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While We Shelter in Place, What’s Happening to our Planet during Earth Month 2020?

April 9, 2020

While we have been busy sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and not taking dirt or any other paths, a lot of people have promoted how the planet is taking a breather: the air is cleaner, animals can move about more freely.

But Sierra Club lobbyist Jim Hines says he has been busier than ever because work continues full sped ahead in the executive offices of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and at the White House.
For example, either the U.S. Department of the Interior or the White House has:
  • APPROVED: building a new section  of the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • APPROVED: building a LNG terminal to send natural gas from our public lands in Wyoming to the Chinese market
  • GOING FORWARD: opening up new offshore oil drilling
  • DONE: eliminated protections for migratory birds
  • DONE: shuttered the federal endangered specie act
  • DONE: prevented all public comment on destructive projects
  • APPROVED: mining for uranium on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • STOPPED: enforcing environmental laws on the fossil fuel industry
  • APPOINTED: completed reappointment of anti federal lands zealot as BLM director
  • CONTINUED: work on a BLM Director vision to create an autonomous region in the west from our national public lands
According to Jim, all of this has been done since the national emergency was put in place and there’s more in the works for next week.
“Our challenges facing our nation are huge right now,” says Jim, “and to add to the problems each one of us has in attempting to stay alive some of us have to deal with an administration out of control when it comes to destroying America’s national parks, national monuments and other national public lands units and the protection of wildlife.”
Jim is busy:
  • working through the courts
  • reaching out to congressional members and staffs
  • reaching out to Administration officials who are doing all of this
  • informing the American public about what is going on behind the scenes right now…..of course all done remotely at this time.
“I have never ever spent so much time on conference calls and individual calls with various congressional members and staff and officials in the Trump Administration,” says Jim.

So what can we do, Jim? How can we help? Sure the Sierra Club wants donations to carry on Jim’s important work, but what else can we do?
For one, and this is important, share this information. Get this information out there to as many people as possible. While we have all been busy staying at home flattening the curve, and rightly so, it is shocking to think that during this time where we are distracted, the White House and appointees at the Department of Interior are busy dismantling so many protections for our planet.
As Jim points out to me, “They took away public comment periods so the best I can come up with right now is for people throughout our nation to contact their members of the House and Senate no matter what party and express their outrage at what’s going on.” As soon as he has info on how people can take part remotely on these issues, he will let everyone know but for now all we have is the courts.
And the court of public opinion.
It’s hard but instead of being bored or obsessed with the latest COVID 19 news (or non-news if it’s coming form the White House), this Earth Month keep your eyes on the prize — our planet! Because we can’t live without it.
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