10. Defeating Bad Ideas
Environmental groups enjoyed success after success in fighting off a series of congressional attacks on pollution protections and open spaces. The EPA was under constant assault by the House of Representatives, which passed dozens of bills meant to delay, weaken, or repeal standards designed to protect public health. Our biggest victory was the defeat of a resolution written by climate denier Senator Inhofe that would have repealed President Obama’s mercury and air toxics standard for power plants and blocked the EPA from issuing mercury reduction standards in the future. Inhofe employed a radical legislative tactic that forced the vote directly onto the floor, limiting debate and preventing the use of a filibuster by Senate Clean Air allies. Nevertheless, Inhofe’s attack on the mercury protections was soundly defeated and only strengthened the resolve of legislators who were committed to putting families and the environment first.
And, as an early holiday gift, on December 20 the White House announced that President Obama would add nearly 3,000 square miles to the National Marine Sanctuary system, almost tripling its size. This latest designation, covering a stretch along the Sonoma and Mendocino County coasts in Northern California, will protect this biologically rich area from offshore oil and gas drilling. Sierra Club California has been working to protect this area for many years.
So, as 2012 draws to a close, we can give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. But as ever, environmental victories must be won again, and again, and yet again. I look forward to taking up the challenges ahead with all of you in 2013!
P.S. Don’t forget to mark February 17-18—the big President’s Day weekend Climate Legacy/Keystone XL rally in Washington, D.C.—on your calendar.