By Jeff Merkley
Our planet is our most precious heritage. If we don’t ensure that our kids inherit clean air and clean water – and if we don’t act to reverse catastrophic climate change – then we have failed as leaders.
Unfortunately, some in the U.S. House of Representatives have tried to undermine our environment by attaching destructive, anti-environment policy riders to the must-pass spending bills that keep the government from shutting down.
As a new member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve fought to invest in, rather than undermine, our environment. And I have some good news: in the compromise spending bill that passed Congress [in late January], we secured renewed support for our Northwest environment, and succeeded in pushing back on several policy riders that could have devastated our air, our water, and our efforts to combat climate change.
One policy would have prevented the EPA from protecting the sources of drinking water of millions of Americans under the Clean Water Act. Another would have dismantled the EPA’s groundbreaking regulation of carbon pollution from power plants – the single biggest step our country has taken toward combating climate change. And numerous times, the House of Representatives has tried to attach riders that would expedite or even require construction of the Keystone Pipeline. If we are to take on global climate change, we must start by rejecting the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels. It is a big victory that we were able to say ‘no’ to those who would undermine our shared environment.
In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, one of the most significant programs to protect and restore our streams and habitat is the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. Unfortunately, some have pushed to aggressively cut funding for this vital program. I and others from the Northwest pushed back, and we succeeded in preventing any cuts.
We still have a lot of work to do to protect our clean air and water and fight back against climate change. But [the January] successes are an important victory in this ongoing battle. Please know I’ll keep fighting for Oregon’s environment, and to leave a better planet to our children.
And by the way, [in January] I joined the newly formed Senate Climate Change Task Force. Stay tuned for updates as we take on new action to wake up Congress to the urgency of acting on climate change.Φ
In terms of energy and energy independence, Senator Merkley, elected in 2008, supports the passage of clean energy legislation to begin the work of replacing the millions of jobs lost in manufacturing and other sectors in recent years, to end our dependence on foreign oil, and to curb the pollution that threatens our children and our environment.