March 22 is World Water Day. This day has been observed by the United Nations since 1993 to encourage governments and communities to tackle the water crisis around the world. Unfortunately, this water crisis affects us increasingly right here in the U.S., the richest country in the world.
People’s Action affiliates joined Food and Water Watch in ten U.S. cities for World Water Day to demand that our representatives defend the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and support Rep. John Conyers’ WATER Act, which would bring much-needed investment to protect safe water.
These actions come in response to Republican plans to gut the EPA in the 2017 budget. The Trump Administration plans to cut the EPA budget by nearly a third – as much as $1.2 billion – and these will eliminate several key program areas, including climate and greenhouse gas programs and the enforcement division, according to public reports. The result will be more pollution, and less enforcement to hold polluters accountable for their actions.
Water Actions From Detroit to Colorado
Detroit’s 48217 is the nation’s most polluted zip code, with staggering rates of asthma, heart disease and neurological disorders. Twenty members of Michigan United, a People’s Action member organization, met wearing hospital facemasks in the shadow of the Marathon oil refinery at the Rouge River.
This river is one of the most polluted in the country, and causes chronic health issues for many members of the surrounding community. They demanded that Congressmen Trott and Bishop stand against Trump’s gutting of the EPA, and support the WATER Act for the sake of our health and our children’s health.
35 members of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), a People’s Action member organization, picketed U.S. Senator Dean Heller’s office at the Federal building in downtown Reno, NV. The protesters were met with strong support from passers-by as they demanded that Sen. Heller protect clean water in Nevada by voting against cuts to the EPA.
40 members of Take Action Minnesota, A People’s Action member organization, showed up at the Northern Metals Recycling facility in North Minneapolis for a rally, then marched to the Lowry bridge that overlooks the Mississippi River to drop a banner, connecting our fight for clean air, clean water, and a healthy planet.
Speakers included a statement from the staff of Congressman Keith Ellison and remarks from Minneapolis City Council Candidate Jeremiah Ellison.
This action showed how the fight against environmental racism is connected to all of our struggles: from the local campaign to shut down the toxic Northern Metals facility that contributes to high rates of lead exposure, to fighting pipelines across the state, and national efforts like fighting EPA budget cuts, protecting health care and supporting the WATER Act.
And Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA), a People’s Action member organization, rallied with Food and Water Watch Colorado and other allies rallied to call on U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to stand strong with Colorado, and oppose any attacks on our environment and health, by the Trump Administration or corporate polluters. Allies will show solidarity in rally outside, while COPA members will hold space in Bennet’s office to ensure he is accountable to our communities.
Rather than weakening environmental protections, we should strengthen rules to protect communities from the impacts of factory farms, fossil fuel production and use, other sources of pollution. It is vital to support the EPA and the WATER Act to ensure all people have access to clean water, safe food, and a livable climate.