The Environmental Protection Agency has been under the direction of Scott Pruitt since the new administration was sworn in and he has wasted no time implementing his anti-climate agenda. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently at its lowest funding in almost 40 years, taking up only .3 percent of the total federal budget. As if this wasn’t low enough, the current administration with the endorsement of Scott Pruitt is proposing another 30 percent cut.

Sometimes it is hard to talk about environmental issues because it isn't tangible in the way that civil rights issues are. Some students I have talked to have dubbed it “the invisible problem.” But the fact is these budget cuts do directly affect us, here in our backyard of Athens. One program specifically said to be cut is the Brownfield Clean-Up and Assessment Grant Program. A brownfield is a property that has been turned to wastelands by manufacturing. The EPA works to revitalize these lands and make them once again useful to the community and we don’t have to look far to see this program paying off with the Stateside Technology Park here in Athens. The park is a 23-acre plot that has officially been approved for commercial use after the removal of 82 tons of chemical soil since manufacturing stopped in 2006. As a result of the EPA’s work, this land has been returned to our city. We need the EPA to continue doing good work like this and cutting any funding puts that work at risk.

I was brought up with an understanding of the importance of caring for our planet but struggled to find a way to apply this to my college life until I found Defend Our Future. Defend is a nonprofit, nonpartisan project of the Environmental Defense Fund who seeks to engage millennials on the issue of climate change. Over the last month my fellow interns and I have been talking to students about the importance of their involvement in this fight. We are getting an incredible amount of commits a week from students pledging to call their senators and pressure them to vote no on the proposed upcoming budget cuts.

For all of its problems, America is the richest and most powerful nation on the earth and we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect it. And that fight starts here in Ohio. You all have lots of leverage, your voice and your vote, and it all starts with a simple call.

Georgia Goodell is a sophomore studying English at Ohio University.

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