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Another View -- Naomi Andrews: Earth's alarm clock is ringing

September 06. 2018 11:37PM

I CARE DEEPLY about protecting the environment for future generations. As the saying goes, “We have not inherited the Earth from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children.” Having hiked all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains, I’m always inspired by the beauty of nature, and enjoy it thoroughly. But I’m worried.

From the devastating California wildfire, the worst in its history, to superstorms and hurricanes ravaging our coastal cities, to rising sea levels, and frequent extreme and volatile weather, the impact of climate change is ever more real and costly. We humans have placed our world at risk.

The Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump have done exactly zero to save our world from the current and even worse destruction that rising global temperatures are bringing. In fact, they have moved us backward by denying science and refusing to take any action, while groveling to their oil and gas industry funders.

National Geographic is keeping a running list of all the environmental policy changes implemented by the Trump administration, and the post is now so long that it’s hard to find the bottom, which is also true of the destructive policies themselves. In his first 100 days, President Trump rolled back 23 important environmental rules.

Among these, he revoked a rule preventing coal mining companies from dumping debris into local streams. He approved both the Dakota and Keystone pipelines (the former had five leaks in 2017 alone, and the latter leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota in November 2017.)

He has also repeatedly made efforts to increase our reliance on coal-fired power, the dirtiest source of energy in our country. He achieved this by ending the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a plan that will allow coal-rich states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia to fill New Hampshire’s air with their fumes.

Last June, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. President Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress are bent on poisoning us, our country, and the Earth. They’re going for corporate profits now, no matter what the consequences to our children and the world.

What we need, and don’t have now, is a smart energy policy that pairs pollution reduction and clean energy technology. As Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter’s former chief of staff, with a decade of experience in congressional legislative processes and national policy, I know how to fight in Congress for sane environmental policies that will reverse these malign policies and provide greater oversight so Americans have safe water, clean air, and fewer, not more, pesticides in our food and our environment.

Over Carol’s four terms, I’ve worked with our team on some important environmental initiatives, most recently on clean water and clean air.

Throughout 2017-18, we have successfully worked to address the dangerous perfluorinated chemical contamination on and around military bases across the U.S. using both legislation and appropriations provisions, and have succeeded in funding a major health impact study that includes Pease Air National Guard Base.

As for clean air, this year we initiated a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation of DOD’s oversight of contractors hired to dispose of conventional munitions at open burning sites in the U.S., which have polluted the air all over the country.

To fight climate change, we must work together to produce clean energy. I’m calling for an Apollo-type program to hasten our progress toward energy independence — a national security priority.

Seeking the best and the brightest, this new program could set energy self-reliance and clean environment goals, and direct its employees to concentrate on innovative research to achieve them. I believe in the power of American ingenuity and innovation, and I know we can do this. It’s long past time to invest in advanced renewable energy technology.

The Department of Defense has stated that climate change is also a national security threat and “may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world” (2010 Quadrennial Defense Review). The military knows this is dangerous, and so do I. Renewable energy and energy efficiency provide the keys to our economic future and our national security.

In Congress, I will make it my mission to fight to preserve our home — the Earth — for our children.

Naomi Andrews, D-Epping, is a candidate in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District.

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