This week, in conjunction with our screening of An Inconvenient Sequel Wednesday night (more details here), we'll be focusing our call scripts on efforts to fight climate change and the erosion of environmental protections.
But here's the unfortunate truth: Congress doesn't have much ability to set or drive environmental policy. That falls under the purview of the executive branch. President Obama's administration implemented many new environment-friendly rules and regulations that Trump has wasted no time in rolling back.
However, Congress isn't completely powerless. After all, they're the ones who get to set the annual budget, including appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has provided some guidelines… but in the end, it's really up to Congress who gets what money.
Which is good, because Trump's proposed 2018 budget is particularly bad for the environment, imposing the following cuts:
- Cuts the EPA's funding by 31%.
- Eliminates 20% of the EPA's workforce.
- Eliminates the Environmental Justice Program that addresses environmental concerns in low-income areas.
- Eliminates federal funding to conduct flood mapping.
- Eliminates the Energy Star program, which promotes energy efficiency in appliances. (Seriously, Energy Star? Who in their right mind hates ENERGY STAR?)
- Eliminates funding to clean up waterways, such as the Great Lakes and our very own Gulf of Mexico. (In fact, in a budget hearing, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney essentially asked, "Why should someone from Arkansas pay to clean up the Great Lakes?" WHAT?!)
- Cuts the FEMA's mitigation programs by a whopping 61%, programs which are used to help communities prepare for the next natural disaster.
Obviously any of these cuts and eliminations coming to pass would have potentially devastating consequences for Louisiana. I mean, just imagine a federal government that wouldn't help us pay to clean up the next BP oil spill, or help us prepare for the next Katrina. Imagine a federal government that won't even give you a tax break to buy a new energy efficient dishwasher. (Sorry, I just can't get over that one.)
The 2018 budget will be one of the first things our Senators tackle when they get back into office in September. We should call them now and urge them not to support ANY cuts to the EPA or its vital programs.
WHO TO CALL:
Senators Kennedy and Cassidy
Senator Bill Cassidy - DC OFFICE: (202) 224-5824 and METAIRIE OFFICE: (504) 838-0130 (NOTE: If you can't get through to Metairie, try one of the other offices, such as Monroe: (318) 324-2111, Lake Charles: (337) 493-5398, or Alexandria: Phone: (318) 448-7176)
Senator John Kennedy: DC OFFICE: (202) 224-4623 and MONROE OFFICE (318) 361-1489
Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent. Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way. Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy. If you get a voicemail, then leave a message. And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!
Hi, my name is [Your Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].
I'm calling today to urge the Senator to oppose ANY cuts to the EPA's budget. The EPA budget is already 20% lower than it was in 2010, and the proposed cuts would be devastating, especially for Louisiana. Imagine a federal government that won't help us clean up the Gulf of Mexico, or that cuts FEMA mitigation programs, leaving us defenseless in hurricane season! Cutting the EPA's budget is counterproductive, short-sighted, BAD policy, and it will come back to bite us sooner rather than later.
Thank you for your time and your hard work answering the phones.
This call is courtesy of Metairie Indivisible.