Fifty years ago today, I was begging my father to drive me into town (I didn’t yet have a driver’s license) so that I could join the first Earth Day protest.
Today, I am begging my father to stay home and not drive himself into town for groceries.
So much has changed, in a few months, and in fifty years. Out of that first Earth Day came the Clean Air Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency. We have seen great improvement in air quality over the decades, across the country — as our economy has thrived. Strong protections and a strong economy have gone hand in hand. The cleanup is nowhere near done — it turns out the pollution you can’t see hurts the most. But we’ve come to take for granted that we have a right to clean air, and that our government will protect us from pollution. Big mistake.
I have written an op ed up for the New York Times up now: “Don’t Celebrate Earth Day. Fight for It.”
I outline how this administration has trammeled the EPA’s mission. Today, I’m not celebrating. I’m in full-on warrior mode.
In the midst of this pandemic, as we are being assaulted by a virus that targets our lungs, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler is feverishly ramming through his and the president’s radical agenda to cripple the Clean Air Act. He is also bringing to a screeching halt any action we have taken to stop the climate pollution that is so dangerously warming our planet.
Little did I know, that first Earth Day, that I would end up devoting my remaining days to fighting for clean air and climate safety. We are in the fight of our lives.
Politicians talk about the “youth vote” and how important climate action is to young people. But this movement spans generations. Climate action and clean air matter more than ever to all of us — from those who started paying attention fifty years ago to the high school students striking each week. Clean air and climate action matter, profoundly, to anyone who has held a newborn and felt that overwhelming surge to do whatever it takes to protect them.
To our political representatives, who are remaining silent while this travesty of an EPA administrator wreaks havoc: Call it the “Mom Vote.” We’re here. We care. And we count. We will keep fighting — and voting — because we are doing everything we can to leave the world safer and better for our children and grandchildren.
So step up to fight for Earth Day. Fight, because the lives of our loved ones depend upon it.