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Environmentalism 101:Contacting our Elected Officials

In a democratic society each person has a right to voice their suggestions and opinions in a polite way. Each voice is important whether you write to your mayor, your state representative or your U.S congressional representatives. Some tips for coming up with an idea plus a website with tips for writing to elected officials.

What environmental issue in your community worries you the most?

Are you particularly anxious about a national environmental problem or even one that might affect the whole world?

When you have a concern about the environment it is important to let someone know that can help solve the problem.  You may want to write a letter to the editor or write a letter to an elected official.

I found a great link to use for beginning or experienced letter writers.  The link is titled “How to Write Letters to Congress”   It contains good tips that can just as well be used when writing to an editor.

Useful embedded links lead easily to necessary addresses and the proper number or title of laws.

One page letters are best.  A short concise letter is more likely to be read thoroughly and is much easier to handle in an office without losing any pages. 

“How to Write Letters to Congress” suggests an excellent plan for a three paragraph letter.

In the first paragraphexplain your concern or subject.  Briefly explain who you are.

The second paragraph allows for more detail to be presented in a calm and professional manner.  Below are examples of environmental issues that I particularly worry about.  I could use each as my second paragraph in separate letters.

The third paragraph is very important.  Many concerned citizens and activists are so worried, anxious or angry about the subject they completely miss the point of writing a letter:  to ask the elected official to take a particular action or make a particular vote.At this point add a suggestion as to how you would like to see the problem solved, the policy addressed, or the vote given.

Here are two other good tips.

(1)  “When writing members of the U.S. Congress, it is usually best to write only to the Representatives and Senators from your district or state. Mass-mailings to all Members of Congress rarely have much impact.”

(2) “Each letter should address a single topic or issue.”

“How to Write Letters to Elected Officials”

Remember if an environmental issue is important to you it’s important to someone else.

Not everyone has the opportunity to write a letter to an elected official due to lack of time or even illiteracy. 

Writing a letter to the editor or an elected official is an important way to contribute to the democratic process.

Several examples of “second paragraphs” based on issues important to me.

     We have too few green spaces in our neighborhood.  Green spaces are needed to buffer noise from roads, give us a place to chat with our neighbors and a safe area to play with our children.   Green spaces with many trees are important to help clean our atmosphere and anchor the soil so the soil won’t wash away in rain.

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My mother lives in a trailer park on the Midwestern plains.  Tornado Alley is experiencing several tornadoes at a time; tornadoes and strong winds can be devastating to a trailer park.  When she moved into her trailer she was promised a safe shelter would be built to protect the residents from tornadoes.  The shelter was never built.

       Nuclear power may be chosen as a source of energy for a “bridge” into the use of sustainable energy.   All citizens will need instruments (such as a Geiger counter) to measure radioactivity.  Illnesses of workers in the industry have been widely reported.  The ability to take measurements will allow each person to be responsible for the amount of risk they are willing to take before entering certain areas. 

      Nuclear energy has not been a profitable nor efficient producer of power.  So it seems that subsidies and grants from tax revenues will continue to be necessary.  Transparency is needed from the corporations running nuclear power plants.

      The environmental impact of military activities must be taken into account when reviewing military strategies.  The safety of the soldiers in the field and that of noncombatants in the area depends upon knowledge such as gasses or powders which may be poisonous.  I remember the billowing black smoke in the first Persian Gulf War when the burning of oil fields created shocking amounts of air pollution.


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