My New Year’s resolution: Stand up for the environment

Go to the gym more often. Plant a vegetable garden. Learn a new sport.

Every year I come up with New Year’s resolutions, if for no other reason than to set a personal goal for myself, something interesting to work on with my free time.

In 2017, now halfway through my first year of grad school, I have less free time and brain space than ever before to focus on making and seeing through New Year’s resolutions. And yet, now more than ever, it feels like there’s one resolution I need to make.

This past Tuesday marked the first day of session for the Republican-controlled 115th Congress, and soon Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Regardless of your personal politics, it’s impossible to miss the seismic shift in the political landscape of the federal government that’s occurring this month. And with the Senate about to take up the confirmation hearings for key cabinet positions including EPA Administrator, Secretary of Energy and Secretary of State, it’s impossible to deny that the federal appetite for environmental policy is about to change drastically.

Source: Architect of the Capitol (via Wikimedia Commons)

Like many of my classmates and fellow members of the Nicholas School community, I see my values as an environmentalist – not to mention my future public-sector job prospects – being threatened by some of the men nominated to become leaders in the federal government.

I want the EPA to safeguard our air and water from pollution, not copy the wish lists of oil and gas companies onto government letterhead. I want the Department of Energy to be led by someone who can bring us the electric grid of the future, not someone who sits on the board of the natural gas firm behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

So for 2017, I resolve to get more involved in the political process, and stand up for the environmental values I believe in.

I started this morning by calling the district offices for both of my senators in North Carolina. I urged them to stand up for environmental protection when the EPA and Department of Energy confirmation hearings come to the Senate floor.

The calls took one minute apiece – not much more time than posting to Facebook or signing an online petition. But congressional staffers say that calling is by far the most effective way to get your voice heard in Washington D.C.

Realistically, my phone call in isolation isn’t likely to change anybody’s mind. But one of the staffers I spoke to said she was keeping a tally of phone calls, and would pass that onto the senator. So if everyone who reads this blog calls their senators, someone might take notice. And if everyone who reads this blog gets their friends to call in, too, that’s when our senators will have no choice but to listen to our concerns.

Here is a helpful Google doc to find your senators’ phone numbers. (Just click on the “Contact Your Senator” tab.) With just a 1-minute call, you too can start 2017 off on the right foot – even if you never made it to the gym today!