By Marissa Luna
Today is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day – happy Earth Day!
On this day in 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and public spaces to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive rallies across the country. Earth Day 1970 enlisted support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, big businesses and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts (crafted by Michigan’s own John Dingell), which continue to help keep our air and water clean, and protect the biodiversity that keeps our earth thriving.
Earth Day continues to remind us that we’ve only got one planet and that we’ve got to work together to protect it. That doesn’t just mean that you should recycle or turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth, although you should definitely do those things. It also means that we’ve got to hold the biggest polluters — like DTE Energy to name just one — accountable for cleaning up their pollution, which has a much bigger impact than spending 30 extra seconds in the shower.
Residents of Detroit, River Rouge, and other Downriver communities have been fighting back to stop DTE from polluting their communities. Our elected leaders have been working to build a sustainable, clean energy economy by requiring that utilities increase their use of clean, renewable energy…well, some of our elected leaders that is.
We’re at a turning point in our state. The decisions we make about where we’ll get the energy to power our homes and businesses in the coming months, whether it’s through clean wind and solar power or continuing to rely on dirty and outdated fossil fuels like natural gas and coal, will have huge impacts on our lives and the lives of every generation of Michiganders that come after us.
In the wise words of Anat Shenker-Osorio, “Environmental health and sustainability aren’t an optional footnote. There is no economy, or any you and me, without an inhabitable planet.”
This Earth Day, our elected leaders are preparing to make fundamental choices over whether they’ll keep our Great Lakes, our air, and our drinking water clean or side with corporate polluters who are sacrificing our planet for short-term profit. Let’s choose to build a sustainable economy so that we can leave those who will come after us a safe and healthy planet.