As we head into the final weeks of 2016, we face a very different world than we did at this same time last year. On the one hand, we have just come through an election marked by rancor and division, racism and anger. A climate denier and Big Oil lobbyist is leading the EPA through the presidential transition – and now Scott Pruitt, another climate denier and fossil fuel apologist, has been picked as the agency’s new head. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s CEO is under consideration as our next Secretary of State.
At the same time, world leaders have just concluded their first climate summit since signing the historic Paris Climate Accord last year. Despite the bluster and wavering of our President-elect, countries around the globe and most of our region’s governors and mayors have never been more united in their commitment to fighting the biggest threat of our lifetimes: climate change.
Even as we both lament and laud the current turn of events, I feel privileged to lead an organization that is more suited than any other to thrive in the face of such historic moments. For 50 years, CLF has fought against special interests and well-funded opposition, taken on the biggest environmental challenges in New England – and won, gained ground at the regional and state levels when leadership in Washington has failed, and blazed new trails by reaching across the aisle and boardroom tables to forge meaningful and lasting solutions that benefit all New Englanders.
The proof of our success and our effectiveness can be seen throughout New England, from Boston Harbor to Eastport Harbor, Lake Champlain to Cape Cod, Narragansett to New Hampshire’s North Woods. Just in 2016, CLF:
- Won economy-wide reductions in climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions,
- Prevented utilities and Big Gas from forcing families and businesses to pay for massive new natural gas pipelines that New England doesn’t want or need,
- Prodded stronger protections for Lake Champlain,
- Ended toxic emissions from Rhode Island’s only landfill, and
- Celebrated New England’s first marine national monument while laying the groundwork for another.
Even with such victories behind us, however, there’s no sugar coating that we at CLF have our work cut out for us in the four years ahead. We will face a higher and steeper climb as we fight for clean air, clean water, and healthy and just communities throughout New England. But we are not powerless in the face of what’s to come. With the support of our friends, allies, members, and partners, we are doubling down on our commitment to:
- Make New England’s economy carbon-free, and show Washington that jobs and new industries will flourish as a result.
- Prepare our communities for the climate impacts that are already here, enforcing the laws when bureaucrats from Washington fail to protect our homes and businesses from climate threats.
- Craft the new approaches that will lead this nation’s response to climate change. We will make New England a model for meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Identify and act on new toxic threats that federal and state agencies even now are failing to address in our drinking, swimming, and fishing waters.
- Defend the laws that are the bulwarks of this country’s environmental protections – like the Clean Water and Clean Air acts – to the highest court if necessary, and make sure our most distressed communities are fully protected by those laws.
For a half century CLF has stood up against big challenges and met them head on – with innovative and game-changing solutions. We have proven again and again that we know when and how to change the playbook to achieve our goals. It’s part of CLF’s DNA: in good times or bad, we can be as creative and disruptive as the forces that are transforming our society.
I’m more convinced than ever that CLF will lead New England and the nation in kicking the fossil fuel addiction, in realizing the promise of fishable and swimmable waters, in achieving environmental justice, and in avoiding climate disaster.
We are ready for what lies ahead – and we want our legacy to be your legacy. The election has empowered our worst opponents, but our response is limited only by you. If you are already a CLF supporter – thank you. Your steadfast support has helped to sustain us and move us forward for 50 years. Now, I hope you will consider digging deeper and more often as we enter perhaps the most important fights in CLF’s history.
If you have never given to CLF before, I urge you to support us now. We need you now more than ever before and your gift today will make a real difference for local action, local innovation, and local progress in the face of federal inaction.
Just as importantly: Engage with us. Let us know your concerns and let us keep you informed as the drama unfolds inside and outside the Beltway; help us expand our community and build a new generation of CLF members; and take action with us at every opportunity.
Thank you for your commitment, your wisdom, your inspiration, and your support. I am glad you are by our side.