Our Legal Battle to Save The World

A Message from CPR Initiative Board President Donn J. Viviani


Dear Friends:

Three years ago, Dan Galpern—our founder, Executive Director and General Counsel—recruited me to the Board of Directors of CPR Initiative. Even in this short time, our planet has inched ever closer to catastrophe. And so we have pressed hard to develop a politically and legally viable path forward to restore and protect the climate to secure our children’s future. 

On this Giving Tuesday, I want to urge you to join me in providing CPR Initiative with your most generous (and tax-deductible) donation. Why now? Why us? Most critically, because we have just sued EPA, igniting a legal battle ultimately to “save the world.”

My time as CPR Initiative Board President follows my 35-year career as a scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During that span, I served, among other things, as director of the Agency’s Climate Policy Assessment Division in the Office of the Administrator.

Our lawsuit seeks to compel EPA to use the most powerful tool Congress devised for protecting ourselves and the environment—namely, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The statute aptly fits the need to broadly address the root cause of dangerous climate change and ocean acidification.

TSCA is a chemical safety act. Greenhouse gases and fossil fuels at current levels and concentrations are the most unsafe chemicals mankind and the environment have ever faced.

In my view, if we can raise sufficient resources to fully prosecute this case, then CPR Initiative v EPA may turn out to be the most important climate and environmental lawsuit. Ever.

As Dan has pointed out in a series of widely-shared video interviews, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v EPA, it is critically important to develop an effective federal climate policy that is based on a secure legal foundation. Right now, we have neither.

Under our June 2022 Citizen’s Petition to EPA to Phase Out Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollution to Restore a Stable and Healthy Climate we demanded that EPA determine that GHGs and fossil fuels pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment, and then commence a rulemaking aimed at eliminating that unreasonable risk. 

Our central demand is simply that EPA to do its job—use TSCA to address the climate and ocean impending catastrophe.

EPA denied our Petition and claimed that it was doing enough already to address the climate crisis. But the Agency’s virtually data-free assertion was entirely untenable—and unacceptable, as I and my fellow Petitioners, including renowned climate scientist James E. Hansen, stated clearly in response.

To demonstrate and further establish the record that far more is required, we held a public hearing in Boulder, Colorado city hall, on November 1, to address the question What More Should the US do on Climate? Twenty experts from Boulder and around the world testified, both in-person and over Zoom. Regrettably, EPA declined our offer to attend; so Dan provided the Agency with all of the information we gathered. You too can check out the full recording here.

On November 7, Dan and his long-time colleague Dave Bahr filed a formal Freedom of Information Act request, demanding “any spreadsheet, analysis, memorandum, document or other communication” in EPA possession supporting the Agency’s assertion that it is doing enough on climate.

Now our Nov. 12, 2022 filing with the federal district court of Oregon seeks to establish both that the Agency and the US Government are not doing nearly enough to protect our nation and the planet from dangerous climate change and that the law requires EPA to impose restrictions on GHG pollution and fossil fuels until the point that they no longer present an unreasonable risk

We are seeking a full judicial hearing on the fundamental question—one that EPA simply avoided: Do GHG emissions and fossil fuels present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment? If the Court answers yes, then it must order EPA to commence rulemaking to remove that unreasonable risk. Just as we demanded with our Petition back in June.

In this way, on behalf of our children and yours, we are moving strongly ahead. But we need your help now more than ever. Please consider making your most generous feasible gift. Your support will resonate in our work, immediately and through the new year.

Yours with high hope for a New Year characterized by aggressive US climate action.

Donn J. Viviani
Board President
CPR Initiative

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