The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, marked the beginning of our collective realization that we are facing an environmental crisis and that we must fight to protect our planet.
Over the next 52 years, the environmental movement has achieved a lot – from the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency to the Clean Water Act – but when it comes to reducing the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels, we are still far, far behind where we need to be.
This month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said we must immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the catastrophic impacts of rising the sea, forest fires, drought and other natural disasters to ravage our planet. If we don’t act now, this goal will be “impossible”.
In addition to the devastating effects the climate crisis will have on biodiversity, agriculture and our way of life, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently reported that the increase and worsening of flooding, drought and wildfires could cost taxpayers $2 trillion a year. end of this century.
Simply put: it will cost us more to not act on the climate now.
These two reports clearly show that we have work to do. However, we also have a lot to celebrate this Earth Day thanks to Congressional Democrats and President Biden.
After four years of a president who actively hindered our ability to mitigate the climate crisis — even censoring those same words from government websites — the United States has recommitted itself to the fight. Biden’s first action after taking office was to join the Paris Agreement, reaffirming America’s leadership role in the global cause. Now the nation must make up for lost time and set an example for other nations that have committed to reducing their emissions.
In the fall, Biden and House Democrats made the largest investment in U.S. infrastructure since building the interstate highway system. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has made historic investments to fight climate change, reduce emissions and eliminate environmental risks, including:
· $234 million over five years for Maine to improve public transit options across the state;
· $7.5 billion to build the first-ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations in the United States, including $19 million for Maine;
· $10 million over five years for Maine to protect against wildfires;
· $3.5 billion in weatherization to reduce energy costs for families;
· $15 billion, including $390 million for Maine, to improve water infrastructure by replacing lead pipes, ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities;
· $15 billion to permanently address chemical and PFAS contamination; and
· $5 billion for zero-emission school buses and low-carbon ferries.
These are just a few of the ways Biden’s Infrastructure Act is helping states like Maine make our infrastructure and our economy more climate-resilient.
As chair of the House Appropriations Interior & Environment subcommittee, I prioritized climate mitigation investments in Biden’s recently signed 2022 spending bill. The funding bill I drafted provides unprecedented funding to the EPA and the Department of the Interior, dedicates resources to the nation’s first-ever civilian Climate Corps, promotes the growth of green jobs, and provides more resources than ever before to protect, conserve and restore our country’s forests. . Additionally, I proudly secured nearly a million dollars to help implement the Maine Climate Action Plan at the University of Maine.
With these landmark bills signed into law, federal funds are already flowing to states to implement these climate-smart projects. And I’m already looking towards 2023.
Every five years, Congress begins work on a new Farm Bill, which is the primary tool of federal food and agriculture policy. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I will fight to ensure that farmers – who are on the front lines of the climate crisis – have a seat at the table as we craft the 2023 Farm Bill. Encouraging carbon sequestration, sustainable farming practices and reducing food waste, the 2023 Farm Bill can put us on the path to achieving net zero agricultural emissions by 2040 or sooner.
While there is so much more that can be done to stop the climate crisis, this Earth Day I am grateful that the Democratic Congress has a partner in Biden and his administration to prioritize the fight against climate change through investments that will reduce greenhouse gases. No one can sit still in this urgent fight – no corporations, governments, leaders. We can do it, but we must act now.
Beat the mouse, spare the child