Preserving the wilderness has always been a top priority of mine. These wilderness lands help to provide higher quality drinking water, cleaner air, and protection for wildlife. Further, our wilderness provides opportunities for recreation, family vacations, and educational outings. As a father of two children, I am pleased that our region has several beautiful national parks within a short distance from our home. I am committed to conserving these crucial resources for future generations.
Since their passage in the early 1970’s, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts continue to play an important role in improving and protecting the quality of life for Americans everywhere. As the nation confronts environmental challenges that threaten to impact our daily lives, it is important that these foundational policies continue to provide the legal framework necessary to protect American families from harmful pollutants.
The harmful impacts of our dependence on oil contributes significantly to climate change and disproportionately impact people and communities of color, particularly those living in poverty, in a number of ways. In addition to environmental and structural damages inflicted by extreme climate events, people with lower incomes often experience more negative health effects than other groups, making climate change a public health crisis. I have been a strong advocate for policies that support environmental justice efforts.
Combating Climate Change
It is an indisputable fact that the earth’s climate is warming and changing, and poses a grave threat to the entire world. Over the last century, the global temperature has risen and research suggests that the global average temperature today is among the highest since human civilization began flourishing. Over the course of human development, the use of fossil fuels, increased deforestation, agricultural production, and other types of human activity have increased the concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG), such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and tropospheric ozone in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels, for example, have risen by almost 40 percent over the last 150 years and are contributing to a 30 percent increase in ocean acidification. Two thirds of global GHG are produced by ten primary emitters: China, the United States, the European Union, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and Iran.
On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced his administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, a deal created in late 2015 where 195 developed and developing countries agreed to limit their emission levels to help prevent a rise in global temperature. This is a disastrous move that undermines the most significant global climate change agreement to date. Studies have shown that should the Earth’s temperature rise more than two degrees Celsius, the potential for humans to avert the worst of the devastating effects of climate change will diminish or disappear altogether. Given this urgency, I support the agreement reached at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015. The framework created through the Paris Climate Agreement paves the way for the creation of new jobs, raising standards of living, and lifting millions out of poverty and is something that the U.S. should continue to support.
Even within the United States, climate change disproportionately impacts people and communities of color, particularly those living in poverty, in multiple ways. In addition to environmental and structural harm inflicted by extreme climate events, people with lower incomes often experience more negative health effects than other groups, making climate change a public health crisis, as well. To address all of these concerns, we must implement a climate change policy that prioritizes improvements to public health and invests in programs that mitigate the financial costs of implementing climate change policy to communities with lower incomes. Additionally we need to continue to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels while creating clean, living wage jobs in the green industry workforce. Our policies should also enable people to live where they work and have access to clean transportation, an affordable place to live, and clean and secure food sources.
Our nation’s current energy policy is outdated, inefficient and relies far too much on foreign oil. This undermines our national security and leaves us at the mercy of gas and oil prices, which can change dramatically in short periods of time. This is unacceptable, and Americans deserve better. We must establish energy policies that protect consumers, reduce our carbon footprint, and strike a balance between moving our economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels and mitigating the economic impact of this transition.
It is important that we look towards new sources of cleaner and renewable energy, rather than the fossil fuels that we have depended on over the past centuries. I have and will continue to encourage the use and development of more efficient technology. A mix of sustainable energy technologies offers one of the most cost-effective options for reducing the export of U.S. dollars to pay for burgeoning oil and natural gas imports. Renewable energy technologies also have the unique potential to tap domestic resources and create new sources of energy like solar and wind power. We have the technology and innovation to develop a sustainable domestic energy program with the potential to lead the global market; however, this can only succeed through improved energy efficiency and the development of alternative energy sources. The domestic production of renewable energy resources will strengthen our economy and loosen our dependence on foreign oil and its environmental costs.
Reducing Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels – Cosponsor of the America Wins Act, which places a fee on fossil fuels and invests that revenue in low and middle-income households most effected by climate change, and in our nation’s infrastructure. Additionally, I have successfully defeated numerous efforts to prohibit the military from purchasing biofuels.
Recognizing Climate Change As A National Security Risk - Led my colleagues in the fight to have climate change formally recognized in law as a national security threat and to require the Department of Defense to prepare for it.
Requiring Climate Resiliency And Conservation Plans – Passed into law legislation to require Department of Defense installations to establish energy and climate resiliency plans, and require plans for energy and conservation policy.
- Prioritizing Environmental Justice – Cosponsor of a bill that would officially establish the Office of Environmental Justice at the Environmental Protection Agency and codify the Environmental Justice Small Grants program. This program provides critical funding to community-based projects aimed at addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on frontline communities.
- Defending Our Public Lands – With the current Administration attacking our natural spaces, I remain committed to preserving the sanctity of our National Parks and National Monuments. I have cosponsored H.Con.Res. 27, which expresses the sense of Congress that America’s Federal public lands are national treasures and belong to all Americans. I have also sent numerous letters to the Administration in defense of our National Monuments. I have also supported conservation by introducing H.R. 1791 which would designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a national heritage area. This would help coordinate conservation and management efforts in the area.
- Ensuring the Purity of America’s Water – Joined my colleagues in expressing opposition to the Trump Administration’s efforts to rescind the Clean Water Rule. I have also continuously expressed strong support by requesting robust funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund during the annual appropriations process.
- Increasing Access to the Outdoors – Cosponsor of bill that would codify a National Park Service administered cost-share grant program that invests in America’s urban parks. 80 percent of Americans now live in urban areas but 30percent of America’s residents in the 100 largest cities do not have a park within a 10 – minute walk of their home. The Legacy Partnership program will help resolve this issue, in particular in underserved and low-income neighborhoods.
- Keeping Our Air Clean for Generations to Come - As a Cosponsor of the BREATHE Act, I support improving air quality standards, turning back immunities extended to fracking operations that have allowed the industry to bypass aggregate emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.
- Investing in Our Future - I support the Green Climate Fund, which provides critical resources for resilient and low-emission development around the world, complementing existing efforts to alleviate poverty and promote global health, stability, and democracy.
- Safe Drinking Water for All Americans - Cosponsored the Families in Flint Act, a bill that would provide $765 million in federal funding to replace all damaged water infrastructure, provide wraparound services to help the residents of Flint, MI, cope with the impacts of lead exposure, and create a Center for Excellence in Flint focused on studying the impact of this exposure on the population.
- Scrutinizing the Impact of Coal Trains – I sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to conduct a cumulative environmental impact statement regarding the impact of increased coal export from terminals in Washington and Oregon.
- Respecting Our History - Co-led a letter with Congressman Reichert to the United States Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) urging the them to act quickly in recognizing and accepting the name change of Howard Lake in Washington State.
- Peace and Quiet - The expansion and changes at SeaTac Airport over the years have caused local communities to endure increased air traffic above their homes. I have seen firsthand how the growth of the region and SeaTac has increased the amount of airplane noise, emissions, and impacts that some residents of the District are experiencing. I am committed to working with local stakeholders, the FAA, and the Federal government to reduce adverse impacts of airplanes in the region. I have remained active and engaged with these communities by bringing their concerns to relevant officials at the Port of Seattle and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As a member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, I continue to organize community meetings and have introduced legislation at the federal level to further study and alleviate the noise burden that these communities are experiencing.
- National Parks Are for Everyone - Joined a letter led asking the National Park Service Director to work with Congress to ensure our nation’s park system is more inclusive and reflective of the diversity of American history and experience.
As a member of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, I believe we must continue to fight for communities, both around the world and in the U.S., who are the most vulnerable. As the second-largest emitter, with only about five percent of the world’s population, it is the responsibility of the U.S. to lead by example in reducing carbon emissions and ensure that people and communities of color are not forgotten. Despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, I will continue to work to ensure these groups are fully engaged in designing and implementing policy to ensure equitable outcomes.
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More on Energy & Environment
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|1/27/21||Rep. Smith Applauds Biden Administration’s Executive Actions to Address the Climate Crisis|
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|11/4/20||Rep. Smith Statement on United States’ Official Exit of the Paris Climate Agreement|