Don’t Stop Tweeting!
It had been a normal day at the Clean Water Network—interns were glued to policy research on their computers, running errands in the Senate office buildings and listening in on conference calls, all while working on the Network’s Twitter campaign to #kickcoalash from the Transportation Bill.
Everything was going as planned until something went terribly wrong: The Internet crashed! The other interns and I remained calm at first; however, after countless minutes of trying to repair the situation, we ended up in a tangled mess of wires, forced to come to terms with the alarming conclusion that the Internet was not coming back anytime soon.
In the midst of this Internet meltdown, a hazy storm cloud of uncertainty, frustration and helplessness settled in. My co-interns and I had been tweeting about the need to #ProtectCleanWater in an effort to rid the Transportation Bill of dirty coal ash riders. The House version of this “Freedom to Dump” amendment would essentially block the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over coal ash disposal. Coal ash is the waste product of burning coal, and it contains a plethora of filthy toxins such as mercury and arsenic, which can have serious health ramifications. In fact, the cancer risk from drinking coal ash-contaminated water is 1 in 50! If this amendment remained in the final version of the Transportation Bill, then the public health and safety of thousands of communities would be endangered, not to mention it would be “game over” for the EPA to ever revisit the coal ash rule, no matter how high the toxicity levels get.
With the vote quickly approaching, we knew the Twitter campaign must go on. We headed home to continue tweeting. The following day I traveled to my new satellite office (the Starbucks down the road), with my laptop in hand and hash tags prepared in my head: The campaign continued.
About a week later, we stand triumphant: The Internet has been restored to 218 D Street SE, and more important, the Senate voted to keep the coal ash riders out of the Transportation bill! So I guess this goes to show that even if the Internet is down, find a way to keep campaigning!
Haley Orlofsky is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. She is interning at Clean Water Network.
Photo above right courtesy of the Southern Environmental Law Center.