A clean environment provides us our healthy food, water, air, and resources, and promotes good personal health. In short, we cannot have healthy lives without a healthy environment. Pollution and climate change threaten our health and environment in huge ways that could be disastrous for humans if we do not take immediate action. The sad thing is many justify the pollution because of “jobs”, but we do not need to sacrifice our health and environment for good jobs.
Even though we have a Constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and the environment, (see Article I Section 27) unfortunately this right has not been adequately protected by all of our government officials, including even the Department of Environmental Protection. I expect strong action from our public officials and leaders to protect our air, water, and environment from pollution, and will lead the charge on environmental policy once elected.
How can we protect the environment while growing jobs?
- Transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035. A combination of tax policy and public jobs program should encourage the growth and adoption of renewable energy such as solar and wind. Renewable energy is booming in much of the world, providing economic opportunity along with the opportunity to fight pollution and climate change. We can also become energy independent and self-sufficient, rather than relying on importing foreign oil.
- Ban fracking. As we plan on a rapid transition to renewable energy, there is no need to create new fracking wells and pipelines. We must stop any such new construction with the goal of ultimately phasing out all fossil fuels over time. That money is better spent building a modern 21st-century electric grid based on renewable energy like solar and wind. Again, renewable energy will create many more jobs anyway so there is no reason to continue supporting fracking.
- No bailouts for coal or nuclear. Some officials are seeking bailing out the coal and nuclear industries with public funds. I would oppose any such bailout. We should be spending any public funds on replacing the coal and nuclear industries with clean renewable energy like solar and wind.
- Don't leave behind workers. This transition means many in the fossil fuel industry will not be able to continue working in that field. I will ensure the transition to renewable energy provides opportunity for any such workers, likely consisting of a combination of temporary expanded unemployment benefits and job training, with a public jobs guarantee program. Workers will be able to transition to newer, better paying jobs that are better for the environment and our energy-independence. We will have plenty of work to be done during and after the transition to renewable energy.
- Fix lead pipes and ensure clean drinking water. Many areas around Pittsburgh have old water pipes that can leach lead and other dangerous pollutants into the water. Pipes and other infrastructure should be modernized, and state money should be made available to ensure every home is tested and upgraded. No one should be stuck letting their kids drink toxic water because they can't afford otherwise. I would support regular testing to ensure clean lead-free water in our schools similar to HB 2025.
- Reduce pollution and protect our health. We can't have healthy people without a healthy environment. Allegheny County has some of the worst rates of asthma and lung disease in the nation thanks to our poor air quality, for example. I will support any appropriate measure that will reduce or eliminate water and air pollution. Since a healthier environment will reduce health complications, it will also reduce the cost of the overall healthcare system significantly. We can't afford not to take action to protect our air, water, and environment -- think of it as preventative medicine!
- Modernize our infrastructure to reduce and conserve. With better, more modern architecture, building codes, and public transporation, we can further reduce pollution and energy waste. We should encourage more people to work from home and "tele-commute" when possible. We should be thinking how to reduce and conserve usage, not always just expanding.
- Establish more state and local parks and trails. We need to preserve more natural parks and trails, especially near cities so that people can enjoy the spaces and we give the opportunity for nature to thrive and recover. I will strongly support and advocate for expanded funding of our parks and trails.