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Updated: 1 hour 32 min ago

Community Leaders Storm Capitol Hill for Clean Air, Clean Water, Climate Action

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:49

"Sierra Club Campaign to Storm the Hill." That was the Monday morning headline in POLITICO's popular daily energy newsletter, "Morning Energy," which reaches over 14,000 Washington movers and shakers.

This red carpet introduction is what greeted nearly 100 volunteers and organizers from 16 states who traveled to our nation's capital this week -- from as far away as Washington State, California, Minnesota, and Missouri -- to fight for clean air, clean water, and climate action. And storm the Hill is exactly what they have done, meeting with well over 100 congressional offices. As the Congress gears up for high-profile budget votes beginning next week, these community leaders have been pounding the halls of the House and Senate office buildings to make one thing crystal clear -- we will hold the line to stop congressional polluter payoffs that threaten the safety of our air, water, and climate.

I was proud to join these Americans from all walks of life, including veterans, teachers, students, and civil rights activists, who took time away from their jobs and busy academic schedules, with many leaving one parent or grandparent juggling the kids back home. They were here in DC because they've seen firsthand both the benefits of clean energy and the suffering caused by coal pollution. They know we are making progress on cleaning up our energy -- including the recent news that in 2014, global carbon emissions stopped rising for the first time ever, even as the economy grew. These community leaders are determined to keep moving forward, and they are in Washington calling on their elected officials to do the same.

One of those volunteers put it this way:

"We are here to speak up because everyone's health is dependent on the quality of our air and water," said Jessica Ulery, a former youth pastor and current early childhood educator, and mother and grandmother from Indiana participating in the actions in Washington this week. "We came here to let our representatives know that an attack on the EPA is an attack on their constituents' health and peace of mind. Their job is first and foremost to protect us from harm, and pollution is the number one danger in my book."

These community leaders are standing up for millions of Americans who have weighed in during recent years to support EPA protections for smog, carbon, and water pollution from coal plants. Just this week, clean air advocates announced that a half million Americans have submitted comments to EPA calling for stronger smog standards.

The week ended with a fantastic, energizing congressional reception, held in collaboration with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune and President Dave Scott welcomed the dozen Members of Congress who attended the reception, including members of the CBC and SEEC, along with other long serving members of the House who are champions of clean air and water. The members thanked the volunteers for their hard work and effective advocacy during the week, and shared some of the work they are doing in Congress to keep moving the nation forward on clean energy.

When these volunteers return home, they’ll work with more passion and determination then ever to spread the word, organize their friends and neighbors, and hold their Members of Congress accountable for how they speak and vote on these issues. They will stand up to these polluter-driven attacks on EPA. And they’ll ensure that we continue moving forward on clean air, clean water, clean energy, and climate action. If you couldn’t make it to DC but want to weigh in with your support, just click here.

Mary Anne Hitt From Compass