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
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.
This week, the House was in session in Washington, D.C. to extend funding of the federal government. The House also voted on legislation to protect benefits for veterans, condemn the forced labor of Uyghurs in China, and reinvigorate our economy with more clean jobs and innovation. I attended hearings focused on Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
Last week, the country mourned the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Friday evening. Her groundbreaking leadership on the court, coupled with her fierce dedication to advancing women’s rights and striving for equality for all will leave a positive mark on this country for generations to come. The House was also back in session and I was in Washington, D.C. to vote on important legislation to reauthorize and improve small business programs.
This week, I participated in virtual hearings for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Budget Committee, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I also signed onto legislation to help ensure the short and long-term accessibility, safety, and affordability of housing. Additionally, I signed onto letters to promote clean air in communities across the country, extend the payroll support program, and to direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during our current public health emergency.
This week, I traveled back to Washington D.C. to vote for important legislation to expand access and affordability to healthcare, provide housing and rental relief to homeowners and renters, and upgrade our country’s infrastructure. I also chaired a Western Hemisphere hearing on the Administration’s response to COVID-19 in Latin America, and attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Hong Kong.
This week, the 116th Congress enters its second session and we will continue to build on the work we did in the first session. Over the last year, I have introduced and cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation, sent letters to government agencies and congressional committees, and attended hearings and conducted oversight through my work as a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Budget Committee.
(Washington, D.C.) - Earlier this week, the House passed 2 funding packages that averted another painful holiday shutdown. While the packages were not perfect, they funded vital programs that will help Americans across the country and include landmark funding for essential initiatives.
(Washington, D.C) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement following his co-sponsorship of H.R. 5221, the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA):