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Column: On Earth Day Renewing Our Commitment to a Cleaner Environment

To the Valley News
Published: 4/21/2018 10:45:03 PM
Modified: 4/21/2018 10:45:04 PM

We have taken important strides in protecting our environment since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. But in order to protect the scenic views and beautiful natural resources that drive our economy and define us as a place and a people, we must take further action. And we must do it quickly.

Our state’s remarkable natural beauty and resources are already being affected by climate change. Last year, the National Climate Assessment report reinforced what has long been clear: Human activity is the driving force behind our changing climate — and as a result the United States is experiencing more extreme weather events, including dangerous heat, heavier rainfall and more flooding, and larger wildfires.

We’ve seen those effects directly in New Hampshire. This winter in particular we saw our state get pummeled with nor’easter after nor’easter. We are certainly not afraid of a little snow in the Granite State, but this was not normal.

Many people in New Hampshire are concerned about what these stronger and more frequent storms will mean for their families, their homes and their businesses — and are doing great work to be proactive and address these challenges head on. We must help each other adapt to these changes, focusing, for example, on efforts like coastal resiliency to help vulnerable communities prepare by improving our infrastructure, and also by developing resilience strategies to help plan ahead of storms and extreme weather events.

As your senator, I am focused on doing everything I can to protect our environment and curb the devastating impacts of climate change. I have fought to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which ensures that we are safeguarding our natural resources and protecting them for future generations. I am also working to create a national study on net metering, which would highlight how net metering can be successful across our country by allowing our clean energy industry to grow and thrive. And I am standing firm against the consistent efforts of the Trump administration to roll back our environmental protections.

It is deeply concerning that President Trump has been focused on an anti-environment agenda that denies climate change and prioritizes Big Oil companies over the protection of our environment.

Last year, the president recklessly withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, refusing to listen to the informed opinions of environmental and business leaders. As a result, our country is the only nation in the world that does not support this critical agreement.

Leading the dangerous charge for the Trump administration, of course, is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Under Pruitt’s direction, the EPA has rolled back several clean air and clean water protections, and is working to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

While Pruitt has pursued an anti-environment agenda, recent reports have also documented how he has grossly misused taxpayer dollars and has sought special treatment for himself. The American people deserve better, which is why I joined my colleagues in sponsoring a Senate resolution that formally calls for his resignation.

In addition to reversing environmental protections at the EPA, the administration is taking further steps that pose extreme risks to our environment. This includes the irresponsible plan to open up 90 percent of our nation’s coastal waters — including our Seacoast region — to the dangers of offshore drilling.

Granite Staters and people across the nation are calling for action to protect our environment. The actions that this Administration has taken to dismantle critical environmental protections, which exacerbate our climate and environmental challenges, ignore these calls. They are dangerous and irresponsible.

This Earth Day, we must all recommit to staying vigilant against efforts to roll back environmental protections, and to working each day to take proactive steps to protect our treasured earth, air, water, and forests.

We have a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to leave behind a clean environment. I am going to continue working to preserve New Hampshire’s natural resources and ensure that future generations can thrive.

Maggie Hassan represents New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.




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