Protectors of our air, water and planet were left disheartened by this week’s election results. Over the past eight years, environmentalists on either side of the aisle have worked to grow the renewable energy industry at record rates, protect millions of acres of land from development, improve air and water quality in neglected regions and sign a historic global climate accord. When election results settled, some environmentalists started to feel all of their accomplishments slipping away. Do not give up hope. All of us must remember that the federal government is not the only outlet for change.
There is no reason to abandon momentum or forget the accomplishments in our recent history. We need to continue to celebrate these accomplishments and grow the support for the movement. The tremendous momentum to shut down coal plants and build wind and solar is too big to be slowed down by any president. There is nothing any president can do to reverse the decline in the cost of solar and wind energy. Those are accomplishments that can not be undone.
The health of the environment affects every single living thing on this planet. It is of utmost importance to millions across the globe, and those millions have enacted change with and without the support of the United States federal government. Now is the time to renew your commitment to clean air, clean water and a better environment with continued action.
Actions You Can Take to Better the Planet (No federal government necessary):
Support the Renewable Energy Industry:
It is likely that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will be all but dismantled in the near future. Oil and coal subsidies could gain even more federal support and environmental regulations may be softened to allow for further growth in these industries. Simultaneously, it is possible that tax credits for the renewable energy industries will be eliminated. If you live in a deregulated state, you can support the renewable energy industry by choosing a clean energy supplier for your electricity. At CleanChoice Energy, we empower customers to make a difference by sourcing 100% of their electricity usage from new wind and solar farms.
If you live in a state where electric choice is not yet a reality, you can purchase renewable energy credits to offset your usage. These credits are sold to the grid by renewable energy producers and your purchase supports their continued output. By helping private companies support the renewable energy industry, we can help renewable production continue to grow. If you do not live in a deregulated state, you can support the clean energy industry by going solar through rooftop or community solar products.
Federal government decisions have a great impact on our environment, but most environmental and energy legislation is actually enacted at the state level. Many states have “renewable portfolio standards,” which typically mandate an increase in the share of renewable electricity purchased for use in that state. These standards appear on ballots from time to time. Make sure that you are aware of upcoming ballot measures to add or improve a renewable portfolio standard in your state.
States can enact many different laws to expand upon those created by the federal government. Keep an eye out for upcoming environmental laws and contact your state representatives to express your support.While sometimes overturned by the state, city-level policy can also have a significant impact in the environment. Across the country, many cities have taken it upon themselves to enact 100% clean energy goals. Make sure you stay engaged with your city or town representatives and encourage your friends and neighbors to support pro-environmental legislation.
Vote in “Off-Year” Elections
While voter turnout in the 2016 election was low, it can be abysmal in off-year elections. Often times, voting in these elections can have an impact on whether or not pro-environment candidates are elected. In 2017, many mayors of major cities are up for election. Read up on these candidates and others running in your area and spend sometime encouraging others to do the same.
Donate to the Cause
There are many non-profit groups who tirelessly fight for the environment and who have done so without the support of the federal government before. Whether your issue is clean water, clean air, wildlife protections or simply general environmental protection, there are numerous meaningful groups to choose from. These groups will need your support to continue to build upon the differences they have already made.
Basic and meaningful, volunteering can have a direct impact on the environmental quality in your area. Volunteer for local restoration efforts, to help organize and environmental event or to even help educate children on nature here.
We'll Never Give Up
In the last sixty years, the environmental movement has launched and significantly improved the Clean Air Act - twice, created and overhauled water protections, and passed rules protecting the environment and those who depend on it from pollution and destruction. We have introduced recycling programs and pollution laws and signed on to the landmark climate treaties. We have also enabled renewable energy to be competitive with traditional fossil fuel sources. We have come a long way in such a short amount of time because there are millions, if not billions, who want to live a better life on a healthier planet - and for subsequent generations to enjoy the same. It’s our responsibility to stay mobilized and encourage others to do the same.
Just as every vote matters, every action you take that impacts this planet matters. Stay true to your values and we will continue to change this planet for the better.