(re: “Eliot Engel’s real record on the environment in D.C.,” Nov. 28)
The recent piece in The Riverdale Press written by Jennifer Scarlott — a partisan supporter of one of my opponents with an obvious political agenda — paints a grossly inaccurate picture of my environmental record. I am extraordinarily proud of that record, and I want to take this opportunity to share the truth about my work.
The very first newsletter I sent to constituents in early January was “Climate change can not wait.” In it, I said, “There is nothing more pressing than the need for immediate action on climate change.”
“The elimination of greenhouse gas emissions is a massive challenge,” I wrote. “But big problems require bold solutions. By rising to meet that challenge, we can create a new green economy that will propel us in the 21st century. We can create millions of jobs while we invest in a clean energy future for the United States, and become a major exporter of green energy solutions to the rest of the world.”
While I appreciate that folks like Ms. Scarlott are now finally taking the existential threat posed by climate change seriously, they should know this is a fight I have been in for a long time. I have worked in Congress to promote the use of clean fuels in our power sector, championed the development of efficient vehicles and the diversification of fuel sources in our transportation sector, and fought to improve efficiency in our buildings and homes.
As a member of the Safe Climate Caucus, I have authored and successfully passed numerous amendments to appropriations bills that require all new federal vehicles to be alternative fuel vehicles. In the new Democratic-controlled House in 2019, I joined my colleagues as an original co-sponsor of the 2019 Green New Deal revolution and the 100 Percent Clean Economy Act of 2019 — both of which include many of the bold climate-related proposals I have advocated for over the years, including a rapid transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in the United States.
As chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I invited student climate activists from across the globe to testify at a hearing on the global climate crisis. The witnesses included, among others, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old founder of the climate advocacy group Fridays for Future, as well as Vic Barrett, a Westchester native and plaintiff in the case Juliana v. United States, in which students are suing the U.S. government for harming their right to life and liberty by allowing and encouraging activities that contribute to climate change.
Months before that hearing, I moved the Climate Action Now Act through the committee and full House, to keep the United States in the Paris climate agreement.
The transportation sector accounts for the vast majority of oil consumed in the United States, so I have long fought for increased efficiency and greater use of electric and other non-petroleum fuel vehicles. I am co-sponsor of the Clean and Efficient Cars Act to codify both the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation rules from 2012, blocking the current administration from weakening the standards.
I am also co-author of the bipartisan Open Fuel Act, which would require new cars to operate on non-petroleum fuels in addition to, or instead of, petroleum-based fuels.
I will not rest until we end the recurring devastation that our oil addition wreaks upon our planet.
My environmental record extends beyond climate and energy. In 2018, when I served on the conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, I was proud to fight for some of the most important federal policies affecting conservation, including programs that help farmers keep natural habitats intact, and better protect water, soil and biodiversity.
Most recently, I co-led the introduction of the Plastics Act to reduce marine debris and plastic waste in the ocean.
Locally, New York’s 16th Congressional District spans from the Long Island Sound on the east to the Hudson River on the west. I have a long and successful history of fighting for both bodies of water and everything in between. I’ve collaborated with my colleagues to secure funding and pass legislation to restore and protect the Sound, stopped the establishment of new anchorage sites in the Hudson for large barges, and pushed to ensure toxic PCBs in the Hudson are reduced to levels that protect the environmental health of the river, and the health of those living nearby.
In summary, I believe that preserving and promoting clean energy, and preserving our environment for future generations, are among the most important things I can do in Congress. I am proud to have received the endorsement in previous years by the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, and I am also proud of my 100 percent conservation record from the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.
There is more I can point to, but time is ticking. We need to completely overhaul our energy sector, turn to 100 percent renewable sources of energy, and end our addition to fossil fuels.
And we need to do it right now.