On Earth Day 2021, I’m thinking back to how excited we were to take better care of our environment. The unfortunate truth is that, more than 50 years later, we’ve made progress but still have so much work to do to protect our planet. If we don’t fundamentally change the way we live our daily lives now, the health and economic opportunities for our children and our grandchildren will be seriously impacted. For that very reason, I’ve made climate change one of my top priorities in Congress.
I am optimistic that we finally have leaders in the House, Senate, and White House who are committed to solving the climate crisis. By working together, we have the best chance to keep global warming under the harmful 2-degree Celsius limit. We don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. We can have both.
President Biden’s recently proposed American Jobs Plan will create millions of good jobs to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and make it more climate resilient. Did you know from 2010 to 2020, Maine experienced multiple extreme weather events which cost the state up to $100 million in damages? The President’s plan would invest $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster. Specifically, the plan would increase climate resilience in America’s electric grid; food systems; community health and hospitals; and public transit systems. It also targets investments to support infrastructure in those communities most vulnerable physically and financially to climate-driven disasters, such as Maine’s vital coastal economy.
Mainers feel the effects of climate change when their roads wash out during increasingly intensifying storms, and longer, hotter, drier stretches of weather negatively affect their crops and livestock. As a farmer myself, I know that there are inherent risks in this business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are threatening our nation’s food production and jeopardizing the livelihood of American farmers. Last year, for example, Maine farmers experienced a prolonged and unusually severe drought, the effects of which are still resonating months later in the form of increased feed prices, and lost working capital. We must be proactive to not only keep farmers on the land and in business as they face these challenges, but also to unlock their potential as part of the climate solution.
My recently reintroduced Agriculture Resilience Act is designed as a roadmap to help farmers sequester more carbon in the soil and reduce their overall greenhouse gas emissions. My bill sets the ambitious but achievable goal of zeroing out America’s agricultural emissions by 2040. Unlike other industries, agriculture has a unique opportunity to draw down massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. Farmers just need the tools to do it!
As Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, I am also very engaged in the fight against climate change in Congress by providing the resources needed to invest in the significant preserve the long-term health of our environment. Since the 116th Congress, I’ve been managing a website to help my constituents track the legislative initiatives I support to address the climate emergency we face. The page, which can be found at pingree.house.gov/climatechange, serves as a transparent and easy-to-navigate resource for you to stay updated on my work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote a clean economy, and preserve our natural resources.
With climate deniers out of the White House, the voters gave us a mandate to fight for our planet’s future using data and science to guide us. I will be doing my part every day in Congress to ensure our kids and grandkids inherit a healthy planet.
Happy Earth Day!
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree represents the First District of Maine in Washington, D.C., and lives on North Haven