Environmental Leaders Urge President Obama to Tackle Climate Change and Advocate for Clean Air and Water to Protect Public Health and U.S. Economy in State of the Union Address

Date:   February 11, 2013
Contact:   Shannon Andrea, National Parks Conservation Association, sandrea@npca.org, 202-454-3371
Elizabeth Heyd, Natural Resources Defense Council, eheyd@nrdc.org, 202-289-2424
Eric Pooley, Environmental Defense Fund, epooley@edf.org, 212-616-1329

Environmental Leaders Urge President Obama to Tackle Climate Change and Advocate for Clean Air and Water to Protect Public Health and U.S. Economy in State of the Union Address

Groups Say Budget Deals Need to Protect Parks, Wildlife, Waters, and Public Lands to Strengthen Economy and Benefit American Families Nationwide

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of national conservation and environmental organizations today urged President Obama to use his upcoming State of the Union address to outline aggressive action to reduce the threat of climate change, cut carbon pollution and to ensure greater protection of America’s air, water, wildlife and most spectacular places by investing in conservation agencies and initiatives that generate millions of jobs across America.

“President Obama should continue leading our country toward a better future by taking aggressive steps to curb carbon pollution that is driving climate change. Americans are counting on him,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association. “His leadership is needed to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service have the resources to serve the public, and protect our health and our most spectacular places. Deeper, arbitrary cuts to these agency budgets will harm our quality of life.  American families want their air and water protected and their national parks to stay open.”

The organizations urge President Obama to build on the historic vehicle standards and carbon pollution reductions from new sources he secured in his first term by moving forward on new carbon pollution limits for existing industrial sources such as power plants in his second term. Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership in the world, while expanding clean energy jobs in the United States.  

“Climate change is here now and is jeopardizing the health of our families, our communities and our planet. It is the greatest environmental challenge of our time and President Obama’s response will leave an historic legacy for America’s future generations,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“From Hurricane Sandy to the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, far too many Americans have already been harmed by extreme weather events fueled in part by global warming. We have the clean energy solutions to tackle this problem and protect future generations, but we need President Obama to lead the way,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America.

“Addressing climate change is a critical economic issue. Our farmers and ranchers are coping with historic droughts, more powerful storms are destroying many billions of dollars worth of property, and the bill for our children and grandchildren will be staggering. We are eager to work with the President to meet this challenge,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

As President Obama works to put the nation’s fiscal house in order, conservation leaders urge him to support budget deals that protect our health and environment, strengthen our economy and invest in the future. This includes investing in agencies and programs that are essential to protecting America’s air, water, oceans, wildlife, and national parks – all of which make up only slightly more than 1 percent of the entire federal budget but provide enormous benefits to every American family.  

Instead of taking more from those popular initiatives the president could push for ending billions of dollars in subsidies that go annually to oil and gas interests.

In December, Congress avoided the fiscal cliff by passing a last minute tax bill, but the fiscal deal only briefly postponed impending cuts to essential programs that protect our air, our water, our oceans, our wildlife and our national parks.  The threat is still very much alive and on March 1, Congress will approach another deadline.

Examples of how the sequester or a similarly bad budget deal could impact these programs include:
o    Closure of some national parks, wildlife refuges, and ending visitor programs on these and other public lands, severely impacting the nearly $650 billion annual economic contribution generated by outdoor recreation, much of which is supported by activities on these lands.

o    Cuts to research and development programs at the Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency will hinder the creation of new, world-leading American technologies in wind, solar and biofuels.

o    Cutting EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund will cripple a critical tool for addressing pollution from sewage systems and storm water runoff that threatens public health and our use and enjoyment of waterways. Cutting a program that has created between 1.4 and 2 million jobs since 1988 will only undermine needed investment in our public water infrastructure and cost thousands of jobs.


American Rivers * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Environment America * Environmental Defense Fund * Friends of the Earth * Greenpeace * League of Conservation Voters * National Parks Conservation Association * Natural Resources Defense Council * Oceana * Ocean Conservancy * Population Action International * Sierra Club * The Trust for Public Land * The Wilderness Society *


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