I began my career in public service as an environmental advocate, taking a stand against reckless destruction of wetlands in my town. Since then, protecting the environment has been one of the guiding principles of my time in office. From curbing greenhouse gas emissions to preserving threatened forestlands, I believe our priorities and policies should reflect a broad commitment to our environment at every level.
When I came to Congress, I sought out a position from which I could have a voice in the debate over how to protect Connecticut's open spaces. I was chosen to be the Chairman of the House Land Conservation Caucus, a bipartisan group of like-minded Members, and from that position, I've led the fight in Congress to protect open space and expand resources for land preservation.
With the support of residents of the Farmington Valley, together we won an important victory for land conservation in Connecticut when the House passed the New England National Scenic Trail Designation Act. This legislation, almost a decade in the making, will recognize the Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett (MMM) Trail as the ninth National Scenic Trail in the 40-year history of the program. Running from the southern Massachusetts border all the way to the Long Island Sound, the MMM Trail passes through the Connecticut communities of Simsbury, Avon, Farmington, Plainville, and Meriden, among others. This designation will allow the residents of these towns, and visitors from across Connecticut and the country, to enjoy the beauty of the trail for years to come.
As we face possibly the greatest threat to the planet - global warming - the science has spoken, and the debate is over. We are now left with the considerable task of crafting a fair, sensible system of curbing carbon emissions. As a member of the Connecticut General Assembly, I was often frustrated by the fact that any steps we made toward a greener planet weren't always supported by policies in Washington. This year, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am looking forward to picking up where I left off in Hartford on landmark global warming protections to combat greenhouse gas on a nationwide scale. We need a firm framework of tradable allowances that nonetheless allows states with already-existing aggressive cap-and-trade systems - like Connecticut - to continue to innovate.
We cannot forget that our environmental priorities are inextricably linked to our energy policy. One of the easiest votes I took in Congress was for the first increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in nearly 30 years. By pushing for the production of more fuel-efficient cars, we'll eventually reduce oil consumption, which makes sense for our energy needs, the health of our environment, and the safety of our nation.
Our environmental policies are about more than making sure we have clean drinking water or healthy forests - they speak to the care and regard with which we treat the natural world around us, and the state in which we want to leave our planet for our children and generations to come.