“No matter how bleak or menacing a situation may appear, it does not entirely own us. It can’t take away our freedom to respond, our power to take action.”
― Ryder Carroll
Dear Conservation Voters,
First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well during this difficult time. We are living through a time of tremendous uncertainty. Uncertainty in our jobs, in the stock market, with elections, and with the future of our planet. Three months ago, I would have never dreamt our world would be facing such volatile times, but I remain confident we will prevail because of people like you.
I want to take a moment to thank you for your continued support of Georgia Conservation Voters, and especially to those of you who have been longtime supporters of protecting the people and places we love right here in Georgia.
As we head into the 50th anniversary month of Earth Day during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, I find myself thinking deeply about the evolution of the environmental movement over the past 50 years. Most importantly, I am focused on where we are headed in the next five decades.
Coronavirus has made one thing incredibly clear: We truly are all interconnected and the fate of our planet lies in the hands of our elected leaders. Now more than ever, we must keep our eyes on the ball and continue to hold them accountable for advancing environmental progress.
There’s no doubt that when that first group of dedicated people came together to make Earth Day happen in 1970, they too were facing what seemed like incredibly volatile times. People all over America had been fighting in small groups against power plants, oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps, raw sewage spills, pesticides, freeways, and more. They were alarmed by the loss of our nation’s wonderful wilderness and the extinction of the wildlife that surrounded them. All of this in the midst of a war and ongoing conflicts over civil rights.
Still, what began as a small idea to host national environmental teach-ins blossomed into an event with over 20 million people taking to the streets, classrooms, workplaces and more demanding a world that is more just, sustainable, and inclusive.
While we cannot gather to demonstrate our collective strength in person this month, I know our movement has grown well beyond that initial 20 million. Poll after poll is showing that Americans are more concerned about climate change than ever before. In fact, over 78% of Americans now rank protecting the environment and tackling climate change as a top political priority.
We must not get discouraged and lose momentum.
While we are all hunkering down at home, President Trump has been steadily rolling back key environmental protections such as passing the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule that will actually loosen restrictions on automakers and lead to a billion more tons of carbon dioxide emissions due to the burning of 80 billion more gallons of gasoline. The head of the EPA has also taken steps to limit the studies regulators can use in the rulemaking process, potentially suppressing climate science. The agency is even allowing facilities like power plants and factories to regulate themselves during the pandemic. All while Trump’s administration continues oil and gas drilling lease auctions on public lands.
It is absolutely irresponsible to roll back these key protections during the public health crisis that is COVID-19.
Even here in Georgia, the health of our communities is at risk as key environmental bills to prevent coal ash from poisoning our water and ethylene oxide from poisoning our air have stalled due to the indefinite suspension of our state legislative session.
At GCV, we are committed to staying focused on our work to connect the dots between people and planet, politics and policy. We will continue our work on behalf of all Georgians; we’ll just have to do it a bit differently than before.
Our team is small but committed, and we are available by phone, email, video chat, or another way you want to connect. Just reach out, we are here. We are committed to taking the preventive measures as outlined by the CDC and following the stay-at-home order that has been put in place by Governor Brian Kemp.
We have compiled a few ways for you to take action while at home: A hub to help you navigate taking the census if you haven’t already; Releasing our endorsement questionnaire for candidates who are running for office, and even providing a list of environmental movies for when you need a moment to step back and unwind.
We hope you find these resources useful. If you are able, please consider giving to Georgia Conservation Voters today so that we can keep our eyes on the prize: electing leaders who are committed to a healthy and sustainable future for generations to come.