WashU Expert: Lipeles offers advice to Congress on environmental policy

Pretending to deny climate change only increases the harm we will suffer

Maxine Lipeles, senior lecturer in the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, is director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic. Lipeles has been consistently recognized as one of the best environmental attorneys in the country. She offers advice for the incoming 115th Congress:

“Don’t make environmental protection a political or partisan issue.

Maxine Lipeles

“For roughly the past half-century, national leaders of both parties have recognized that environmental protection benefits all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, and that the health risks posed by pollution threaten us all.  Thanks to our environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act (1970) and Clean Water Act (1972), pollution levels have dropped significantly and pollution-related deaths, disease and health costs have dropped correspondingly.

“We still have many regions — including the St. Louis metropolitan area — that do not meet minimum federal requirements for protecting public health and the environment. The lead poisoning tragedy in Flint, Mich., shows that the Environmental Protection Agency must be more active, not less so. Efforts to protect public health under our well-settled environmental laws should continue apace.

“With respect to climate change, we cannot afford to tread water or retrench. Leaders of our armed forces have long recognized the threat that climate change poses to national security. Business leaders highlight the economic risks posed by climate change and the domestic jobs boost associated with clean energy.

“The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risks Report states that ‘a cluster of interconnected environment-related risks — including extreme weather events, climate change and water crises — has consistently featured among the top-ranked global risks for the past seven editions of The Global Risks Report.’

“Climate change is a fact. Pretending to deny it only increases the harm that we will suffer by not working sensibly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes that are already and will soon be upon us. Public opinion — across party lines — strongly supports action to address climate change, including continued U.S. participation in the international Paris Agreement.”

Read more “First 100 Days” messages at Election2016.wustl.edu.

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