Brian Reyes is a climate and sustainability analyst working for the San Francisco Department of the Environment, a job he finds deeply meaningful.
“We are making an impact not just locally, but at the state and national level as well,” he says.
The work his department does is science-driven and depends on good data. He is concerned about the administration’s stance on the environment and on science. “Science is telling us that climate change is a problem,” he says. Despite the evidence, colleagues around the country will lose funding, hindering their ability to come to conclusions and effectively serve the public when it comes to addressing the impacts from climate change because of the emerging dictates of the new administration. To date, that has included things like deleting datasets about the environment from national databases, pausing regulations that limit the dumping of toxic metals (like mercury) into public waterways, a proposal to make massive cuts to the EPA’s and Department of Energy’s budgets, and a whole host of anti-environmental actions and anti-climate change rhetoric taken by the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt.
These moves, says Reyes, will mean there is more pressure on his department to fill in the gaps from San Francisco departments and other local governments. Scientists around the country share data to make progress in their research. With datasets coming down, and funding slashed, departments like Reyes’ in San Francisco may survive better than most and will be looked on to step up. “San Francisco was already a place other researchers looked to for leadership, and now we will have to go even further,” he reports.
Reyes also sees the work he does as being in fundamental conflict with the values of the majority party. “We are charged with protecting the public, that is our unifying mission,” Reyes says. “Our values are to advocate for clean water and air, protection against toxins in the environment, and so on. It’s my opinion that what the administration is doing is for special interests, and not for the people we are charged to serve.”
In his personal life, Reyes has decided that he is not going to sit back and accept things as they are, instead; he is going to meet them head on. That’s why Reyes will be marching with Local 21 on April 22 to stand up for science and to celebrate Earth Day. He supports the Local 21 Resistance Program and says that the union should definitely be a part of what he sees as a necessary shift towards interconnectedness in resistance politics.
“We can’t be effective if we stay in our separate issue silos,” says Reyes. “We have to come together and take action.”
Click here to register for the March for Science with L21 this Saturday!
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Read the other April 2017 Cityline articles below: