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Environmental Protection and Sustainability


"The many environmental and natural resource issues facing this nation require thoughtful and inclusive policy and leadership in order to leave this planet inhabitable for our children and grandchildren."

SUMMARY OF STANCE

As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I sit on the Subcommittee on Federal Lands and I have the honor of serving as the Ranking member of Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. It is my role to help ensure that our country’s natural resources are managed in the most sustainable and responsible way possible, and to strike the proper balance between our public lands’ many uses. It is our duty and our responsibility as citizens to ensure that we leave the planet in better shape than we found it.

RELATED LEGISLATION AND ACTIONS

Introducing legislation is just one action that a member of Congress can take to address a concern or issue that impacts constituents. House Members can also introduce Congressional resolutions calling on the House (or even the full Congress) as a body to recognize or support a certain event or position on an issue. Members can write letters to government leaders requesting they take certain action, hold hearings with expert panels to address issues, work with colleagues at the committee level on specific issues, or even make direct in-person appeals to other Members or officials in the government. Here are a few examples of how I have taken action on this issue.

Environmental Protections

I introduced H.R. 3977, the “Trash Reduction Act,” that would place a $0.10 fee on grocery bags.  If enacted, we would expect a 60-90 percent reduction in plastic bag use, which would greatly reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

I also authored the Democratic alternative amendment to H.R. 2728, which would have allowed the federal government to set standards of fracking chemical disclosure to the public by the oil and gas industries.

Right now, our communities do not have access to reliable or complete information about fracking operations. Our communities have a right to know; we should be consistent and make sure the people in our communities also have a right to know about fracking chemicals injected below their backyards, their schools, their farms, and their parks.

To ensure the public has a right to know about the environmental and health effects of oil and gas operations on public lands before drilling may begin, I offered a transparency amendment to H.R.1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, which regrettably was not adopted into the final bill.  

I believe it is in the fracking industry’s best interest to provide information to the public. If we are going to engage in fracking, it must be done in an accountable and transparent way. When the oil and gas industry hides the facts, it erodes the public’s trust and breeds suspicion.

The way this generation lives, grows, and prospers on the Earth will determine the world we leave to our children. I want to ensure that we leave our children a better world than the one we live in—a world that focuses on long-term, sustainable energy and land management solutions. When extracting nonrenewable resources, it is our responsibility to ensure safeguards exist that protect communities, while guaranteeing future generations the promise of clean water, fresh air, and unspoiled lands.

Preservation & Conservation

America is blessed with many natural wonders, both on land and at sea, which have been preserved because of visionary leaders such as President Theodore Roosevelt and Conservationist John Muir. By promoting ecosystem-wide sustainable policies for oceans and fisheries, as well as wildlife and inland water systems, I hope to preserve our public lands for all to enjoy for generations.

To ensure the United States fulfills its requirements to join the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels I introduced H.R. 4480, the Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act. Albatrosses and petrels are some of the world’s most endangered seabirds. By signing the agreement, the United States would be able to help other countries develop and implement bird-saving fishing technologies and conservation strategies.

I am also proud to be the sponsor of  “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act,” H.R. 2430, which will designate 9.2 million acres of pristine geologic formations in Utah as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. I believe we need to protect and preserve U.S. public lands for the enjoyment of all Americans.

To keep coal companies from spoiling our nation’s streams and rivers, I authored an amendment to H.R. 2824 that would establish a stream “buffer zone.” Coal companies would be prohibited from dumping their coal waste within 100 feet from our waterways. While my amendment was not adopted into the bill, I will continue to fight to protect our rivers and streams.  

CAUCUSES OR MEMBERSHIPS RELATED TO ISSUE

Safe Climate Caucus
I am proud to be a Co-Chair of the Safe Climate Caucus which has a mission to raise awareness in Congress and with the public about the many ways climate change is affecting the societies and ecosystems we hold dear, and what we can do about it.  Congress needs to act to reduce emissions, encourage new innovation for clean energy, and increase the resilience of our communities.

Green Schools Caucus
I am chairman of the Green Schools Caucus which works to promote green schools that save money, provide healthy learning environments and encourage local job creation. The goals of the Green Schools Caucus are to raise awareness of the benefits of green schools, lead the policy discussion on this topic in various forums, create legislative opportunities for the collective efforts of caucus members and provide Members of Congress with constituent outreach resources. In addition, the Caucus provides relevant national and local news related to green school activities in specific school districts, as well as materials for constituents who wish to advance green schools at the local level.  

Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition
I serve as the Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) which was founded in January 2009 to be a focused, active, and effective advocate for policies for clean energy innovation and job creation, environmental protection, and policies that will address global climate change. The SEEC also works to advance polices to help arrest global warming and protect our nation’s clean air, water and natural environment.

Climate Solutions Caucus
I am Vice-Chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus, founded in 2016, as a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate.

National Marine Sanctuary Caucus
The Congressional National Marine Sanctuary Caucus calls for responsible ocean stewardship and ensure that the sea has a place among our nation’s priorities. Members of the Caucus raise awareness of the National Marine Sanctuary System in Congress and ensure that adequate resources are directed towards the preservation of America’s underwater treasures and the coastal economies they support. 

Zoo and Aquarium Caucus
The Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus’ goals are to recognize the impact of America’s aquariums and zoos as they promote science education, conservation, and family recreation, inspiring stewardship and discovery through entertaining exhibits and conservation and education programs; and partnerships with public schools.     

House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
The House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus is a bipartisan caucus that serves to provide basic, nonpartisan information to Members and their staff on energy-related issues. The caucus does not advocate for particular technologies or approaches.

For more information concerning my work and views on environmental protection and sustainability, please contact me.

 
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