Wisconsin Environment, 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

News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Clean Energy Jobs Act Can Ramp Up Solar Power

MILWAUKEE -- Today at the Green Energy Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Environment will release a new report outlining a vision for using the sun to meet 10 percent of the United States’ total energy needs by 2030. The report is the first in a two-part series the group is releasing to build support for state and federal policies to promote solar energy.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Congressman Petri Supports Polluters over Health of Children

Madison – More than 85,000 residents in and around Representative Petri's district with asthma, including over 19,000 children, are at increased risk of adverse health consequences if he is successful in preventing the US EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards, according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council and released by Wisconsin Environment . Representative Petri has received more than $165,000 from polluters, many of which have made stopping the EPA a high priority.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Report: The Clean Air Act’s Economic Benefits Outweigh Costs by 30 to 1

Madison—Days after the U.S. House passed a funding bill that eviscerates clean air protections in Wisconsin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report today that highlights the economic and health benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

New Report: Wisconsin Remains at risk from Mercury Pollution

Madison, Wisconsin – The Columbia Energy Center power plant in Pardeeville emits 627 pounds of mercury every year [SEE Chart 1 in attached document]—the most in Wisconsin—according to the new Wisconsin Environment report, Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Wisconsin Environment Responds to President’s State of the Union Address

MADISON: Last night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. Wisconsin Environment's Clean Energy Associate Scott Thompson issued the following statement in response:

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