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Public Statements

Energy and the Environment

Issue Position

By:
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Despite the Republican war on science, global warming is a reality. In order to stop global warming, the United States Congress must take bold action immediately. The Bush administration has made a mockery of the EPA and has continued to subsidize irresponsible segments of the energy industry. The federal government must accept climate change as a reality and realize that we can and must act to stop it. The United States can be a world leader in the fight against global warming. As a state representative, Jamie has always shown a strong commitment to protecting our environment. He has worked to preserve open space, make Massachusetts more energy efficient, and worked to fund the Department of Environmental Protection. This explains why in 2006, Jamie received a 93% rating from the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters and a 93% rating from the Mass Audubon Society, and was endorsed by the Sierra Club in his 2006 State Representative re-election campaign.

Jamie's achievements include:

* Passing the Mercury Reduction bill (H 4665), phasing out the use of mercury in products and providing for the recycling and safe disposal of hazardous mercury.
* Protecting the Community Preservation Act (CPA). The landmark legislation that helps communities protect open space, build affordable housing and preserve historic buildings had its funding raided by Governor Mitt Romney. Jamie led the fight in the House of Representatives to restore proper state funding for the law, ensuring that CPA communities received their 100% match of state funding.
* Passed Energy Efficiency Standards bill (H 4299) requiring household appliances sold in Massachusetts to be energy efficient.
* Fought State Surplus land outside section that left state land open to development without local control or legislative vote.
* Preserved over 100 acres of open space in his district.
* Strong supporter of the Cape Wind project.

"There are those who think that our environment is clean, and we no longer need to pass any more legislation to protect our air, water and earth. The Bush Administration's attack on preserving our natural resources is a wakeup call that the United States has fallen behind in protecting its citizens. As someone who first got involved in public service as an environmental activist in my hometown, I realize that Congress must be vigilant in passing long-term reform of our country's environmental, energy, development and transportation laws in order to pass along a clean Earth to our children and grandchildren." - Jamie

The Jamie Eldridge Plan:

Stop Global Warming

Make Conservation a Part of Every Aspect of Society

Make Sure the Environmental Protection Agency is Actually Protecting the Environment

Protect Our Water

Protect Our Land


Stop Global Warming

Problem:

Climate change threatens the future of the planet. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collection of over 2,000 climate scientists and government representatives, global warming has been caused by fossil fuel-based industrialization. Because carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to increase greenhouse gases, the earth will likely see several more decades of global warming. Many scientists believe that the world's countries only have ten years to reverse this trend before a vicious cycle is created of radically rising sea levels, mass drought, aquatic extinctions and social breakdown across the globe.

The United States is particularly at fault for this reality, as we are 4 percent of the world's population yet we release 25 percent of all greenhouse gases. The Bush Administration has done nothing to take on this challenge, even denying that global warming is occurring. President Bush walked away from The Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while continuing subsidize big oil and big gas, leaving little left over for more sustainable sources of energy, and refusing to embrace the cause of energy conservation.

The United States is addicted to oil. Our fuel comes mostly from an increasingly unstable region of the globe. Unfortunately some of the alternative energy sources that have emerged are not sustainable or safe. Some politicians have made a case for "clean coal" despite the fact that it still produces carbon emissions, and others have focused on ethanol despite the fact that many experts say it takes more energy to produce than it actually yields. We need an honest and effective energy policy.

Solutions:

* Invest in sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. These alternatives are safe and economic. An upfront investment will reduce overall costs as these sources require no fuel and little maintenance. None of these three options emit greenhouse gases. They can also create jobs across the country, including many in Massachusetts.
* Place a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants and nuclear power plants. Coal-fired power plants are major sources of CO2 emissions. Nuclear power is a fossil-fuel power source (uranium) that generates significant greenhouse gases in the construction and protection of the nuclear facility and leaves unanswered questions about where to store nuclear waste. Congress also needs to end massive subsidies for the coal and nuclear power industries and shift those investments to wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
* Require utility companies to purchase at least 25 percent of its energy needs from sustainable alternative energy sources (wind, solar, hydroelectric). Given the monopoly that most utility companies have on providing electricity to consumers, these corporations must be required to move away from coal, gas and nuclear and towards alternative energy sources. The federal government should also change utility company regulations to foster more municipal power plants, and break up utility monopolies that deny consumers the choice to purchase clean energy.
* Cut off ALL subsidies to big oil and big gas. It is unacceptable for the United States government to support industries that are less efficient and more harmful than the alternatives.


Make Conservation a Part of Every Aspect of Society

Problem:

American's energy needs far outstrip the world's capacity of delivering that power in a sustainable manner. While it would be ideal if the United States could rely on sustainable energy such as wind, solar and hydroelectric to provide power for all of our needs, the only way to make this a reality is to aggressively pursue conservation strategies for all aspects of American society.

Most buildings, appliances, cars, and other basic consumer products are not produced to be energy efficient. The biggest use of energy is in buildings, yet this country has no plans to establish a green building code. With no national plan to reduce the use of energy consumed by Americans, the pressure to build more coal, gas and nuclear-power plants will only increase, only further contributing to the world's greenhouse gas crisis.

Solutions:

* Implement a progressive carbon tax on corporations' and consumers' uses of fossil fuels. The federal government needs to apply a value-added tax on use of gasoline that will influence consumers to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, while not burdening working families who are reasonably using fossil-fuel powered vehicles or appliances.
* Pass national energy efficiency standards for buildings, automobiles and appliances. Many engineers and architects have said that they can reduce the energy requirements of new buildings by 50 percent. You cannot do this on a state by state basis, but only on a uniform, national scale.
* Raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars to 40 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020. Leading organizations have made it clear that it is economically and technically possible to achieve these standards. This would save consumers money and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.


Make Sure the Environmental Protection Agency is Actually Protecting the Environment

Problem:

The Bush administration has gutted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the form of budget and staff cuts. The Agency has stopped enforcing laws already on the books which has allowed big oil and big gas to run amok. Even worse, the Executive Branch has manipulated scientific reports to omit the realities of the state of our environment, and of global warming. The future of our environment should not be a partisan issue. This administration has made an enemy of science and has ignored its responsibilities.

Solutions:

* Fully support the EPA with staff and funding. The agency is not capable of enforcing laws without the proper support. Repeal the Bush tax cuts and dedicate a portion of this funding to the EPA.
* Increase congressional oversight of the EPA to make the agency more accountable. The EPA should never be allowed to suppress studies that contradict the administration's position or to be lax in holding corporations accountable.
* We must make sure that the burden is not falling on State governments to enforce Environmental Laws such as the Clean Air Act.


Protect Our Water

Problem:

Our streams, ponds and wetlands are under attack. Recent Supreme Court decisions have undermined the ability of the federal government to protect our waters. The Bush administration has crippled the EPA with budget cuts so they cannot enforce existing laws. Far too much of our water is not safe because of mercury emissions. Clean water is a problem that will haunt the world for generations to come, and we owe it to our children to protect our drinking water.

Massachusetts has one the highest percentages of its population served by potentially at-risk water sources. In 2003, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a policy that removed protections for many bodies of water. Many regulators were prevented from protecting these waters without first getting permission from Washington. Because of the EPA's no protection policy, 75% of the Commonwealth's population relies of water from at-risk sources.

Solutions:

* Make sure that the EPA is protecting Massachusetts' water sources and that the citizens of the Commonwealth never have to worry about the quality of their drinking water. The EPA should not be allowed to tell regulators to ignore at-risk water sources.
* Reaffirm our commitment to the original intent of the Clean Water Act by supporting the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act in the House of Representatives.
* Prevent the Bush Administration from bullying the EPA to ignore violations of the Clean Water Act. No policy should be enacted that allows the agency to shirk its duties regarding our drinking water.
* Enact stricter controls on the manufacturing of mercury containing products as well as on mercury emissions.
* Work with organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Wildlife Federation to identify and begin protecting water sources that have been ignored since 2003.
* Increase federal funding for water protection infrastructure. Support federal funding under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support local communities seeking to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities, and prevent storm water runoff and sewage overflows. The most significant contributor to polluting of rivers and streams is runoff from residential homes and businesses. Instead of leaving small towns to fend for themselves when building and paying for sewer infrastructure, the federal government should provide grants and low-interest loans to pay for these costs, and guarantee the quality of the water supply for every American.


Protect Our Land

Problem:

Our lands that we once thought would remain in public trust forever are now at risk of being sold to the highest bidder under the Bush Administration. Every American is part owner of the 655 million acres of public lands and waters, yet it is not being managed properly by our federal government. Once again, in this year's budget President Bush has proposed to sell off 300,000 acres of National Forest lands to raise money for aid to states and the management of conservation programs. In Massachusetts, approximately 16,000 acres of woodlands, farms and fields are lost to development each year. Such development not only ruins the rural character of so many Massachusetts communities, but also affects local water supply, the strength of our family farms, and the general health of Massachusetts residents.

Solutions:

* The federal government must be restored as the caretaker of our public lands, for use by all Americans, and the protection of natural wildlife across the country. Congress must act to remove special interest groups from benefiting from the use of these lands, and ensure that our National Park Service and other land protection agencies are properly funded.
* Raise the standard for selling off federal lands.
* Prohibit the scoring of the amounts of money realized from the sale or lease or federal lands. This method represents bad fiscal policy and public land management policy by applying the free market to the sale of public lands. The principle of public lands to be enjoyed by all Americans should be the only priority of the National Park Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service, and not mortgaging the common value of a natural resources to the highest bidder. I support Senator Jeff Bingaman's amendment to the FY08 Federal Budget that would reinstate the rule on assets as it applied to public lands from 1987 to 1995.
* Oppose the development of coal, gas and oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), coastal waters, and other sensitive lands. Government estimates indicate that there is less than a six-month supply of oil on the National Refuge, and it would take ten years to make it to U.S. markets. If the refuge were to be drilled for oil, thousands of miles of pipelines and roads would sprawl across the entire 1.5 million acre coastal plain. The ANWR is a national treasure as well as sacred land to the Gwic'in Indians, a native people whose way of life depends on maintaining the fragile ecosystem of the refuge.


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