Dear Sir or Madam:
It is not unusual that we live in an unusual period of time. History is filled with unusual periods of time, when men and women have faced difficult choices about complex issues. Sometimes we have made good choices that have led to better times – and sometimes we have not. We need to think long and hard about the choices that we make in our current difficult period of time.
Because of the vital importance to my children and grandchildren, I have decided to concentrate on one of our world’s most severe problems: our changing environment. Many other issues are of equal or greater importance, but changes in our environment have a long-term and irreversible impact upon all of mankind.
In the 1960s, Americans were awakened by the free press to the indiscriminate use of pesticides, to fouled beaches as a result of failed offshore oil rigs, to the choking of marine life and the bursting into flames of our rivers as a result of chemical contaminants, and to deteriorating urban air quality and to urban water supplies contaminated with dangerous impurities from industry. Astronauts photographed the Earth from space, heightening our awareness that the Earth’s resources are finite. As a result, the Environmental Decade began during the Nixon Administration with President Nixon’s signing of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on January 1, 1970. Since that time, every American President and every American Congress has realized the vital importance of preserving our environment – UNTIL NOW.
What’s happened since January of 2017?
1. Rollback of fuel efficiency standards
2. Rollback of requirements on oil and gas companies to monitor and mitigate releases of methane from wells and other operations
3. Rollback of the plan to curtail coal emissions of carbon dioxide and methane that contribute to climate change.
4. Rollback of the policy to increase vehicle mileage standards for cars made over the next decade
5. Rollback of the 1970 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) policy of threatened species receive the full protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
6. Rollback of the decree that the accidental killing of birds, such as eagles colliding with wind turbines to ducks zapped on power lines, is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
7. Total censorship of the words “climate change” from government documents
8. Proposed 70% reduction in funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
9. Easing the standards from maximum achievable as set by the Clear Air (1970) Clean Water (1972) to permitting a “minimum” achievable reduction of air and water pollution
10. Elimination of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), claiming that “the war on coal is over.”
11. Suspension of a study of health risks to residents who live near mountaintop removal coal mining sites in the Appalachians
12. Cancellation of a rule to help prevent endangered whales and sea turtles from becoming entangled in fishing nets off the U.S. West Coast
13. Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement, steering away from a group of 194 other countries that have promised to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions
14. Reversing the bans on offshore oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans
15. Revocation of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s “Stream Protection Rule”, that placed strict restrictions on dumping mining waste into surrounding waterways
16. Interior Secretary’s emphasis upon the value of logging, ranching and energy development on all public lands not designated national monuments
17. A new proposal that would make several key changes to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, that has served as a bulwark against the bald eagle’s extinction, among thousands of other species
Francis A. Luthe
Ocean Grove, NJ