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EDF and Trump

Story ID:11324
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Washington D.C. United States
Person:Vickie Patton
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It was time to DE clutter my coffee table which was groaning under the weight
of too much mail and reading material. So, I began. The first newsletter I read
from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) would almost have me on the verge
of tears. I’m not the one in my family who cries easily. My older sister does, but
the EDF article “Trial by fire” brought me very close to angry tears.

On a day which usually makes Americans proud and happy, too many of us weren’t.
On this day- January 20, 2017- Donald Trump became our president. If that wasn’t
bad enough, on this same day at high noon -EPA’s climate website went dark. What
a terrible way to start a presidency by showing contempt for an environmental agency.

EDF staffers had been alerted to this happening, and their legal team kicked into
gear. They filed a request with the EPA under the Freedom of Information Act to
restore public access to data. The Trump administration’s attempt to conceal the
truth was thwarted by their timely action. This set in motion a legal process to
ensure the preservation of health and air pollution data. General Counsel Vickie
Patton observed: “During these extraordinary times, the law is our strongest ally.”

Then four days later- rumors spread that there was a plan to permanently take down
all climate-related material from the EPA’s website. But EDF attorneys Peter Zalzal
and Martha Roberts put together a team of over a dozen young attorneys and legal
fellows to address this fear. Together they huddled around their laptops in EDF offices
in Boulder, CO and Washington, D.C. They managed to down load data sets to ensure
that climate information compiled over the years wasn’t lost. I believe we owe this
group a debt of gratitude.

Zalzal observed “This scientific data is the foundation for sound environment and
health policy. To eliminate it would be unprecedented.” Thankfully, because of their
timely work and the work of others –the administration backed off.

It is good to know that we have these environmental lawyers defending the public interest.
They oppose any retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement. They even have managed to
convince companies like Walmart that environmental protection pays. Walmart has been
an EDF partner for more than ten years, and they have pledged to cut greenhouse gas
emissions by one billion tons by 2030.

The EDF has also done considerable environmental work in some states. With their help,
Illinois passed a law which will double the state’s renewable energy by 2030 and cut
power-sector carbon pollution by more than half.

In Ohio they have succeeded in urging Governor John Kasich to veto a bill that would
have gutted energy efficiency and renewable investments in the state and cost at least
80,000 jobs.

In New York they helped win approval of a new rate plan for its major electric utility which
will increase energy efficiency funding and other incentives for electric vehicles.

California enacted the clean cars law in 2002 with backing from EDF. In 2006 they passed
landmark legislation co-sponsored by EDF that is lowering emissions even as the state’s
ecomony flourishes.

Yes, my coffee table is still groaning under the weight of too much mail and reading material,
but I’m glad that I took the time to learn about the wonderful, needful work of EDF. God bless
their endeavors. I know that they will keep a vigilant eye on the Trump administration and
hopefully will thwart them in any way which is destructive to our environment.