"Congress, We Have A Problem"

Earth Day 1996

April 1, 1996

"Congress, We Have A Problem": Foreword by Kenneth A. Cook and Philip E. Clapp

What would Earth Day be like, this year and in years to come, if the 104th Congress had its way?

That may be the most important question Americans could ask themselves on Earth Day 1996. "Congress...We Have a Problem" summarizes a series of state-level reports describing just a few of the things this Congress has in mind for America's air, water, food, land, and wildlife. We think most people will agree that when it comes to the environment, many in Congress are lost in space.

For example, if you're like most people, you probably want fewer cancer causing pesticides in the foods you eat and feed to your kids. If the 104th Congress has its way, we'll have even more carcinogenic pesticides in our diet.

Most Americans believe that when animals and plants are so rare that they are on the verge of disappearing, we should protect them. But Congress has actually barred over 250 species from receiving protection, including the Florida black bear and the U.S. population of jaguars. What's worse, many in Congress are rushing to dismantle the Endangered Species Act altogether. That's the law that saved the American Bald Eagle.

You probably feel that polluters should pay the cost of cleaning up a toxic waste dump that they've left behind in your community. Congress disagrees. "Reform" legislation now pending will let polluters off the hook and make communities pay to clean up toxic dumps--under weaker cleanup standards, to boot.

It makes sense to enforce the environmental laws we already have on the books, right? Many in Congress think otherwise. They've slashed funds for environmental enforcement, pollution research, and community grants to treat contaminated water.

Remember when you could drink a glass of fresh, clean water straight from the tap without worrying about contamination? If the 104th Congress has its way, America will become a nation of bottled water drinkers. Polluters will be allowed to foul tap water sources and water utilities will operate under lax safety standards.

As you read "Congress...We Have a Problem" we think you'll conclude that on issue after issue--from wetlands protection to informing citizens about toxics in their communities, from clean water standards and family planning to clear cut logging on public lands--the 104th Congress has set a course for spaceship Earth that is badly out of touch with the American people. That's the big picture, and it's not a pretty one.