Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices and consumer choices.
Upper Valley Land Trust
The Upper Valley Land Trust helps people conserve land. We engage people in the vision and process of land conservation and in the stewardship of conserved lands.
U.S. Composting Council
The U.S. Composting Council advances composting and promotes compost use to enhance soils and provide economic and environmental benefits for our members and society.
U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.
U.S. Green Building Council – Central Plains Chapter
To lead the regional transformation of the built environment by promoting ecologically responsible, cost effective, productive and healthy places to live, learn and work.
U.S. Green Building Council – Minnesota Chapter
To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects our health, encourages a fair, sustainable economy and fosters responsive, democratic government.
Utah Moms for Clean Air
Utah Moms for Clean Air uses the power of moms to clean up Utah’s dirty air. In doing so, we are uncompromising defender’s of our children’s health.
Utah Rivers Council
Founded in 1995, the Utah Rivers Council is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation & stewardship of Utah’s rivers, sustainable clean water sources & natural ecosystems for both Utah’s people & wildlife.
Valley Conservation Council
Promoting land use that sustains the farms, forests, open spaces and cultural heritage of the Shenandoah Valley region.
Vermont Natural Resources Council
For over forty years, VNRC has been Vermont’s leader in protecting and restoring our natural resources.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
The mission of Vermont Public Interest Research Group is to promote and protect the health of Vermont’s people, environment and locally-based economy by informing and mobilizing citizens statewide.
Vermont River Conservancy
The Vermont River Conservancy works to permanently conserve and protect special lands along the waters of Vermont.
Virginia Bicycling Federation
The Virginia Bicycling Federation is a statewide organization working to change public policy and community attitudes, to improve the safety, convenience, and acceptance of bicycling.
Virginia Conservation Network
VCN is a coalition of nonprofit and community groups that work together for a cleaner, healthier environment.
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is established to promote the preservation of open-space lands and to encourage private gifts of money, securities, land or other property to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreational areas of the Commonwealth.
Virginia Wilderness Committee
The Virginia Wilderness Committee is a non-profit citizens’ group dedicated to the preservation of Virginia’s natural heritage.
Vote Solar’s mission is to bring solar energy into the mainstream.
Washington Clean Technology Alliance
To secure the state’s position as a leader in clean technologies by supporting businesses to take full advantage of industry opportunities emerging in the region and around the world.
Washington Toxics Coalition
Washington Toxics Coalition protects public health and the environment by eliminating toxic pollution. Washington Toxics Coalition promotes alternatives, advocates policies, empowers communities, and educates people to create a healthy environment.
Washington Trails Association
Washington Trails Association’s mission is to preserve, enhance and promote hiking opportunities in Washington state through collaboration, education, advocacy and volunteer trail maintenance.
Washington Wilderness Coalition
Washington Wilderness Coalition protects and restores wild lands and waters in Washington State through advocacy, education and civic engagement.
Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group dedicated to promoting public funds for parks, habitat and working farms across the state.
Water.org is challenging the traditional approach to assisting people in developing countries. Our goals are to draw attention to the world’s number one health problem, unsafe and inadequate water supplies, and to raise funds to help fight this immense problem – one community at a time.
Water for People
Water For People works to build a world where all people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and where no one suffers or dies from a water- or sanitation-related disease.
Waterkeeper Alliance provides a way for communities to stand up for their right to clean water and for the wise and equitable use of water resources, both locally and globally. The vision of the Waterkeeper movement is for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide.
Waukesha County Environmental Action League
To represent the Waukesha County community for the protection of Waukesha County’s natural resources through dedicated grass-roots participation and action.
Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation
The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation is a local public not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Wawasee area watershed for present and future generations.
Western Environmental Law Center
The Western Environmental Law Center is a non-profit public interest law firm that works to protect and restore western wildlands and advocates for healthy environments on behalf of communities throughout the West.
Western Legacy Alliance
Western Legacy Alliance strives to preserve the working landscapes and lifestyles of the American West. We do this by supporting and promoting sustainable land-use solutions to ensure social and economic benefits for local communities and the nation.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy protects and restores exceptional places to provide our region with clean waters and healthy forests, wildlife and natural areas for the benefit of present and future generations. The Conservancy creates green spaces and gardens, contributing to the vitality of our cities and towns, and preserves Fallingwater, a symbol of people living in harmony with nature.
Western Watersheds Project
The mission of Western Watersheds Project is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and litigation.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society International
Established back in 1987, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and dolphins.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society UK
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and dolphins.
WI Voices, Inc.
WI Voices, Inc. provides a stage for regular people to tell their stories about how they are affected by public policy choices.
Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest
Wild Fish Conservancy seeks to improve conditions for all of the Northwest’s wild fish by conducting important research on wild-fish populations and habitats; advocating for better land-use, harvest, and hatchery management; and developing model restoration projects.
Wild Wilderness believes that America’s public recreation lands are a national treasure that must be financially supported by the American people and held in public ownership as a legacy for present and future generations.
WildEarth Guardians protects and restores wildlife, wild rivers, and wild places in the American West.
The Wilderness Society's mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places.
Widlands Network represents a vast and growing network of ranchers, hunters, anglers, nature lovers, conservation partners and new allies, spanning North America. Together, we are working to protect enough wild places in North America to sustain wildlife and people through the 21st Century.
Wildlife Conservation Society
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.
The Wildlife Trusts
The Wildlife Trusts are the largest UK voluntary organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places everywhere – at land and sea.
Windustrypromotes progressive renewable energy solutions and empowers communities to develop and own wind energy as an environmentally sustainable asset. Through member supported outreach, education and advocacy we work to remove the barriers to broad community ownership of wind energy.
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
The Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC) was founded in 1982 to help counter the lack of information about the effects of large-scale metallic sulfide mining on our state’s precious water supplies, on the tourism and dairy industries, and upon the many Native American communities that are located near potential mine sites.
Wiser.org helps the global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship to connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances.
Women’s Voices for the Earth
Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies.
Worcester Energy Barnraisers
Their mission is:
•To engage in grassroots energy efficiency projects
•To create inclusive community solutions to climate change
•To inspire diverse groups of people to take energy conservation into their own hands
•To promote environmental and social justice by making these opportunities accessible to everyone
World Resources Institute
Their mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations.
World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada)
WWF Canada's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
World Wildlife Fund Global (WWF Global)
WWF Global’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
Worldwatch Institute delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs.
Wyoming Outdoor Council
The mission of the Wyoming Outdoor Council is to protect Wyoming’s environment and quality of life for future generations.
Wyoming Wildlife Federation
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation works for hunters, anglers, and other wildlife enthusiasts to protect and enhance habitat, to perpetuate quality hunting and fishing, to protect citizens’ right to use public lands and waters, and to promote ethical hunting and fishing.
By Katy Neusteter
The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Public Health<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyNDY3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDkxMTkwNn0.pyP14Bg1WvcUvF_xUGgYVu8PS7Lu49Huzc3PXGvATi4/img.jpg?width=980" id="8e577" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1efb3445f5c445e47d5937a72343c012" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3000" data-height="2302" />
Wild and Scenic Merced River, California. Bob Wick / BLM<p>Let's begin with COVID-19. More than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">16 million Americans</a> have contracted the coronavirus and, tragically,<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank"> more than</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">300,000 have died</a> due to the pandemic. While health officials encourage hand-washing to contain the pandemic, at least <a href="https://closethewatergap.org/" target="_blank">2 million Americans</a> are currently living without running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater treatment. Meanwhile, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank">aging water infrastructure is growing increasingly costly for utilities to maintain</a>. That cost is passed along to consumers. The upshot? <a href="https://research.msu.edu/affordable-water-in-us-reaching-a-crisis/" target="_blank">More than 13 million</a> U.S. households regularly face unaffordable water bills — and, thus, the threat of water shutoffs. Without basic access to clean water, families and entire communities are at a higher risk of <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2020/08/05/488705/bridging-water-access-gap-covid-19-relief/" target="_blank">contracting</a> and spreading COVID-19.</p><p>We have a moral duty to ensure that everyone has access to clean water to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last spring, <a href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-explained-bailouts-unemployment-benefits.html" target="_blank">Congress appropriated more than $4 trillion</a> to jumpstart the economy and bring millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Additional federal assistance — desperately needed — will present a historic opportunity to improve our crumbling infrastructure, which has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grossly underfunded for decades</a>.</p><p>A report by my organization, American Rivers, suggests that <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Congress must invest at least $50 billion</a> "to address the urgent water infrastructure needs associated with COVID-19," including the rising cost of water. This initial boost would allow for the replacement and maintenance of sewers, stormwater infrastructure and water supply facilities.</p>
Economic Recovery<p>Investing in water infrastructure and healthy rivers also creates jobs. Consider, for example, that <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y9p6sgnk" target="_blank">every $1 million spent on water infrastructure in the United States generates more than 15 jobs</a> throughout the economy, according to a report by the Value of Water Campaign. Similarly, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyvd2ksp" target="_blank">every "$1 million invested in forest and watershed restoration contracting will generate between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs,</a> depending on the work type," states a working paper released by the Ecosystem Workforce Program, University of Oregon. Healthy rivers also spur tourism and recreation, which many communities rely on for their livelihoods. According to the findings by the Outdoor Industry Association, which have been shared in our report, "Americans participating in watersports and fishing spend over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">$174 billion</a> on gear and trip related expenses. And, the outdoor watersports and fishing economy supports over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">1.5 million jobs nationwide</a>."</p><p>After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress invested in infrastructure to put Americans back to work. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act <a href="https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/25941-clean-water-green-infrastructure-get-major-boost" target="_blank">of 2009 (ARRA) allocated $6 billion</a> for clean water and drinking water infrastructure to decrease unemployment and boost the economy. More specifically, <a href="https://www.conservationnw.org/news-updates/us-reps-push-for-millions-of-restoration-and-resilience-jobs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an analysis of ARRA</a> "showed conservation investments generated 15 to 33 jobs per million dollars," and more than doubled the rate of return, according to a letter written in May 2020 by 79 members of Congress, seeking greater funding for restoration and resilience jobs.</p><p>Today, when considering how to create work for the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10.7 million</a> people who are currently unemployed, Congress should review previous stimulus investments and build on their successes by embracing major investments in water infrastructure and watershed restoration.</p>
Racial Justice<p>American Rivers also recommends that Congress dedicate <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$500 billion for rivers and clean water over the next 10 years</a> — not just for the benefit of our environment and economy, but also to begin to address the United States' history of deeply entrenched racial injustice.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.epa.gov/npdes/sanitary-sewer-overflows-ssos" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">23,000-75,000 sewer overflows</a> that occur each year release up to <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/2020/05/fighting-for-rivers-means-fighting-for-justice/#:~:text=There%20are%20also%2023%2C000%20to%2075%2C000%20sanitary%20sewer,to%20do%20with%20the%20mission%20of%20American%20Rivers." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 billion gallons of toxic sewage</a> <em>every day</em> into rivers and streams. This disproportionately impacts communities of color, because, for generations, Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color have been <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flooding-disproportionately-harms-black-neighborhoods/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relegated</a> to live in flood-prone areas and in neighborhoods that have been intentionally burdened with a lack of development that degrades people's health and quality of life. In some communities of color, incessant flooding due to stormwater surges or <a href="https://www.ajc.com/opinion/opinion-partnering-to-better-manage-our-water/7WQ6SEAQP5E4LGQCEYY5DO334Y/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">combined sewer overflows</a> has gone unmitigated for decades.</p><p>We have historically treated people as separate from rivers and water. We can't do that anymore. Every voice — particularly those of people most directly impacted — must have a loudspeaker and be included in decision-making at the highest levels.</p><p>Accordingly, the new administration must diligently invest in projects at the community level that will improve lives in our country's most marginalized communities. We also must go further to ensure that local leaders have a seat at the decision-making table. To this end, the Biden-Harris administration should restore <a href="https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401#:~:text=Section%20401%20Certification%20The%20Clean%20Water%20Act%20%28CWA%29,the%20United%20States.%20Learn%20more%20about%20401%20certification." target="_blank">Section 401 of the Clean Water Act</a>, which was undermined by the <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/tribes-and-environmental-groups-sue-trump-administration-to-preserve-clean-water-protections#:~:text=Under%20Section%20401%20of%20the%20Clean%20Water%20Act%2C,seeks%20to%20undermine%20that%20authority%20in%20several%20ways%3A" target="_blank">Trump administration's 2020 regulatory changes</a>. This provision gives states and tribes the authority to decide whether major development projects, such as hydropower and oil and gas projects, move forward.</p>
Climate Resilience<p>Of course, the menacing shadow looming over it all? Climate change. <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">More than 100 climate-related catastrophes</a> have pummeled the Earth since the pandemic was declared last spring, including the blitzkrieg of megafires, superstorms and heat waves witnessed during the summer of 2020, directly impacting the lives of more than <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">50 million people globally</a>.</p><p>Water and climate scientist Brad Udall often says, "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQhpj5G0dME" target="_blank">Climate change is water change</a>." In other words, the most obvious and dire impacts of climate change are evidenced in profound changes to our rivers and water resources. You've likely seen it where you live: Floods are more damaging and frequent. Droughts are deeper and longer. Uncertainty is destabilizing industry and lives.</p><p>By galvanizing action for healthy rivers and managing our water resources more effectively, we can insure future generations against the consequences of climate change. First, we must safeguard rivers that are still healthy and free-flowing. Second, we must protect land and property against the ravages of flooding. And finally, we must promote policies and practical solutions that take the science of climate disruption into account when planning for increased flooding, water shortage and habitat disruption.</p><p>Imagine all that rivers do for us. Most of our towns and cities have a river running through them or flowing nearby. Rivers provide clean drinking water, irrigate crops that provide our food, power our homes and businesses, provide wildlife habitat, and are the lifeblood of the places where we enjoy and explore nature, and where we play and nourish our spirits. Healthy watersheds help <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059952" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mitigate</a> climate change, absorbing and reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Healthy rivers and floodplains help communities adapt and build resilience in the face of climate change by improving flood protection and providing water supply and quality benefits. Rivers are the cornerstones of healthy, strong communities.</p><p>The more than <a href="https://archive.epa.gov/water/archive/web/html/index-17.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 million miles</a> of rivers and streams running across our country are a source of great strength and opportunity. When we invest in healthy rivers and clean water, we can improve our lives. When we invest in rivers, we create jobs and strengthen our economy. When we invest in rivers, we invest in our shared future.</p>
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