Week 24: Environmental Defense Fund

On July 18th the House passed H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, which contrary to its name actually delays the implementation of 2015 regulations that called for stricter control of the air pollutant ozone. The 2015 regulations lowered the allowable levels of ozone that states cannot exceed. In addition, this new bill reduces the EPA’s assessment of the health effects of ozone from once every 5 years to once every 10 years. Supporters of H.R. 806 claim that the 2015 regulations place an undue burden on industry and do not take into account jobs and the economy. Ozone in the upper atmosphere protects people from harmful solar radiation, but high concentrations of ozone near the Earth’s surface destroy crops, aggravate asthma, and can increase the risk of pulmonary diseases like emphysema and bronchitis. The American Lung Association, National Medical Association, and other medical groups oppose H.R. 806 and refer to it as the “Smoggy Skies Act.” The bill’s Senate counterpart, S. 263, is currently undergoing hearings but faces stiffer opposition than in the House from Senate Democrats. Here is a link to a petition to voice opposition to the Smoggy Skies Act.

This week, we donated to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that works to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. EDF utilizes research, policy, partnerships, and economic incentives to drive environmental progress. In recent years EDF reformed decades-old chemical safety laws, reduced toxic chemicals in consumer products from retailers such as Walmart and Target, introduced an innovative sustainable fishing method, drove research and policy limiting emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane on 245 million acres of land, and created a new conservation tool known as “habitat exchanges” to protect threatened wildlife.

We believe that the current administration’s negligent environmental policy and attacks on science will have devastating consequences for not just our generation, but all future generations. This earth is our one-and-only home, and we need to care for it well and fight for its protection. This is not just a matter of politics. It is a matter of life and health for our planet, our people and our future.


Week 23: Transgender Law Center

In the early morning hours on July 26th Trump tweeted 3 times in succession, in full stating: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.” The costs of the approximately 15,000 U.S. transgender soldiers has been estimated at $2.4 – $8.4 million annually, representing at the most 0.0013% of the defense budget. To further put this cost into perspective, a Government Accountability Office report determined that Trump’s visits to his Mar-a-Lago golf club cost taxpayers about $3.6 million each. At that rate, Trump’s 11 Mar-a-Lago trips already taken as President have cost taxpayers about $39.6 million – over 4 times more than the highest transgender soldier cost estimate. Sign this petition to stop Trump’s ban on transgender military service.

This week we supported the Transgender Law Center (TLC), whose work reforms law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. TLC’s many programs include TRUTH, a national trans and gender nonconforming youth storytelling campaign that aims to build empathy, understanding, and a movement for youth to share their stories in their own words. Recent TLC legal victories include a unanimous Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing transgender student Ash Whitaker to use the boys’ restrooms, and a settlement backed by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for a federal worker in Texas who was denied health care coverage.

We believe that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Trump’s treatment of our transgender community is despicable and unjust. To attack soldiers who serve our nation, putting their lives on the line to keep us safe, is unbelievably wrong. We all need to stand up and speak out in support of our transgender citizens–especially for those who serve in our military. They need to know, more than ever before, that we are proud of them and and are grateful to them.

Week 22: RAINN

Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are planning to roll back Obama-era Title IX guidance regarding sexual assault on college campuses. DeVos states that too many students have been wrongfully accused and treated unfairly. Candice Jackson, civil rights head at the Department of Education, said that “90 percent of sexual assault cases fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right’.” Jackson later apologized for the remarks and said she is a survivor of sexual assault herself. The 2011 guidance outlined how federally-funded colleges must meet their obligations to prohibit sexual discrimination to comply with Title IX. This guidance includes publishing clear procedures, employee training, prompt responses to accusations, an equitable complaint process for accuser and accused, and protection against retaliation for those who report an assault. We believe that the civil rights chair at the Department of Education should not be dismissing the stories of student sexual assault survivors. If you agree with us, here is a petition you can sign demanding that Candice Jackson be fired.

This week we donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN reports that 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, and that only 20% of 18-24 year old female student victims report the assault to law enforcement. The organization states they have helped 2.5 million people since 1994, including over 175,000 in 2016 alone. RAINN provides Victim Services, Public Policy, and Public Education via news and truthful storytelling through the entertainment industry and survivor spokespeople. Victim’s Services includes a 24/7 hotline available in multiple languages. In 2016 they spearheaded the Justice for All Reauthorization Act which increased the use of DNA evidence to solve thousands of open rape cases.

We believe that it is crucial to protect victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and to promote a culture on college campuses where everyone feels respected, valued and safe. The 2011 guidance on how federally-funded colleges must meet their obligations to prohibit sexual discrimination is a step in the right direction; DeVos and Jackson are willingly turning a blind eye on victims of sexual assault and are moving our college campuses backwards when it comes to equality, justice and safety. The Department of Education is meant to educate students to help them live happy, healthy and productive lives. DeVos and Jackson should be champions for student victims of sexual assault, not dismissive of them. Now more than ever, the important work done by RAINN is a lifeline for countless individuals, and we are proud to support their work this week.