BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following remarks in advance of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.
“As we celebrate Earth Week, more than four decades after the first Earth Day in 1970, one of the most important lessons we can pass along to our children and grandchildren is that as global citizens we must work to protect and improve the livability and environmental health of our planet. Actions we take every day impact our environment, but moreover our inaction and inattention to the environment in the face of clear and growing scientific evidence – can have serious effects as well.
“This is an urgent issue. From the dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay – an icon at the heart of Maryland’s economy and culture – to thick air in downtown Beijing, China, and places in between, climate change is the biggest global threat facing humanity. Deadlier storms, rising sea levels, crippling droughts and deadly wildfires are leaving American taxpayers with growing tabs for mounting costs of disaster recovery. The cost of preparation is far less.
“As a Nation, we must demonstrate to the next generation that change is possible. We must act now to reduce our carbon footprint. We can reduce pollution, and in doing so we can help our environment and grow our economy by continuing the American tradition of technological innovation. American ingenuity, world class research and technology development institutions like the University of Maryland, coupled with the best workforce in the world, uniquely positions the United States to be the global leader in clean energy technology development and improved energy efficiency, as well as green chemistry, and modern multi-modal transportation networks.
“The notion that we must choose between economic growth and environmental protection is a fallacy. The pathway toward greater economic prosperity and growth is through the development and production of innovative and environmentally friendly production and manufacturing and building sustainable and livable communities.
“Science tells us climate change is real and it is among the biggest global threats facing us today. It is an environmental issue but also a health issue, economic issue and a national security issue. The good news is that we can do something to tackle each of these challenges at the same time.
“Seventy percent of Marylanders live in coastal zones. We see the scientific impact of climate change on Smith Island and the Inner Harbor, in the fields of Western Maryland and the edges of Ocean City. But in Maryland, strong clean energy rules have had an impact for the better. We saw it in the lesser damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy and we’ve seen it in job creation and economic growth. Investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and infrastructure resiliency will result in cleaner, healthier communities, it will create jobs and it will bolster our economy regionally and nationally.
“Clean air and clean water are good for our country. On this Earth Day, let’s commit to taking the reasonable steps needed to preserve our planet and our way of life.”