Forty-two years ago, late Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson had a vision of a world in which the environment was paramount. His vision led to the establishment of Earth Day—April 22—a day in which we celebrate our planet and the environment that sustains us.
On Earth Day we recommit ourselves to protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that nurtures us. Our planet has been entrusted to us for future generations, but today too many people suffer the consequences of an environment at risk. We see too many children suffering from asthma, we see too many Americans sickened by environmental pollutants and too many people worried about the safety of their drinking water.
We have—and we can—continue to make progress thanks to strong environmental laws that have helped us reduce air pollution and clean up polluted streams and rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Clean Air Act has prevented 160,000 premature deaths and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, more than one billion pounds per year of toxic pollutants have been removed from our nation’s waterways. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am committed to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and to reducing other environmental pollutants that threaten our health and safety. The bottom line is: I will fight any attempt to roll back environmental protection laws.
I am also encouraged by the growing realization of Americans that a strong environment means a stronger economy and a more secure nation. We need to create sustainable jobs and that means we need to invest in an economy that’s built on efficiency and sustainability and that will protect our water, air and land.
We also must lessen our dependence on an extremely volatile, unpredictable world oil market. Developing America’s abundant renewable energy resources is critical for lowering energy costs and for reducing our reliance on foreign energy supplies. Clean energy jobs are a policy tri-fecta: it’s good for the economy, good for the environment and good for our national security.
As we celebrate Earth Day, we can rise to these challenges, and live up to Sen. Nelson’s vision for the planet Earth. America has an obligation to lead the rest of the world by example, and a strong, sustainable environment is a critical goal for the entire world. We owe our future generations no less.