A few weeks ago, the head of a large regional bay area foundation sent me the commentary from this Boston Globe op-ed. Click here to read it. I was struck by how closely it aligns with our fears about the Trump Administration’s environmental policies.
Americans have benefited from environmental protections for air and water since the early 1970s when the Clean Air and Water Acts were passed. The benefit was not immediate, however.
It took decades of political debate, court cases, citizen pressure, and leadership from public officials at all levels to produce results. Now we’re seeing the Bay start to heal. Blue crab and oyster populations are rebounding. Underwater grasses are booming. Dead zones are shrinking. While the Chesapeake is the most extreme example of improvement, and while it is still far from saved, the benefits of these two laws are universal. Think reductions in Los Angeles smog, for example, or the fact that the Cuyahoga River no longer catches fire!
While we have every right to celebrate our successes . . .
Decades of bi-partisan environmental progress, with the leadership of every President for more than 50 years, has been reversed by the current Administration, especially EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. This is the same Pruitt who made headlines when he sued EPA to stop the clean-up of the Bay as Attorney General of Oklahoma.
We risk losing one key element of why America is great—a commitment to achieve clean air and water, nationwide.
While not perfect, federal policies are the bedrock of an American conservation ethic seen nowhere else in the world. And here on the Bay, federal laws, repeatedly validated by the courts, have provided CBF with the basis for our five decades of advocacy.
That may all change if Administrator Pruitt succeeds. Huge staffing cuts, reduced federal funding, science undercut, and the empowerment of anti-environmental forces all will have lasting consequences. While a new Administration will one day reestablish a clean water and air agenda, it may take decades to rebuild.
Thank you for all that you do for our Bay, now and for generations to come.
William C. Baker
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
P.S. As we mentioned the other week, the new federal budget passed by Congress is a victory for clean water efforts. It includes critical funding for Bay restoration. However, the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposes to slash this funding by 90 percent. Take action now and thank your Congressional representatives and urge them to keep fighting to Save the Bay.