Make Earth Day Great Again

Congressman Gerry Connolly
2017-04-22 08:31:52
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Make Earth Day Great Again

Dear Neighbor,

As we celebrate Earth Day our country stands at a critical crossroads. Will we continue to lead on global climate change and move towards the 21st-century clean energy economy or will we retreat?

We have come a long way since the first celebration nearly a half century ago. In the aftermath of marches in cities across the country, Republicans and Democrats came together to create the Environmental Protection Agency to protect public health and safety. Bedrock environmental legislation like the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and subsequent amendments, were adopted to provide safeguards that protect our communities.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, we laid the groundwork for the American renaissance on clean energy economy. We extended solar and wind tax credits and made permanent the conservation tax credit. Today, solar and wind industries are booming. A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund found that jobs in these two sectors are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. And according to the Department of Energy’s 2017 Energy and Employment Report, the solar industry now employs more workers than coal, oil, and gas combined.

Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which made historic investments in research and development, weatherization and clean energy technologies. As a result, we’ve made advancements in energy efficiency, advanced manufacturing and battery storage. And thanks to programs like ARPA-E and EERE, we are developing the technologies of tomorrow. Federal policies like the Clean Power Plan will drive progress here at home, and international agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement ensure that the rest of the world is coming along with us.

As co-chair of the House Green Dogs – the largest environmental caucus in Congress - I am committed to building on our progress.

President Trump vowed to “Make America Great Again,” but his recent attacks on science and unilateral retreat on climate action will do just the opposite. He's filling his administration with climate-deniers. His budget would slash funding for the EPA by 31% and eliminate the Chesapeake Bay program, NOAA climate research, ARPA-E and weatherization programs. He's promised to roll back the Clean Power Plan and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. None of this will "Make America Great Again."

Just as we did 47 years ago, America finds itself at a tipping point. Clean energy is no longer just an alternative, it is our future. Climate change isn’t going to disappear, it’s already here. The global market, including China, is not going to wait for American leadership.

What the Trump administration has proposed will not make us stronger or more secure. We should embrace the economic growth and job creation that has resulted from American innovation and clean energy deployment. We need science-based public policy, not a retreat to political-based beliefs when it comes to climate change and alternative energy investments. That’s the path to Making America - and Earth Day - Great Again.

Sincerely,

Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
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