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Noticeably Absent from Convention Speeches: Public Health and the Environment


By Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director

Like many of you, I’ve spent time watching political
speeches at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. And while this
time of year many Americans do everything they can to avoid watching
politicians make stump speeches, I find it a good litmus test on what issues
politicians think resonate with the American public.

While there have been some powerful speeches from both
parties, the issues of protecting public health and the environment came up
little, if ever. It was disappointing to watch speech after speech where there
was little talk about issues many Americans care about: keeping our drinking
water clean, promoting a safe and health food system, addressing the
environmental links to rising health care costs.

I can only think that politicians didn’t talk about
protecting public health and the environment because they didn’t think it was
politically beneficial to do so. How disappointing.

The problem is we’re smarter
than they think. We understand that fixing our broken economy should be
priority number one, but we also understand that we need: a healthy workforce to take new jobs, emerging sectors can come from solving environmental health
problems and that crippling health care costs can be prevented by addressing the environmental
links to negative health trends. 

So how do we get politicians to talk about these issues
while they’re on the campaign trail this fall?

Here are a few simple tips to let candidates know you care
about protections to the environment and public health:

  • Send both
    candidates an email
    telling them you care about protecting public health
    and the environment.
  • Call both
    campaign offices and ask where they stand on these issues.
  • When
    candidates knock on your door
    , ask them where they stand on toxic chemical
    regulation and other issues that are important to you.
  • When
    attending debates, pose a question from the floor
    asking both candidates to
    state their support for increased regulations on toxic chemicals in consumer
    products and the workplace.
  • Write
    local media outlets
    asking them to write about important environmental
    health issues.
  • Write a
    letter to the editor to your local newspaper
    calling on candidates to
    support protections from toxic chemicals. Tips for
    writing a letter can be found here.

Talking about the “environment” or public health protections
doesn’t make you a tree hugger, we’re way beyond that. Voters from all
political parties understand that the right to breathe clean air and drink tap
water free of toxic chemicals is something we expect in this country.

We understand that improving health in this country has just
as much to do with regulating toxic chemicals as it does addressing the
insurance companies.

We’ve had extensive
done on the issue of toxic chemical regulation. After seven rounds
of polling from the nations leading Democratic and Republican polling firms,
all have confirmed that Americans get this issue and deeply care about it.

Our issue is so strong that voters are willing to vote
against their party to support a candidate that votes to regulate toxic chemicals.
If that isn’t good news, I’m not sure what is. We started momentum this summer
when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the SafeChemicals Act. We’re hoping the Senate will take this important bill up on
the floor this fall.

Please join us in urging
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the Safe
Chemicals Act
to a vote this fall!