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Environmental Protection Rollbacks

Wildfire smoke from Canada and California obscures the view from Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park during August 2018. The parks project that global warming will melt all the glaciers in the park in the next 5 years.

While we are at home, things are happening out in the world. Some of the most hopeful are the reduction of pollution and return of wildlife to places once dominated by human use. It is humbling that a tiny being, a virus, can overcome all the barriers to reducing our consumption and rebalancing our relationship with the natural environment that seemed insurmountable only a month ago. It recalls to mind the spirit of the Valve Turner's action, that we can accomplish nothing alone, but only through cooperation with the mystery of the spiritual world that surrounds us.

And so we are not despairing, but waiting watchfully at the other, more destructive developments that are proceeding while we are staying home. In Chicago, over and against years of community organizing, a developer demolished a coal power plant stack in the midst of a latinx neighborhood on Saturday, April 11th, during both Holy Week and Passover. For the safety of their community, many organizers in this neighborhood chose to cancel meetings and close offices in advance of the official stay at home order while concurrently acknowledging their expectation that the developer would take advantage of the shut down in some way. They were right. Without any of the common-sense and promised safety measures, the smokestack fell, and a huge cloud of toxic dust washed over the community.

On a federal level, much the same is happening. We have seen clean the EPA stop enforcing environmental laws due to Covid-19, remove recently-won rules to lower vehicle emissions, as well as restrictions on mercury and coal power emissions.

Have a little more time on your hands these days? At the bottom of this Frontline segment is a link to the movie, The War on the EPA, following the story of how Andrew Wheeler, a lawyer and energy industry lobbyist who opposed EPA regulations, who is now the director of the EPA.

We are feeling, as a group, a mix of motives towards continued organizing and activism and working to create new communal systems that will support the people most harmed by this shut down of our economy, creating alternative economies that can extend this reduction in consumption and environmental impact. We hope you, wherever you are, will join us in imagining a new world, a more beautiful and sustainable world, and taking the small actions available to you to make it more real.

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