One of the most effective ways to get your message across is through submitting Letters to the Editor. This is a free way to get our message into local newspapers and in front of thousands of people – not to mention your elected officials who monitor all media in their district.
Below are several draft Letters to the Editor – please feel free to edit and personalize them. These are intended as a starting point and contain key messages, but the more you can add your own style and values to make it more relevant to your state the better. When editing your letter, please be sure to keep it to a single topic and be concise. Maximum length will depend on the newspaper but 150-200 words is always a good rule of thumb.
When submitting your letter, be sure to ALWAYS include your name, phone number, and address. Please be aware that the newspaper may contact you to confirm your identity/authorship of the letter. If they do contact you, they will simply ask to verify you submitted the letter to the editor and are indeed the author.
To submit your letter, all you need to do is go to your local newspaper’s website and find the Submit a Letter to The Editor information. This can usually be found on the “Opinion,” “Letters” or “Contact Us” page. For example, the Missoulian in Montana has a submission page that can be found on their “Letters” page: https://missoulian.com/forms/online_services/letter. In addition, if you can, please submit your letter to any local weekly paper in your area. While more people read the major daily newspapers, weekly papers are often more likely to publish letters to the editor and can be a great way to contact hard to reach individuals.
Please note in the sample letters below the parts that you need to fill out are highlighted in yellow.
We kindly ask that you send the link to your published letter to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample Letter to the Editor 1:
Don’t let Congress shortcut environmental reviews (232 words)
The Giant Sequoia National Monument’s towering trees are among the planet’s most majestic living things, but that hasn’t stopped repeated attempts to clear-cut them for timber.
What did block those ill-advised efforts is a vital law that also protected the Arctic Refuge from development, marine mammals from harmful sonar waves and other natural treasures from an array of threats.
That law is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Now 47 years old, it’s the legal foundation of reasonable, balanced and transparent protections for our environment. NEPA’s value is enormous yet simple: it ensures that those who manage federal projects make the best decisions based on the best information while involving and informing the public. It often provides the only forum for citizens to engage on major federal actions that affect their health, communities and environment.
It’s also under severe attack. The Trump administration and scores of opponents in Congress, often backed by industry donations, have launched assault after assault on NEPA, eager to resurrect a “those in power know best” culture of complacency and secrecy. The latest attack comes in the form of a proposed multi-billion-dollar infrastructure bill that would exempt scores of local projects from any environmental review whatsoever.
Don’t let your voice fall by the wayside. Stand up and protect the National Environmental Policy Act.
Sample Letter to the Editor 2:
Don’t let special interests take your voice away (241 words)
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is our nation’s oldest environmental law. For over 45 years, it has served as the foundation of reasonable transparent protections for our environment.
That hasn’t stopped special interests in Washington from trying to gut it. Over the past six years, over 180 pieces of legislation have been introduced seeking to attack, weaken or waive legal and environmental protections for local communities.
Why are special interests in Washington so intent on destroying it? At its most basic level, NEPA requires project sponsors to engage in an environmental review process intended to discover any significant environmental and public health impacts prior to starting construction. For example, if a local or state government wanted to build a waste incinerator in a residential area, the NEPA environmental review process would likely insist the project be moved elsewhere or not be constructed at all, citing long-term health risks to the local community.
Any law that provides broad opportunities for public participation in government decisions that affect the environment and local communities shouldn’t be rolled back, it should be embraced. NEPA does just that.
NEPA is so empowering for the public and so effective in punishing agency malfeasance, it’s little wonder that industry groups and their friends in Congress want to cripple it. That’s why it’s so important we protect this law.
Sample Letter to the Editor 3:
Local citizens know what’s best for their communities (229 words)
The National Environmental Policy Act is our nation’s oldest environmental law. For over 45 years NEPA has empowered local communities to demand that the federal government make smarter decisions and reinforced the principle that public dollars should be spent wisely with public input.
Unfortunately, Representative/Senator XXX doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. Representative/Senator XXX has repeatedly made the claim that he/she is an avid supporter of small government and that local communities know best.
Why then has he/she time and time again voted to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), thereby limiting public input and transferring decision-making power from local communities to bureaucrats in Washington, DC.
NEPA’s value is enormous yet simple: it ensures that those who manage federal projects make the best decisions based on the best information while involving and informing the public. NEPA is one of the few tools the federal government possesses to help it assess whether proposed infrastructure projects will have unexpected consequences and costs.
NEPA also saves taxpayer money. In in North Carolina, it saved over $685 million dollars on one project alone after the NEPA review process found that improving existing roads rather than constructing a new bypass could meet the project goal of reducing severe congestion.
Without NEPA, the federal government would be able to make decisions without community input. That’s why I urge everyone to stand up for NEPA. The health and voice of our local communities depend on it.
Sample Letter to the Editor 4:
Tell Congress to protect the National Environmental Policy Act (237 words)
The most important and far-reaching conservation law ever enacted is under attack in our nation’s capital. The public has a right to know how and why.
Now over 45 years old, the National Environmental Policy Act – NEPA for short – requires federal, state and local governments to undertake an environmental review intended to discover any potentially significant and harmful impacts to local communities prior to the start of construction. NEPA effectively forces the government to follow the common-sense maxim “look before you leap.”
However, current proposals in Congress would exempt large categories of government activity from the NEPA review process – including 850 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge – as well as limit opportunities for the public to comment on and challenge federal agency decisions.
For example, the “Real I.D. Act of 2005” empowered the Secretary of Homeland security to construct roads and other security measures along the US border without complying with any legal requirements, including both NEPA and the Endangered Species Act. Previous Congressional legislation also waived the NEPA review process for numerous oil and gas activities, all under the deceptive heading of “streamlining” the permitting process.
Industry groups and their friends in Congress want to undermine NEPA because it’s a powerful tool for our communities to exercise their right to participate in important government decisions. We must not let this happen. The health and safety of our communities depend on our ability to speak up.
Sample Letter to the Editor 5:
More than an environmental law (229 words)
For almost 50 years, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has empowered laborers and Latino communities across the United States to fight discrimination and demand better workplace safety.
NEPA’s value is enormous yet simple: it requires state and local project sponsors to engage in an environmental review process intended to identify any major environmental impacts and significant dangers to workplace safety prior to the start of construction. It also provides a forum for citizens to engage and comment on major federal actions that affect their health, communities and environment.
NEPA doesn’t just protect US citizens – it protects everyone. It protects the health and safety of every family and community that stands to be threatened, regardless of citizenship status.
When a new power plant is being developed, NEPA demands appropriate workplace safety. When an immigration detention center is planned, NEPA demands health care for its detainees. When the current Trump administration wants to militarize the border and build a wall, NEPA says not so fast.
More than a quarter of all construction workers in the United States are Latino. Shortcutting environmental reviews doesn’t just cost taxpayer money, it jeopardizes worker safety as well as the health of our local communities.
NEPA isn’t just an environmental protection statute, it’s a critical tool for civic engagement that we cannot afford to lose. We must demand that Congress protect National Environmental Policy Act.