Just ahead of Earth Day, two dozen Pittsburgh nonprofit CEOs are calling on residents to lobby against a rollback of environmental laws at the federal level.
President Donald Trump has proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, as well as eliminating the clean power plan.
Vivien Li, CEO of Riverlife, a Pittsburgh nonprofit working to maintain and develop the city's river fronts, said government officials lack the understanding of the impact those cuts could have.
“Whether it’s water quality issues or air quality, or open space issues, those are issues that need the support of all levels of government,” she said.
She added that the community has to plan on behalf of future generations.
“We must plan for a future in which climate change will have a direct impact on every man, woman and child, regardless of income, race or residence," she said.
In preparation for Earth Day this Saturday, the leaders also urged residents to call their lawmakers or volunteer with a nonprofit already working toward environmental protection.
Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, CEO of Women for a Healthy Environment, said she thinks it’s important to continue focusing on grassroots efforts and attend local government meetings.
“It’s so important for our elected officials to hear about the important priorities of the citizens of this region,” she said.
The leaders said the combination of the region’s history with pollution and the threatened cuts means the city is at a critical moment when the public must be part of the push for environmental protection.
Quincy Kofi Swatson, executive director of the Door Campaign, a nonprofit pushing for equal opportunities for young black men, echoed that sentiment.
“If our elected officials do not hear from us, their constituents, they will not fight for you. They will assume that no one cares about injustices you’ve experienced,” he said.
The CEOs have collaborated on a website, ceosforearthday.org, that lists ways residents can take action including writing and calling elected officials. Earth Day is Saturday, April 22.