what we stand for and what we stand to lose

Corolla Beach, NC

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

I grew up never witnessing a bald eagle in flight—there were barely any left—and now find it amazing that I can walk across a parking lot in the DC suburbs and look up to see one flying overhead. I’m a big city-cum-small town-cum country girl. I was born and lived in Flint, Michigan; we later moved to the country and were surrounded by pastures and farms; and as an adult I’ve lived in San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago and DC. My dad believed in child labor when it came to his own children, so I was fortunate enough to learn about hard work. One summer, we planted 500 white pine seedlings on our property. I realize now that this was a conservation effort on my dad’s part, an attempt to anchor the steep hill upon which our house sat and prevent the soil from sliding into the lake below.

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors, nature, and the environment. Every year, I eliminate the use of some disposable item. 2017 is the year of the reusable straw for my family. I try my best to impart these values to my two teenaged boys. No easy task, let me tell you.

I worry about them—that they are growing up spoiled. Not because of what we buy for them, but because of the tremendous job that past administrations and the EPA have done for our great country. Bald eagles are everywhere now. And we have a pair of foxes who insist on nesting under our garage. No matter how many times we fill the hole to their den, they dig it out. Last year, our neighborhood was treated to five kits.

My children have played in the Atlantic Ocean, canoed on the Shenandoah River, skipped rocks across Yellowstone Lake, and fished and tubed on the Great Wicomico. They have visited Old Faithful and have gone spelunking in Rushmore Caverns. We’ve driven across the country and seen many animals in their natural and free habitats: bears, geese, elk, mule deer, coyotes, moose, and buffalo. They’ve visited the Pacific Northwest, the Continental Divide, the California and Atlantic Coasts, the Southwest and the Florida Gulf. My greatest fear is that they will take the beauty of our nation’s gifts for granted.

It is our job, my husband’s and mine, to teach them about the past so that their children don’t grow up with the catastrophes that peppered the years of our youth: Three Mile Island, the Love Canal, and the East Helena Smelters to name just a few. Experiencing these manmade disasters taught us to respect not only our great country, but also the planet as a whole.

Your job, however, is to protect the intelligent, hardworking, selfless government employees hired by the agency you now administer. Cut the waste where you find it. Reduce the red tape which so plagues our government. But do so with mindfulness. Before you make a decision, remind yourself of that which you were appointed to be: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Ask yourself this: Will this action “protect human health and the environment — air, water, and land”? If your answer is “no,” then please go back to the drawing board. We, as Americans, need you to be better than your predecessors, just as we will expect your successor to be better than you.

Our generation has worked very hard to give our children and your children and everyone else’s children a better quality of life. Cleaner waterways, breathable air, successful regeneration of endangered species, and spectacular federal, state, and county parks and preserves. Let’s make sure that our children are not left with the same burden we inherited from our parents.

Sincerely,

Nicole Elizabeth Kelleher

P.S. Please check out some of the photos of the aforementioned places by clicking this link.

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