Climate Crisis and the Environment
The sustainable America I will fight for is one where the 4th District leads the way, where the seas do not flood the South Coast, where Fall River is the national leader in offshore Atlantic wind, where workers graduate debt-free from Bristol Community College and are compensated fairly for their work in the clean energy economy, where our cities and towns become more walkable and less congested with vehicle traffic, where we recognize there is no justice without climate justice, where renewable energy and pristine open spaces are abundant and pollution is scarce, where the interests of everyday people are put before the profits of big corporations.
This fight is not new for me. When I was a 4th grade public school teacher in the South Bronx, I saw environmental racism up close. Half of my students had asthma because of the high rates of air pollution. Their families lived in a “food desert” without access to fresh produce. I went into politics, and worked on nation-leading climate initiatives with Governor Deval Patrick. As a Presidential Speechwriter in the Obama White House, I saw the Paris Climate Accords hammered out. And in the office of Attorney General Maura Healey, we took on ExxonMobil, sued the Trump EPA to protect environmental regulations, and stopped the entire Atlantic coast from being opened to offshore oil drilling. At this moment of crisis, I will take this fight to Congress — and win it.
Pass the Green New Deal to reinvent energy production and transportation in Massachusetts
Crack down on the fossil fuel lobby and hold polluters accountable
Create a sustainable food system that protects precious natural resources
Prioritize environmental justice for those most affected by climate issues
Increase our resilience to climate change
Americans like the Green New Deal. Voting for it is one of the first actions I will take as your member of Congress. I support the Green New Deal and will work tirelessly to enact legislation to get us to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The United Nations says that we may have only twelve years to fix the climate crisis, yet the Trump Administration still scoffs at innovative solutions like the Green New Deal and appoints coal lobbyists to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s the good news: this country is with us. Two-thirds of Americans want to address climate change. A majority believes the issue should be a top priority for Congress.
A Green New Deal to decarbonize our infrastructure:
First, the Green New Deal must tax carbon to create an economic incentive for corporations to cut down on pollution, design more efficient manufacturing processes, and rely on renewable energy.
Second, we must decarbonize existing infrastructure and other infrastructure in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts alone, vehicle transport makes up around 40% of all emissions, and this figure is projected to increase over the coming decade. I propose to decarbonize transportation by reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled, stricter vehicle emissions standards so that we can move toward a 100% electric vehicle fleet, and for smart tolling to reduce traffic congestion.
In order to decarbonize existing public transit infrastructure, I support initiatives to electrify the MBTA and commuter rail, electrify buses and build dedicated bus lanes, and build stronger Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to make regional travel convenient, clean, and affordable.
Finally, we must retrofit our buildings to fully decarbonize. Buildings emit even more greenhouse gases than transportation does, accounting for 40% of emissions nationwide. As a member of Congress, I will work tirelessly to improve emissions standards for new buildings and require that all new projects complete environmental mitigation plans, not just environmental assessments, before breaking ground.
A Green New Deal to reinvest in a green economy and create new jobs:
The Green New Deal must invest in a green energy economy and create jobs.
The Fourth District of Massachusetts is the best place in the country to build a green energy economy. The expansion of South Coast rail will connect workers and industry in the southern part of the district to cutting-edge research in Boston. In Fall River, we have the second deepest port in New England, which could serve as a jumping off point for offshore wind. Brayton Point in Somerset, located right on the water, offers a perfect industrial center for the manufacture of offshore wind technology. And finally, with higher education institutions like Bristol Community College right in Fall River, we have the infrastructure to train the next generation of highly-skilled, highly-paid, and unionized wind energy technicians. We have what we need to lead the world in this sector. Now, we need leaders in Congress who are prepared to step into the future.
The Green New Deal offers the best chance in this generation to reinvigorate unions, return high-paying jobs to the regions that need it most. Today, there are only about 55,000 coal jobs left in the United States, and there are already over 100,000 clean energy jobs in Massachusetts alone. When we pass the Green New Deal, there will be no shortage of work to be done. For those out of work or looking for new opportunities, the Green New Deal will serve as a federal job guarantee.
When I worked with Maura Healey in the Attorney General’s office, we investigated ExxonMobil for lying to the American people about the risks of climate change. I saw firsthand how the big oil companies bought off members of Congress through their lobbying and backroom deals. As your member of Congress, I’m ready on day one to take on this industry because I already have.
First, we must ensure that the only force behind legislation is the public interest. Last election cycle, the fossil fuel industry spent nearly $360 million on campaign contributions and lobbying. It is no surprise then that President Trump’s first Secretary of State was a former CEO of ExxonMobil, and his current EPA Administrator is a former coal lobbyist. President Trump and his fossil fuel cabinet have pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, lifted emissions regulations, provided subsidies to the coal industry, and helped eliminate clean energy tax credits. The industry’s outsized influence in government is apparent, and it is putting all of us in danger.
That is why I will push for stronger regulations on former government employees’ lobbying activities, including a lifetime lobbying ban for members of Congress. This is vital to ensure that we can enact effective, sweeping legislation that will address this crisis and ensure that the interests of the American people are the only guiding factors in Congress’ decision making. Ridding our government of the interests of fossil fuel companies will allow us to make laws that the industry has fought for decades.
First, we need to connect surplus food with the people who need it most. In Massachusetts, more than one million tons of food are discarded each year, yet one in ten residents don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Food waste, which accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, poses a serious threat to our climate. As a member of Congress, I will introduce legislation to establish a Federal Food Rescue Program that will match suppliers with excess food to local emergency food networks, reducing food insecurity, creating new jobs, and fighting climate change all at the same time.
Second, we need to address the weaknesses in our food system that prioritize polluters over people. Most of the food produced in the United States comes from a few, large industrial farms, many of whose practices contribute to soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and air and water pollution. Our centralized food system leaves us vulnerable to massive crop failures, disease outbreaks, and distribution bottlenecks, such as we are seeing during the covid-19 pandemic. As a member of Congress, I will support our transition to a more resilient, regional food system by supporting the Farm System Reform Act as introduced in the House of Representatives.
Third, we need to protect the natural resources that sustain us--especially our marine resources. I am ready on day one to fight for our precious natural resources and our marine ecosystem. In the White House, I helped prepare President Obama to declare the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, one of the world’s largest preserves. When I was in the Attorney General’s office, the office sued to stop offshore oil drilling off the Atlantic seaboard, protect the Endangered Species Act, uphold the Clean Water Act, and a range of other critical environmental regulations. We need somebody who is ready on day one to fight for our marine ecosystem. The seafood industry supports 83,000 jobs and brings in 7.3 billion dollars in revenue in Massachusetts alone. As climate change continues to threaten our coastal waters with rising temperatures and acidity, it is more important than ever that we protect our marine ecosystems and the jobs it supports. As your Congressperson, I will do so by working to update the Clean Water Act to protect against nonpoint sources of pollution.
We need to address the inequities of climate change by prioritizing working class, indigenous, and black and brown communities, all of which have historically borne the brunt of American’s pollution.
A recent study conducted by the EPA found that communities living below the poverty line were exposed to 35% more air pollution than the national average. Communities of color have a 28% greater exposure rate, with black neighborhoods experiencing air pollution levels 54% higher than the general population. We are polluting communities of color by design.
Indigenous people and people of color have been at the forefront of the environmental justice movement since its inception, and it’s time our government followed their lead. As a member of Congress, I will fight to make sure that vulnerable and marginalized communities receive priority funding for climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. I will introduce legislation to require enforceable Community Benefit Agreements between new project developers and local communities to ensure that environmental, labor, and transparency standards are agreed upon by all before work begins. I will also insist on increased funding for environmental and equity research at the EPA, CDC, and FEMA to better identify environmental justice communities and the unique health and disaster risks each one faces. As your Representative, I will work with Black and Indigenous leaders, organizers of color, my colleagues in Congress, and our network of federal agencies to ensure that all Americans have what they need to live freely and safely.
Second, we need to ensure that all Americans have equal access to information about the climate crisis.
In the midst of a crisis, it is vital that everyone know exactly what is happening around them. Eighty-four percent of parents in the United States believe that climate change should be taught in school, and 86% of teachers agree with them. Yet today, only 42% of teachers teach about climate change.
Our students deserve to know the facts about the crisis they face and to be given the tools they need to avert it. As your representative in Congress, I will support an amendment to the Obama administration’s 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that will have it include interdisciplinary climate change education among the high academic standards necessary to prepare students for their lives after elementary and secondary school. Furthermore, I will co-sponsor the Climate Change Education Act to ensure that all people can have access to reliable climate change information from the federal government.
While I believe we have to invest more in educating young people about the climate crisis, we must also listen to young people. From the Boston Climate Strike to the Sunrise Movement, to students across the country calling for college and university divestment from fossil fuels, young people have been at the forefront of this fight. They know that their future is at stake. As your member of Congress, I will partner with young people so that we build a sustainable and just climate future.
Human life is made possible by the earth’s diverse ecosystems — ecosystems which are under attack. From the cycling of nutrients and gases through the biosphere to pollination and pest control, nature provides us with essential services that would cost us $125 trillion each year to do ourselves. Healthy, intact ecosystems are better able to resist stressors like climate change, and in turn, continue to support us with the essential services they provide. Despite this, President Trump has made it his mission to put these vital systems in jeopardy, rolling back more than 65 federal environmental regulations and proposing significant cuts to environmental programs across federal agencies, including a 26% cut to the EPA budget.
As your representative in Congress, I will support legislation that protects our natural world, especially from fossil fuel extraction. In Congress, I will reinstate full funding to all of the federal government’s critical environmental programs and restore the Endangered Species Act, which has saved at least 227 species from extinction in the past 50 years, to its former strength. As your representative in Congress, I will sponsor legislation to permanently ban fossil fuel development on all federal land and in all of our coastal waters.
We must build for resilience because we are already seeing the effects of climate change in our everyday lives. Up and down the Atlantic coast, “sunny day flooding” has become increasingly common as sea levels rise. Droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes are occurring more frequently across the country, damaging crops and property and endangering entire communities. The Western United States is experiencing three times as many large wildfires each season as they did a few decades ago. Despite these imminent dangers, the Trump administration has removed $155 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund and threatened to cut funding for wildfire response efforts on numerous occasions.
As a member of Congress, I will fight to ensure that our disaster preparedness programs not only have the funding they need to respond to emergencies as they happen, but to take proactive measures to keep our communities out of harm's way.
As your next member of Congress, I will be ready on day one to tackle these issues. The window is closing on our chance to take action on climate change. If we do not act now, and if we do not act boldly, our planet will become permanently inhospitable to human life. During my career in public service, I have taken the fight to fossil fuel polluters, and I have worked to protect our shared environment. I am ready to take the bold, transformative actions we need to save our planet.