We Need Action On Climate Change Now
Climate change is increasingly becoming a more serious problem. According to a recent report from the non-partisan Government Accounting Office (GAO), the federal government has spent approximately $350 billion during the last ten years responding to extreme weather events — which are made worse by climate change. According to the GAO: “Climate change impacts are already costing the federal government money, and these costs will likely increase over time as the climate continues to change… The impacts and costs of extreme events — such as floods, drought and other events — will increase in significance as what are considered rare events become more common and intense because of climate change.”
During the Obama Administration, the U.S. and the rest of the world actually began to make significant progress in fighting climate change. The Obama Administration implemented a series of policies that reduced carbon dioxide emissions through a series of legislative and regulatory actions. The 2009 Recovery Act invested $90 billion in renewable energy which doubled the production of wind power and sextupled the production of solar power.
On the regulatory front, the Obama Administration announced more ambitious standards for gas mileage in cars, fuel cleanliness, energy efficiency in appliances and the emissions from new power plants. Perhaps the most ambitious domestic initiative of all was the Clean Power Plan, which required states to limit its power plant emissions. Unfortunately, the Clean Power Plan was blocked by the federal courts and the Trump Administration has begun steps to repeal the plan.
The cornerstone of the previous Administration’s effort to get serious about climate change was the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, in which over 200 countries pledged to reduce the emission of green house gases. This was an especially significant accomplishment since President Obama convinced China and India to sign this landmark treaty.
Since he took office, Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from this agreement. In doing so, the U.S is in some pretty dubious company. The only other country that isn’t a party to the Paris Climate Accord is Syria. The rationale advanced by the current Administration for being in league with a rogue state like Syria is that the Paris Climate Accord will allegedly hurt the U.S. economy.
In pursuing its misguided environmental policies, the Trump Administration is setting up a false choice. The U.S. doesn’t have to choose between expanding the economy and reducing green house emissions. We can achieve both goals at the same time. As was recently reported on the New Republic website: “ Solar power is the fastest growing source of new energy worldwide, and the trend is expected to continue. The renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive than the fossil fuel industry, meaning that “more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The International Renewable Energy Agency has said doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix would increase the global GDP in 2030 by $1.3 trillion. Stabilizing the climate would also provide significant economic benefit — billions of dollars saved from lessening the severity of extreme weather and sea level rise, as well as billions more from the avoided health impacts of a warmer, more polluted atmosphere.”
On environmental issues, Jeff Fortenberry (and the other members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation) have been on the side of the Trump Administration and the fossil fuels industry. (Fortenberry votes with Trump 98% of the time.) Fortenberry has voted to support the Keystone pipeline and against efforts to fight climate change. Fortenberry has a lifetime voting record of 18% from the League of Conservation Voters.
Most scientists and Americans believe that climate change is man made and a serious threat to our future. I would urge that the U.S. re-join the family of nations and once again resume compliance with the Paris Climate Accord. In addition, I would recommend to the new Democratic majority in the House that they pass legislation establishing a Green New Deal. Let’s show the voters what we will do if we are returned to power in 2020.