WASHINGTON, DC, April 22, 2105 (ENS) – On its 45th anniversary, Earth Day 2015 has gone mainstream. Across the United States people from all walks of life engaged in enthusiastic actions to protect the planet and voiced dire warnings about the consequences if we fail.

The New York Stock Exchange recognized Earth Day by having Ceres President Mindy Lubber to ring the opening bell.  Based in Boston, Ceres mobilizes a network of investors, companies and public interest groups to build a sustainable global economy.

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Executives and guests of iShares by BlackRock rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in honor of Earth Day. Mindy Lubber is 3rd from left, front row. (Photo courtesy NYSE)

Lubber then traveled to Washington, DC to lead a diverse group of companies to Capitol Hill to tell Congress to act now on climate change.

“These companies, including Kellogg, Unilever, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Nestle, Mars and Owens Corning, believe that reaching a strong global deal on climate change in Paris this December is critical for the long-term stability of their businesses and the overall economy,” said Lubber in an email.

“It’s time for our elected officials to follow their cue and recognize the urgency and economic imperative of tackling climate change,” Lubber wrote.

The four investor groups on climate change have published a guide outlining a range of strategies and solutions investors can use to address climate change, including low carbon investment, managing and reducing carbon exposure in portfolios, and engagement.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, today highlighted the Obama Administration’s leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Thirteen automakers participated in NHTSA’s Advanced Fuel-Efficiency Vehicle Showcase: Audi, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

“President Obama’s leadership on climate change has driven our successes in improving vehicle fuel economy for cars, light trucks, and heavy vehicles,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “By continually pushing the envelope on fuel economy we ensure Americans have more ways to protect our planet, our health and ensure a better future for our children.”

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Congressman Mark Pocan at an anti-fracking rally (Photo courtesy Office of the Congressman)

On Earth Day, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, both Democrats and members of the Safe Climate Caucus, introduced the Protect Our Public Lands Act, H.R. 1902. The legislation is the strongest anti-fracking bill introduced in Congress to date and would ban fracking on public lands.

Pocan said, “It is clear fracking has a detrimental impact on the environment and there are serious safety concerns associated with these type of wells. Until we fully understand the effects, the only way to avoid these risks is to halt fracking entirely.”

“Today is Earth Day, a time to renew our commitment to protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we all call home,” said Schakowsky.

The legislation is endorsed by Food & Water Watch, the American Sustainable Business Council, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity and Progressive Democrats of America.

“Our public lands are a shared national heritage, and shouldn’t be polluted, destroyed, and fracked to enrich the oil and gas industry,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Ironically, the President is speaking in the Everglades today, a unique and fragile ecosystem that is threatened by nearby fracking on public land.”

In the New York State legislature, Senator Phil Boyle, a Republican who is lead sponsor of the Child Safe Products Act said, “I can think of no better way to celebrate Earth Day than to reaffirm my goal of protecting children from toxic chemicals. Despite market advancements and announcements by major retailers, voluntary measures just don’t get us there. It’s up to us, as elected officials, to take action to protect New York’s most vulnerable residents.”

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New York Senate Earth Day Poster Contest District 4 winner by Klaudia Rakowski, 6th Grade, West Babylon Junior High School (Photo courtesy Office of Senator Boyle)

Kathy Curtis, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York said, “Most parents find it shocking that toxic chemicals are routinely added to common, everyday products, even those made for our children. As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, let’s all agree that it’s time to put an end to toxic chemicals in children’s products, and that this is the year to pass the Child Safe Products Act.”

Many environmentalists celebrated their wins and voiced their concerns.

The Pew Charitable Trusts celebrated the Obama Administration for putting must of Alaska’s Bristol Bay off-limits to energy development and creating two new national monuments – the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument that safeguards 350,000 acres near Los Angeles. Pew congratulated Congress for designating seven new wilderness areas.

The Waterkeeper Alliance announced a partnership with His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, a Buddhist spiritual leader with millions of followers across the Himalayas and beyond, to launch a major initiative to protect the waters of the Himalayas, known as the “third pole” because it has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the Polar Regions.

“The Rainforest Action Network’s Earth Day is about saying enough is enough,” said spokesman Brad Schenck.

“I’m asking you to join us in our most important actions to preserve our forests, protect our climate and defend the human rights of frontline communities,” said Schenck.

Schenck listed RAN’s priorities:
* – Ralph Lauren must get deforestation and human rights abuses out of fashion.
* – President Obama must end coal, oil and gas [giveaways?] leases on our public lands and waters.
* – PepsiCo must eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its snack foods.
* – The world’s biggest palm oil traders must enforce an immediate moratorium on the clearance of rainforests and peatlands in the Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
* – The U.S. Export-Import Bank’s must not destroy the Great Barrier Reef through coal financing.

Foundation Earth released an open letter from environmental advocates describing the urgent need for a giant U-turn on native forest loss. They called for a doubling of the native forest canopy on the Earth. They are circulating a petition calling on all people to work together to achieve this goal.

“A powerful reforestation initiative will help achieve the objectives of a steady state, sustainable, true cost economy,” the Foundation Earth letter states. “Meaningful employment can be increased by planting native trees, restoring natural habitats, and removing unneeded roads. Restoring the natural balance of greenhouse gases can foster a healthy society.”

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Organic vegetables (Photo courtesy USDA)

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson today saluted Earth Day on  behalf of family farmers, ranchers and fisherman.

“America’s family farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists, working to preserve and cultivate our natural resources while providing the world with the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply available,” said Johnson. “Earth Day is a celebration of clean air, land and water, and today we salute family agriculture for its contributions to a cleaner environment and sustainable food supply for everyone.”

In Hawaii, The Berry Company, publisher of the Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages, is partnering with schools on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai to launch Think Yellow, Go Green, the company’s annual environmental awareness and recycling campaign. Schools will compete to collect the most outdated telephone directories, which will keep the directories out of landfills through recycling. The schools can win cash prizes.

On the West Coast, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier’s famous solar-powered Ferris wheel celebrates tonight with green patterns and designs in support of Earth Day.

The world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel has 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights that present computer-generated lighting entertainment each evening with 75 percent greater energy savings than most Ferris wheels. The Ferris wheel lifts riders more than 130 feet above the Pacific Ocean for views of the Southern California coast.

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