Taking Action on Climate Change
Climate change is real, it is driven by human activity, and it poses a severe threat to the future of our environment. However, President Trump’s administration has rejected the overwhelming consensus of scientists and abandoned the United States’ previous commitment to combat climate change. The United States is now the only country to have pulled out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. We need to stand up to this President’s attack on the environment and re-assert America’s leadership on climate change.
Regardless of what President Trump says or tweets, the reality is that climate change is already devastating communities. Rising greenhouse gas emissions will continue to exacerbate global warming and raise the risk of extreme weather events. That’s why after President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, I worked with Mayor Walsh to fight back and re-commit Boston to its bold goal of going carbon-neutral by 2050. We must transition to 100% clean energy and do everything we can to leave a healthy planet for the next generation. The benefits of combating climate change are clear: by taking action now, we can help develop the clean energy industries of the future, build resilient electrical grids, and protect air and water quality. My environmental platform focuses on four key components:
- Cutting greenhouse gas emissions
- Supporting the development of renewable energy
- Improving environmental quality and safeguarding natural resources
- Preparing communities for climate change
1. Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We need to invest in the renewable energy industries of the future, but President Trump’s administration has further tipped the scales in favor of the oil, gas, and coal companies. In Congress, I will aggressively work towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. I support:
- Re-committing to the Paris Climate Agreement. We must fight to reverse President Trump’s disastrous decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, in the face of inaction and obstructionism in Washington, we should look to empower local governments and businesses to combat climate change head-on. As Chief of Staff to Mayor Walsh, I was proud to help advance aggressive climate goals. Boston is now on a path to become 100% carbon neutral by 2050, and has consistently led major cities in energy efficiency. It’s not just the right thing to do for our planet, but also for our country’s standing in the international community.
- Implementing the Clean Power Plan. I firmly oppose President Trump’s recent proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is a bold initiative to limit carbon emissions from power plants by up to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently taking public comments on the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, so I encourage people to visit this link and voice your support for limiting carbon emissions.
- Focusing on clean energy, not fossil fuels. President Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 would cut the Department of Energy’s research programs on clean energy by 72% and increase research funding for fossil energy by over 19% compared to President Obama’s administration. These priorities are backwards. Instead of promoting fossil fuels that are damaging to our environment, we should redirect those funds towards clean energy research. We must fight to protect and expand funding for developing cutting-edge clean energy technology.
2. Supporting the Development of Renewable Energy
By investing in renewable energy, we will be able to lower dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, generate job growth, and build a stronger economy for the future. Already, we have seen the incredible economic opportunity that renewable energy offers: since 2008, wind energy production has more than quadrupled, and wind currently accounts for close to 6 percent of the U.S electricity supply. Massachusetts has been a leader in developing renewable energy: there are now over 109,000 clean energy jobs across the state, generating around $11.4 billion in economic development. We have to continue to improve energy efficiency and create new jobs in renewable energy industries. I support:
- Extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind. The PTC has helped spark key improvements to turbine technology and has been instrumental in dramatically lowering the cost of wind production. However, the PTC is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2019. I support renewing the tax credit for at least five years beyond 2019, so that our communities can benefit from a strong wind-energy economy.
- Incentivizing solar energy production. To create solar energy jobs in the Third District, I support extending federal incentives like the Investment Tax Credit that have helped spur solar production. Additionally, I urge the Trump administration to rescind its recent decision to implement a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. These tariffs could result in an estimated loss of over 20,000 jobs in the solar industry, and solar installations could fall by more than 10%.
- Creating a power grid for the 21st century. If we want to fully enjoy the economic benefits of clean energy production, we have to develop a modern power grid that can reliably store renewable energy over the long-term. Wind and solar production can fluctuate greatly on a day-to-day basis, but our power grid currently lacks the flexibility to handle intermittent surges and slow downs in renewable energy production. That’s why I support investing in storage technology, which helps align energy supply and demand. Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allowed electric storage resources to be incorporated into markets operated by regional grid operators like ISO-NE. We need to continue to support policies like this that help integrate renewable energy into the grid. At a state level, Massachusetts created pioneering energy standards that call for renewable energy to account for a specific percentage of our electricity supply. By improving renewable energy storage, we can maximize the effectiveness of this program and make the idea of federal renewable energy standards even more persuasive.
- Improving energy efficiency incentives. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation increased in 2017 and are now the largest source of CO2 pollution. That’s why I support rebates that encourage the use of emission-free vehicles, and I will stand up to President Trump’s proposed cuts to federal incentives for purchasing environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient products. Additionally, I also support incentivizing commercial retrofits and developing energy efficient homes, buildings, and industrial plants. For example, the city of Lowell received $5 million through the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings program to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy costs. Improving energy efficiency will not only help the environment, but it will also substantially lower energy bills for consumers and businesses.
3. Improving Environmental Quality and Safeguarding Natural Resources
Rep. Niki Tsongas helped lead federal efforts to protect and preserve public lands, parks, rivers, and other natural resources. In Congress, I will work to build on Rep. Tsongas’ legacy and make sure that everyone can enjoy the incredible public lands and wildlife of the Third District. We need to maintain wildlife refuges across the district, protect national treasures like the Lowell National Historical Park and the Minute Man National Historical Park, and safeguard the natural beauty of rivers like the Concord, Assabet, Sudbury, Merrimack, and Nashua. I support:
- Standing up to the Trump administration’s reckless deregulation. Under President Trump, the EPA has removed important protections against air and water pollution. Recently, the EPA loosened regulations on the disposal of coal ash waste and toxic heavy metals, which can contaminate waterways and cause serious health problems. Additionally, the EPA eliminated a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions, and overturned previous regulations on hazardous airborne pollutants. In Congress, I will continue to call attention to and fight back against these irresponsible actions.
- Reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) helps conserve public lands and allocates grants to state and local governments to develop environmentally-friendly facilities. Money for the LWCF comes from offshore gas and oil drilling leases and is reinvested in ways to mitigate impacts from fossil fuel extraction. In the Third District, funds from the LWCF have helped support projects like the renovation of Varney Park in Chelmsford. However, despite bipartisan support, funding for the LWCF has not yet been renewed beyond September 2018. Rep. Tsongas played a crucial role in helping to extend the LWCF in 2015, and I will look to build on her successful efforts to protect open space and ensure the preservation of public lands.
- Strengthening funding for redeveloping Brownfields, former industrial sites that threaten to contaminate neighborhoods. I support incentives at a federal and state level for redeveloping Brownfields. In former industrial cities like Fitchburg, Lowell, and Lawrence, funding for Brownfields programs has helped clean up environmental hazards, as well as create public parks and affordable housing.
- Protecting America’s wildlife. I support passing the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which will strengthen conservation efforts and help safeguard vulnerable animal populations. Additionally, I oppose Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s efforts to undermine the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by reducing requirements for energy companies to prevent bird deaths from power lines and oil waste pits.
- Prohibiting offshore drilling for oil and gas. I strongly oppose the Trump administration’s decision to allow offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. Offshore drilling will harm the environment, hurt local industries, and create the risk of an oil spill, especially given that the Trump administration recently repealed safety measures established after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill. Rather than investing in offshore drilling, I support investing in offshore wind and clean energy development.
4. Preparing Communities for Climate Change
Climate change already poses a clear threat to our communities. We need to ensure that the next generation has the necessary knowledge and resources to address the effects of climate change. I support:
- Investing in earth science research. In Congress, I will fight to restore funding to programs that collect observational evidence on climate change. President Trump has proposed eliminating several key NASA initiatives, such as the DSCOVR earth-viewing mission, that collect and analyze earth science data. To put things in perspective, the budget for the DSCOVR program’s earth-viewing instruments was approximately $1.2 million last year; the recently-passed Republican tax bill will add close to $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade. These budget cuts are political, not practical.
- Educating citizens on the impacts of climate change. As Chief of Staff to Mayor Walsh, I worked on Climate Ready Boston, a plan to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change. A core tenet of that plan focused on educating civilians, businesses and building-owners on how they could best adapt to climate change. We need to stand up to the President’s proposed cuts for climate research and invest in programs that educate the public about the impacts of climate change.
- Empowering local communities to take action. We should empower local governments, businesses, schools, and nonprofits to address the impacts of climate change that they see in their own communities. I support initiatives, like the EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program, that help communities enact environmental protections.
- Building climate-resilient infrastructure. We need to build infrastructure that can handle more frequent and more intense natural disasters. That’s why I oppose President Trump’s executive order to eliminate requirements for infrastructure projects to take into account climate change. Moreover, in order to best prepare our communities for the effects of climate change, I also support funding studies of flooding patterns and surveys of natural resources.
President Trump’s administration not only does not believe in climate change, but is also actively turning back the clock on environmental protections. This President’s disastrous policies will cause irreversible damage to our planet and our communities. We must stand up, fight back, and offer a forward looking agenda for how we combat this climate crisis. This policy paper is just a start, but I believe by aggressively pursuing the policies I outlined, we can fight to protect the future of our planet.