Addressing global climate change should be a non-partisan issue. The data is clear – average ocean temperatures are changing, polar ice is melting, and weather is getting more extreme. The cumulative effects of decades of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions mean that our forests are at greater risk of wildfires, coastal states are more likely to experience powerful hurricanes, and communities in the heartlands will experience more flooding.
New Jersey experienced these impacts first-hand in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy came to our shores and devastated our communities. If we don’t act to address climate change, these storms will only become more frequent and more powerful.
Even our nation’s defense intelligence community agrees – its 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment included warnings about climate change being “likely to fuel competition for our resources, economic distress, and social disruption through 2019 and beyond.”
Our country has the technology to do something about this. Now we have to act.
National Climate Policy
As a Member of Congress, I have been working to address climate change through legislative efforts and the yearly government appropriations process. I have co-sponsored and voted for:
- H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, requiring the President to develop and annually update a plan for the U.S. to meet its contributions to the Paris Climate Agreements. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives on May 2, 2019.
- H.R. 1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, prohibiting the federal government from giving out oil and gas drilling leases to companies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives on September 12, 2019.
- H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, prohibiting the federal government from giving out oil and gas drilling leases to companies in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives on September 12, 2019.
Reducing Emissions in Our Communities
During the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process, I led a letter that was signed by 46 Representatives to the House Appropriations Committee urging more funding for the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalitions program. This program helps cities and municipalities finance the purchase of clean service vehicles – such as police patrol cars and garbage trucks – and install green transportation technology to service them. Organizations in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District have used this program to replace old diesel trash trucks with new clean energy vehicles.
Climate change is a serious issue that has the potential to be devastating to New Jersey, to the entire United States, and to the world as a whole. No reasonable person disputes this fact, and the 2017 hurricane season has demonstrated this urgent need to address it. The 2017 hurricanes killed dozens in the United States and the Caribbean, uprooted hundreds of lives, and wrought billions of dollars in damage. Storms like these, and like the Superstorm that struck New Jersey in 2012, will become more common as the ocean and atmosphere continue to warm.
Over the past ten years, our country has taken great strides in the effort to curb the impact of climate change by enforcing emissions standards at home and by leading the world in planning for a future where we are not all dependent on fossil fuels. In 2015, the world celebrated the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France. This Climate Agreement marked the first coordinated international effort to reduce global carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. The United States joined 194 countries in agreeing to lower its carbon emissions and to assist still-developing nations to transition away from burning fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, President Trump has decided that the United States of America will cede its leadership role in this historic effort to address one of the most important challenges of our generation by withdrawing our commitments from the Paris Climate Accords. This short-sighted and selfish act not only damages our nation’s credibility abroad, but it also endangers the future of our planet for the sake of scoring political points.
Yet there is still hope. States and cities around the country have remained committed to achieving their own emissions reductions plans, and they are being joined by companies that are dedicated to these goals. The international community will also continue working towards the goal of advancing clean technology.
The United States is the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. If we get serious about addressing climate change and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the rest of the world will follow. Congress, as the nation’s legislative arm, has a role to play in this effort and I will continue supporting efforts to restore the American commitment to addressing climate change.
More on Climate Change
This week, I voted to pass the Divided Family Reunification Act, the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act, the Allies Act, and the PFAS Action Act. I also cosponsored legislation to incentivize renewable energy investments, establish a strategy to manage biodiversity loss, raise awareness for black maternal mental health, and streamline access to health care for veterans exposed to burn pits. As Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I led a hearing on the historic protests and repression of free expression in Cuba.
This week, I spoke in solidarity with the Cuban people who are protesting the Castro/Diaz-Canel dictatorship in Cuba, and thanked President Biden for showing the United States’ clear support for democracy on the island. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup and a hearing where I asked USAID Administrator Samantha Power to do all that is possible to advance critical democracy and human rights programming on the island.
This week, I cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to prevent bullying in schools, improve climate literacy, incentivize the use of sustainable fuel, improve housing equity and accessibility, invest in girls’ civic education globally, recognize the contributions of immigrants, and expand the program to provide visas to our Afghan allies as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.
Last week, I reintroduced H.R. 4188, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, with Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). I also voted to pass several important pieces of legislation to make long overdue investments in our infrastructure, establish a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S.
This week, I reintroduced the Collaborative Academic Research Efforts (CARE) for Tourette Syndrome Act to research the cause, prevention, and early detection of Tourette Syndrome. I also joined my colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in passing two vital infrastructure bills out of committee to be taken up by the full House. In addition, I cosponsored a number of bills addressing funding for abandoned oil well cleanup, urban tree planting, and a program to ensure the continuity of health insurance coverage for pregnant and postpartum women and infants.
This week, we witnessed racism and misogyny on display as eight people were senselessly murdered in Atlanta. The rise in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans in the last year follows a disturbing trend and is made worse by the discriminatory language used by leaders in our public spaces. The shooting in Atlanta is the latest violent act perpetrated on innocent victims, and another example that we don’t need of why this country’s gun laws do not keep us safe. We must do better to hold accountable those whose actions and inactions led to this week’s shooting.
This week, I joined a roundtable hosted by Kean University to discuss reaching urban communities with vaccine messages. I signed onto multiple pieces of legislation to overhaul the immigration system in our country, support automatic voter registration, secure more working rights for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, require an aviation preparedness plan for future pandemics, and create a tax credit for individuals who purchase an electric bicycle.
This week, I signed on to a number of bills including ones to provide funding for restaurants, develop an offshore wind workforce, and review and repeal of laws discriminating against individuals with HIV. I also joined letters urging congressional leaders to not narrow income eligibility requirements for stimulus payments, and to begin the offshore wind leasing process in the New York Bight. I also had meetings with Enes Kanter, activist and professional basketball player, and James Rajotte, Alberta, Canada’s Senior Representative to the United States.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to help save public education jobs, protect polar bears and their natural habitat, and develop and protect outdoor parks. I also cosponsored legislation to expand access to high quality apprenticeship programs across the country. I signed onto letters opposing the expansion of the global gag rule and urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reverse their guidance on eviction moratoriums.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to crack down on wildlife markets, which are harmful to animals and can contribute to the outbreak of pandemics. I also signed onto legislation to increase the standard of care at nursing homes, help communities transition to clean power grids, and protect press freedom. I also led a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging them to issue an emergency rule on face masks for air travel.