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Clean Air, Safe Communities, and Good Jobs? It's Ours If We Want It

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Throughout history, nearly all of the progress we've made toward a more just and peaceful world has started with seeds of discomfort with the status quo, and a growing sense that a better way is possible. That feeling is what gave birth to the bold, audacious visions that fueled our greatest gains over the past century, from child labor laws to the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, there is a growing dissatisfaction in America, and concerns about our economy and our health and safety are among the biggest sources. More and more of us find ourselves sharing the same fears -- even when our daily lives couldn't be more different. The out-of-work veteran coal miner in Pennsylvania knows the anxiety of the 22-year-old debt-laden college grad who can't find a decent job. Just as the Hurricane Katrina survivor knows the agony and loss of the superstorm Sandy victim.

When times are hard, we're often backed into a corner and forced to make tough decisions. And too often, special interest groups take advantage of this. They create false choices, pitting our concerns about the economy and the environment against one another. They'll say that any job -- even a job that will do irreparable harm to our air and water, or fuel climate change-induced super storms -- is a good job.

As the "us" against "them" debates play out in the media, in Congress, and across the country, the sad outcome is that sometimes the people who know our struggles the best seem to be pitted against us.

It doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to choose between protecting our kids' health and making a living. We need our leaders to set a new course for America's economy. And it has to start with the will to tackle joblessness and climate change. Just like those who came before us, we have a moral obligation to future generations. We have a duty to protect our air and water, and build new pathways to prosperity. We have a responsibility to expand economic opportunity for all Americans -- especially those who've been left farthest behind.

One of the best ways to shift the odds for struggling families and slash pollution at the same time is by expanding clean energy innovation and infrastructure improvements. By doing so, we can create pathways out of poverty, fight climate change, and get America back on its feet. And we have to act now -- we don't have any time to lose. 


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