Reasons To Be Hopeful This Earth Day

Dear Matt,

This Earth Day, it’s possible to be hopeful about the future of America’s environmental policy. Gus Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, co-founder of the National Resources Defense Council and member of the You Street Advisory Board, wrote in an editorial today:

“We have a supportive President and Congress, as well as a groundswell of public support for tackling global warming and moving towards a more a sensible energy policy. But what really makes me hopeful is the possibility that we may finally be able to eliminate the unhealthy influence of the special interests that have hindered legislation that would have protected our environment and created a sane and sustainable energy policy.”

If we want a cleaner environment, we must start with clean elections. Here are three things you can do right now:

1. Make a small donation to support our work for fair elections

2. Ask your representatives in Congress to support the Fair Elections Now Act

3. Engage our allies in the environmental movement by sharing this email or sharing the research at http://youstreet.org/environment on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog.

Why start with clean politics?

According to an analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the energy industry has contributed heftily to the campaign coffers of candidates running for Congress. This industry includes oil and gas companies, electric utilities, and mining groups, all of whom have invested heavily in members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Combined, industry-related individuals and political action committees gave over $471 million to federal elections campaigns from 1990 to 2008.

20 to 1

Environmental groups couldn’t keep up in this game. In fact they were outspent twenty to one by the energy industry. The results of our money-driven politics have not been surprising: Congress has been painfully slow to take action on our major environmental challenges. With industry dollars so heavily stacked against us, it will be a difficult battle.

Policymakers do have a tool, however, to make it a fair fight: citizen funding for all federal elections. Candidates who take part will give up large contributions from PACs and special interests in favor of support from a diverse group of small-dollar donors from within their constituency.Once elected, our leaders can devote all of their time to governing instead of fund raising. Most important, they are not beholden to any special interests. They have been elected to represent America’s interest. That’s why there’s so much reason for us to be hopeful.

Cleaner politics can help us achieve a cleaner environment. So this Earth Day, show your support for protecting our environment and our democracy.

Yours in action,

Nick Mitchell

You Street