Signed, Sealed — and now Delivered

by Josef

June 24, 2009

It took three Greenpeace staffers, two hand trucks, and a taxicab, but we did it.  On Tuesday, we delivered over 20,000 public comment cards to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging them to conduct an "endangerment finding" that would require the establishment of regulations for limiting the danger of anything that poses a threat — and right now, one of the biggest threats we’re facing are greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on global warming.

In April, the EPA announced their conclusion that there is overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels endanger our health and welfare — which means that by law they have the ability to regulate those emissions.  As with many EPA rulings, there was a comment period as part of a process of public input which ended this week, on June 23.  This public comment period was the EPA’s next step in finalizing this proposed endangerment finding and deciding whether they’ll regulate global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act… or whether the Administration will instead leave what the finding called “a serious problem now and for future generations” to Congress and their version of adequate climate legislation.

Over the course of 60 days since the release of their conclusion, the EPA announced that they would accept comments from the public on the endangerment finding — and Greenpeace staff, volunteers, students, and online activists sent in tens of thousands of comments supporting strong regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.  We gathered over 46,000 comments in total.  Volunteers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, stood out on street corners and in front of grocery stores, students in Manchester, Tennessee, attended street fairs and events like the 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, and online activists from every corner of the country encouraged their family members and friends to submit a comment electronically.  It’s thanks to these everyday folks’ hard work that people in their communities are now educated and have taken action in urging the Obama Administration to take the necessary measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, protect public health, and avert the worst impacts of climate change.  (And it just goes to remind you that anybody can be an activist.)

So yesterday, when I went to the EPA with two of my colleagues and personally hand-delivered several boxes of handwritten comment cards to the Docket Center at the EPA, I asked a representative named "Assem" what the next steps for these cards will be.  He told me that the EPA will now be tasked to catalog and document each one of the comment cards we collected, and then they’ll be put up on — the U.S. government’s online portal that allows the public to find, review, and submit remarks on Federal documents that are open for comment.

But while it only took three Greenpeace staffers, two hand trucks, and a taxicab to deliver our comments to the EPA, it’s gonna take all of us to make our comments heard loud and clear.  Join the Greenpeace Activist Network today, and help us help our planet.

By Josef

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