We are fortunate to have the Hoosier National Forest, countless lakes and streams, and rich farmland in Indiana. I grew up camping in our forests and swimming in our lakes. We should all be proud that Indiana’s natural beauty supports a thriving tourism industry in our district. We have that blessing because Hoosiers – including the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby – are strong believers in being good stewards of our land. We care about leaving clean air and clean water for our children and grandchildren. 

Today, climate change is the greatest threat to future generations.  Our Hoosier tradition of stewardship should be the foundation of our response. Unless we can limit the increase from global warming to 3.6 degrees Farenheit, we face rising sea levels, lethal heatwaves, superstorms, and drought. There is no time to waste. That’s why I support a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions, which would create the proper incentives for companies to invest in a clean-energy future. It would also raise over a billion dollars to help develop green technology and infrastructure, reinvest in communities harmed by environmental damage, and control the cost of electricity during the transition to a zero-emissions future. Energy independence is a moral, environmental, and national-security imperative. A carbon tax is our best chance to achieve it.

Investing in the clean energy jobs of the future is also economic common sense for Hoosiers. We should not be losing the race for renewable energy jobs to China or any other country. We should be producing wind turbines and other clean energy solutions right here in Indiana. We should make investments in training a clean energy workforce, and in upgrading our public buildings to become more energy-efficient. After all, Indiana already has more than 44,000 clean energy jobs, most of which are in energy efficiency. This sector helps make existing systems, such as HVACs, more energy-efficient, and it produces advanced building materials. With a strong construction industry and the right public policies – like a tax credit for homeowners to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes – we have the potential to create and keep thousands of good-paying jobs right here in southern Indiana.

Even as we shift away from reliance on fossil fuels, though, we have an obligation to protect workers who suffer health problems resulting from our use of those fuels.  In particular, we have a responsibility to stand up for our coal miners who are suffering from black lung disease. This aggressive lung disease is the result of exposure to coal dust, and there is no cure. Over 76,000 miners have died from black lung since 1968. Supporting our miners means ensuring that their health care needs are met and that their pension funds are solvent. That’s why I support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act, which would streamline the application process for black lung benefits, and the Miners Pension Protection Act, which would ensure that our miners’ pensions are adequately funded.

Finally, our response to the challenges of climate change must grow out of the spirit of stewardship that has always characterized Hoosiers’ relationship with our land. The current administration’s support for offshore drilling and destructive fracking, its attacks on rules that protect us from toxic mining and industrial waste, and its devastating downsizing of national monuments and protected wildernesses all betray that spirit. I believe that protecting our forests and lakes and wildlife isn’t just good for the environment: it’s good for all of us, because Indiana wouldn’t be the place we know and love without them. That’s why I will defend our protected woodlands from downsizing and logging, our waterways from toxic waste dumping and contamination, and our wildlife from habitat loss and pollution. With strong leadership on environmental issues, we can care for our workers, create the good-paying jobs of tomorrow, take an effective stand against global warming, and preserve Indiana’s beauty for generations yet to come.

The Indiana Coal Ash Crisis

Coal-burning power plants have made a big mess in the form of coal ash ponds, including the Gallagher station in New Albany.  There are 85 coal ash ponds in Indiana, more than in any other state.  Coal ash is a mix of toxic substances that leaches into our groundwater.  Recent reports show that contaminants from coal ash are at levels 40 times higher than safe drinking water standards allow.

In 2015, the EPA established a plan that would require utilities to monitor and address this coal ash disaster.  But under Scott Pruitt, the EPA is likely going to weaken or repeal this rule.  That would be an outrageous mistake.

Save The Clean Power Plan!

The Trump administration’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan is a threat to the future of our planet.  The CPP would cap carbon emissions and promote clean energy.  A 2014 EPA analysis found that the CPP would prevent about 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030.  Carbon pollution affects poor people and people of color the most.  The transition to clean energy is good for our health, good for the environment and good for business, because by adopting clean technologies, the U.S. can lead in clean technologies that will be in demand around the world.  Yet our current government will not even admit that our carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to global warming and threatening our planet.  If elected, I will be a voice in Congress for a stronger, cleaner, healthier and more competitive economy.