Posted on April 20, 2018
This Earth Day, April 22nd, provides an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with this blue and green orb we call home and how we might do more to protect it. As our hearts and minds turn to the Earth, we think of fossil fuels, climate change, plastics in the ocean, water rights, pipelines and more. Facing what seems to be a never-ending list of environmental crises, the question becomes “What truly is most important?” Together, we have signed countless petitions, made phone call after phone call, and written hundreds of thousands of letters. Some of us even put on environmental film festivals. All while we watch the current administration take away environmental protections that will now set us back a decade or more. Like us, you may be wondering “what can we really do to make a difference?”
Often on the front lines of many of the environmental injustices that plague our country, Earthjustice is equipped to provide insight into this dizzying question. You may recognize them from their tagline “Because The Earth Needs A Good Lawyer”. Earthjustice has been the legal backbone for thousands of organizations, large and small, internationally – not to mention they are currently a National Partner of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. They wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
Curious about how we might utilize the occasion of Earth Day to further the conversation, we spoke with Abigail Dillen, Vice President of Litigation for Climate & Energy at Earthjustice and asked, “If you could choose the most important crises of our time, what would you say is our prime concern?”
She stated the most important and dire of all of the issues before us is climate change. When Ms. Dillen expressed “there is no going back,” it gives real pause. We have heard sentiments like this before, but coming from one of Earth’s litigators, it felt dire. “The time for averting the bigger crisis is now,” she said.
She went on to say that we must truly “think globally but act locally.” Make a pact to learn and pay attention to where your energy comes from. Take the time to think carefully about how we can affect change around us. “We have the resources in this country; politics is the only thing stopping us.”
We spoke about how presently, many Americans feel disenfranchised from the political process. Referring to this period of uncertainty, we asked Ms. Dillen, “What can we do when we feel like our country is out of control?” To which she responded, “Some of the most powerful change has come from frontline communities. When push comes to shove and the public shows up…wow!” There are so many examples of this happening all over the country. We suggest you spend some time on www.EarthJustice.org to see how communities are effectively advocating for positive change. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that grassroots organizations, communities, and individuals, can make powerful impacts, even if we feel small sometimes.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
Learn About “Your Right to Zero” – a campaign that is transforming the way we use energy and transport goods, services and ourselves across California.
Act Now – Tell the 194 countries committed to the Paris Agreement that you’re still in
Right behind climate change, Ms. Dillen reminded us that we must not take our “bedrock environmental protections for granted.” She referred to the story of Rachel Carson who, in the 1950’s, fought tirelessly against chemical companies and pesticides that had been killing wildlife. This inspired the “enactment of some of the strongest environmental protection laws that have ever been written” asserts Ms. Dillen.
“Our current administration is now rolling back those monumental protections.” Ripping away our public lands, offshore drilling, repealing the clean power plan, coal ash dumps; “these are ideas that should not even be on the table.” Luckily, Earthjustice has a few ways where you can stand up for your right as a citizen of this country for access to land, clean air and water, and human health.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
Act Now – ask the EPA not to repeal the clean power plan
Act More – Don’t let dirty industry pollute our waters and communities with toxic coal ash
Finally, Ms. Dillen stressed that we must stand up for our rights in court. She told us that there is currently an unprecedented movement by Congress and the Trump administration to construct barriers that destroy people’s ability to use the civil justice system to challenge wrongdoing. “They want to bar the courthouse doors. Losing access would be the biggest devastation to civil rights, workers rights, and the environment.” Why? Because politicians see that people showing up has been more powerful than anything. “If we saw the courthouse doors closed, it would be perilous to all social issues.” We must defend our access to courts.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
Urgent Info about what’s at stake if we lose access to our courts
Important Work Underway – get informed about some of Earthjustice’s important legal fights now underway
These actions are tangible. They give us the direction we need this Earth Day. In true Wild & Scenic Film Festival fashion, we did not want to simply focus on the hardships we face, but provide practical resources to empower anyone to act. Ms. Dillen’s answers should motivate and inspire us to act at a community level and to know that our local actions can and DO affect change. Let’s do our part by engaging our communities to achieve political success on a local level. Let us work together to pay attention to where our energy comes from and to defend our access to the courts. Earth may already have a good lawyer, but she needs all of us to be good stewards as well.
A very special thanks to Abigail Dillen for taking the time to engage with us for this interview. To learn more about Earthjustice, visit their website earthjustice.org and follow them on social media @earthjustice. Photos courtesy of Earthjustice.