Global warming is no longer an academic question for scientists to ponder. It's a very real crisis that requires American leadership. This is not a political issue; this is a critical generational responsibility that will take a commitment from Washington and from each of us here at home.
Addressing climate change is not just about solving the global warming problem facing the next generation - it has the immediate effect of creating high paying job opportunities if we invest in this technology now. We export billions of dollars each year to import the energy we need to power our country. The nation that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will be the nation that leads the next technological revolution. The Fifth District stands ready to compete globally in developing and manufacturing the clean energy technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. The companies that are growing here in the Fifth District are the companies developing solar and fuel cell technology, like Evergreen Solar in Devens, Nuvera Fuel Cells in Billerica and Ballard in Lowell, and new, more efficient ways of transporting energy, like American Superconductor in Devens.
Since being elected in October, 2007, I have made protecting our environment and promoting energy independence a priority of my office. I was proud to cast one of my first votes in Congress to increase fuel efficiency standards for the first time in more than 30 years.
As a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition I am working to help identify opportunities to support and improve energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. Our caucus is focused on ensuring that no opportunity is missed to adopt tangible climate change policy and help American firms participate in the next wave of technological expansion.
In 2009, I joined the Natural Resources Committee, which oversees legislation related to domestic energy production, National Parks, rivers, forests, oceans and wilderness areas. This Committee is particularly appropriate considering the vast and unique landscape that makes up the Fifth District, including two national historical parks, two national heritage areas, and three rivers protected under the Wild and Scenic River designation. My work on the committee allows me to support the success of the first urban national park in Lowell and expand this pioneering concept to other urban communities.
Investments in clean energy and green technology. At the start of the 111th Congress, I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which made a historic $69 billion investment in the clean energy sector of our economy. This investment will lead to a major transformation of our energy system including unprecedented growth in the next generation of renewable sources of energy, enhanced manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology, advanced vehicle and fuel technologies, and a smarter electric grid.
Our nation stands poised to lead the green revolution that will create the next generation of research and manufacturing jobs. Many companies in the Fifth District are leading this charge towards innovation. Companies such as Nuvera Fuel Cells in Billerica, Ballard and Konarka in Lowell, PowerHouse and Solectria Renewables in Lawrence are all growing clean energy jobs in our own backyard. We can use American entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic to harness wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources to power homes, office buildings, and appliances. We can draw from existing domestically produced alternative sources to fuel cars and trucks, while greatly reducing on dependence on foreign oil. And as these technologies mature and become cost competitive with carbon equivalents, it will be American made clean energy technology and products that are sold overseas.
We have a responsibility to urgently address the critical environmental issues that, if untouched, will cause irreparable harm for future generations. Global warming is no longer an academic question for scientists to ponder. It's a very real crisis that requires American leadership. Our country's addiction to foreign oil and fossil fuels puts not only our environment, but also our economy and national security at risk. This is not a political issue; this is a critical generational responsibility that will take a commitment from Washington and from each of us here at home.
Addressing climate change is not just about solving the global warming problem facing the next generation - it has the immediate effect of creating high paying job opportunities if we invest in this technology now. Each year we export billions of dollars to import the energy we need to power our country.
If we invest in this technology now, instead of ceding green tech jobs to our competitors in China, we give ourselves an opportunity to create high paying jobs and grow this nascent industry.
Here in Massachusetts, jobs in the clean energy industry grew by 11.8% in 2013 and are projected to grow another 11% in 2014. The Third District stands ready to compete globally in developing and manufacturing the clean energy technologies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. Growing companies here are developing solar and fuel cell technology and new ways of transporting energy -- companies like Solectria Renewables in Lawrence, American Superconductor in Devens, and AvCarb in Lowell. Locations around the Third District, such as Everett Mills in Lawrence (solar) and Wachusett Community college in Gardner (wind), are harnessing the power of clean energy to fuel their innovation.
The Third District's educational institutions are expanding to include new innovation technology centers that will pave the way for future pioneering in this field.
I am a founding member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and I have been a member of the Natural Resources Committee for more than five years, working to oversee legislation related to domestic energy production, National Parks, rivers, forests, oceans and wilderness areas. This Committee is particularly appropriate considering the vast and unique landscape that makes up the Third District, including two national historical parks, two national heritage areas, and three rivers protected under the Wild and Scenic River designation.
In 2015, I was named the highest ranking Democratic member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. The Subcommittee on Federal Lands, (which was previously called Public Lands and Environmental Regulation), is responsible for all matters related to the National Park System, U.S. Forests, public lands and national monuments. This leadership position will allow me a platform to continue and expand my work in multiple areas important to the district I represent, and to the country as a whole. The Third District of Massachusetts is home to several national historic and wildlife areas, such as Minuteman National Historical Park and Lowell National Historical Park.
OIL & GAS PRICES
These are difficult economic times for families across the Third District and I know that high gasoline prices are a burden for many families struggling to make ends meet. The best way to address high gasoline prices is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, invest in more fuel efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles, and invest in existing domestically produced sources of energy.
Since being elected in October, 2007, I have made protecting our environment and promoting energy independence a priority of my office. I was proud to cast one of my first votes in Congress to increase fuel efficiency standards in automobiles for the first time in more than 30 years.
While natural gas is not a renewable resource or the answer to global warming, in the near term natural gas can actually serve to diminish a number of public health threats caused by generating electricity because power plants burning natural gas produce less air pollution than coal-burning plants. However, we must ensure the process for extracting natural gas from our land is done safely and responsiblyand does not displace investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.
I have cosponsored several pieces of legislation and have written to the Administration multiple times in support of stronger environmental protections for fracking activities. For example, I am a cosponsor of a bill (the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act), which establishes safeguards to protect drinking water from risks associated with fracking. And, I support implementing all of the Natural Resources Defense Council fracking safeguards.
As a founding member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), I am working to help identify opportunities to support and improve energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. Our caucus is focused on ensuring that no opportunity is missed to adopt tangible climate change policy and help American firms participate in the next wave of technological expansion.
CLEAN ENERGY AND GREEN TECHNOLOGY
Our nation stands poised to lead the green revolution that will create the next generation of research and manufacturing jobs. Many companies in the Third District are leading this charge towards innovation. In fact, in 2014 a Mass Clean Energy Center report demonstrated a 10.5% growth in green energy jobs in Massachusetts, with special highlights on businesses in Lowell and Hudson.
The use of solar and wind power is growing, businesses in the area are producing state-of-the-art products and parts to help make clean energy more effective and efficient; and educational institutions are expanding to include new innovation technology centers that will pave the way for future pioneering in this field. There should be a national focus on investing in and developing clean energy technology, which will be a benefit locally and nationally. I support clean energy legislation because it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create the jobs of the future.
I supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which made a historic $69 billion investment in the clean energy sector of our economy. This investment has since led to a major transformation of our energy system, including unprecedented growth in the next generation of renewable sources of energy, enhanced manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology, advanced vehicle and fuel technologies, and a smarter electric grid.
On July 26, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also referred to as the Waxman-Markey bill after its authors. I was proud to support this bill, which was by far the most comprehensive approach to combating global warming that Congress has considered. Scientists and an increasing numbers of business leaders agree that the best way to slow global warming is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This landmark legislation sought to dramatically reduce harmful carbon emissions, promote the clean energy technologies and resources that will create jobs here at home, and greatly limit our dependence on foreign sources of energy. It would put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, a tactic which we have used successfully in recent years to limit the effects of acid rain and decrease lead in gasoline. The bill embraced the goal of reducing our nation's climate-changing pollution emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, creating clean energy jobs here in America, protecting consumers from high energy costs, reducing our dependence on dirty and foreign fuels, and making our nation more secure.
Investment in wind energy is directly responsible for creating American manufacturing jobs. In fact, over the past few years we have seen a great change that has resulted in 60% of the average wind turbine being manufactured right here in America. I was a cosponsor of legislation to extend the production and investment tax credits for onshore and offshore wind development, and have spoken about these investments on the House floor. Unfortunately, the wind production tax credit (PTC) expired at the end of 2013.
First established through the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced from utility scale turbines. It has helped to grow the American wind industry, supporting the creation of 75,000 jobs. In the past five years alone, wind power accounts for 35 percent of all new energy generating capacity. I strongly support reauthorizing the wind PTC so that it may continue to support thousands of manufacturing jobs and help our nation make the move towards more renewable sources of energy.
The use of solar power is spreading in the Third District, from commercial rooftops to apple orchards. For example, in September 2012 I attended the ground breaking of a new solar installation at the Lowell Landfill Site. The City of Lowell partnered with Ameresco to install over 6,000 photovoltaic solar panels that will generate 1.5 megawatts on top of the old Landfill site in the Highlands. The installation was completed in 2013 and is just one phase of a citywide solar power initiative.
Also in 2012, Everett mills in Lawrence opened a solar panel array on the rooftop of its historic building. By utilizing this new technology, the building will provide safe, clean and affordable energy to businesses located in the mill. I was committed to helping clear lines of communication to ensure the project was able to continue without delay. The installation also used products made locally, helping to support local businesses and jobs.
With 39 sites, Lawrence is among the top 20 municipalities in Massachusetts with solar installation systems.
PROTECTING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES
I will continue to defend the conservation of open spaces, including forests, wetlands, waterways, and ocean habitats, as they represent a link to our rich, historical past and a way forward toward environmental preservation and responsibility.
I strongly support full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is critical to maintaining public spaces in the District and the Commonwealth. I was proud to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Chelmsford with the Director of the National Park Service in August of 2014. The LWCF is a simple idea: a tiny portion of offshore oil and drilling fees should be used for the protection and preservation of our public lands. This is particularly appropriate at a time when oil companies are enjoying record profits, yet local parks and recreational facilities have been cutting back services and closing their gates because they do not have the funding to stay open.
RIVERS OF THE THIRD DISTRICT
The rivers in the District play an important role in our communities today, and in our history. I recognize this each year by hosting River Day, when I join a group of volunteers to visit various rivers and sites around the district to promote the conservation and importance of our region's beautiful natural resources.
I also wrote legislation to help designate the Nashua River as a "Wild and Scenic" river. This classification would help preserve and protect this historic waterway while making it eligible to receive federal funding for further conservation efforts. In June 2014, the House of Representatives passed this bill with unanimous, bipartisan support and it is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Creating green-space and public parks in urban communities is an excellent way to revitalize neighborhoods and further economic development in our cities. The City of Lawrence has worked extensively with Groundwork Lawrence to transform blighted areas of the city into usable community space. I introduced legislation to create a Groundwork USA Trusts Program that would provide grants of up to $400,000 to local communities for development programs that address Brownfields and blighted urban environments. The total authorization would be $15 million for each fiscal year through FY2019, which would allow Groundwork USA to produce 5-8 new Trusts each year. Last year alone, every federal dollar invested in Groundwork USA projects was leveraged to $15 by local Trusts through private donations.
OUR NATIONAL PARKS
Find a national park near you!
I serve on the Natural Resources Committee and was named Ranking Member of the Federal Lands Subcommittee, which oversees America's National Parks. In June of 2013, I was honored by the bipartisan, nonprofit group the National Parks Conservation Association with an award for my support of National Parks in Congress for the second year in a row.
I am fortunate to represent two outstanding National Parks in the Third District. The extraordinary transformation of Lowell began when the Lowell National Historical Parkwas established within the city's core in 1978, the first urban national park of its kind in the United States. The park has been instrumental in preserving and protecting the historic landscape of the city and revitalizing the economic and physical condition of the downtown area.
Every year, thousands of people visit Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord to see first-hand where the shot heard "round the world was fired and where the American Revolution began. The National Parks Service plays a vital role in preserving these important pieces of our history as well as our wild spaces and landscapes. I will continue to work to ensure that these natural treasures can be enjoyed for generations to come.
In 2009 President Obama signed my bill to protect Colonel James Barrett's farmhouse, allowing this historic site, which was the impetus for the British march on Concord and Lexington, to be brought within the boundaries of Minute Man National Park. This action ensures that current and future generations can learn about the important role it played in the birth of our nation. In October of 2012, I celebrated, along with the organization Save Our Heritage, the completed restoration and transfer of ownership of the Barrett Farm.
Read more about Barrett Farm by clicking here
SECRETARY SALAZAR VISIT
At my invitation, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Lowell for a tour of the Lowell National Historical Park, the nation's first urban National Park. I urged Secretary Salazar to visit Lowell NHP to see a firsthand example of the important role that National Parks can play in both the economic development and cultural preservation of cities. Following the tour, the Secretary commented that Lowell NHP could be "a model" for urban national parks throughout the nation, including in such cities as St. Louis and Los Angeles.
BP DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL
The 2010 tragedy at the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico underscored the need to transition to clean renewable sources of energy. It is abundantly clear that tragically insufficient oversight took place at the BP site and years of cozy relationships between Big Oil and inspectors contributed to this disaster. Use of our public lands is a privilege, not a right, and oil companies who seek to exploit our natural resources must be held to the highest safety and ethical standards.
Congress has taken minimal action to address the systemic issues that allowed for such a major environmental and economic disaster to take place. Republican leadership repeatedly denied numerous amendments that I have proposed which would strengthen safety measures.
I introduced legislation, the Oil Spill Preparation and Protection Act, which would require oil companies that seek to drill in United States coastal waters to submit detailed plans on how they would contain and clean-up a worst-case scenario oil spill. Drilling for oil miles below the earth's surface in ocean depths of 5000 feet is an inherently risky undertaking. As such, it is essential that all necessary safety precautions are taken and all scenarios are planned for appropriately preparing for a worst-case scenario, especially when an accident can hold such dire consequences for our environment and our economy. My provision was included in the CLEAR Act, passed by the House of Representatives in 2010, and puts in place commonsense safeguards to prevent future environmental disasters.
While our legislation was passed in the House, Republicans in the Senate blocked its consideration. Despite the failure of Congress to address the root causes of the spill, the threat posed by insufficiently regulated oil drilling off our coasts is today no less dangerous or potentially threatening to our economy than it was in 2010 and I will continue to push for legislation that increases drilling safety.