Environmentalists Must Rally Behind Clinton

Kelly McCarthy, Contributing Writer

No good thing comes without a cost. More than a century of rapid technological advancement has sent global temperatures skyrocketing at a rate 10 times faster than precedented by natural history. We’re also seeing increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels and pollution of our air, our water and our communities. We must mitigate the consequences of climate change and secure sustainable principles in development moving forward. This is no small task. The struggles we face demand a united front and a shared commitment to sustainability.

If Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States, we will have neither.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is our only hope for an equitable and livable future.

Clinton recognizes that environmental racism is pervasive and must be uprooted. Her environmental platform is perhaps strongest in its commitment to ending environmental injustice afflicting marginalized communities. As president, Clinton promises to work to clean up brownfields, where the contamination of communities by toxic waste is a serious health risk and an impediment to economic development. She also intends to improve drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure so as to ensure that everyone in our country is guaranteed access to clean water, a basic human right.

Clinton understands that oppressed communities are often exploited and polluted due to a lack of accountability. By increasing the criminal provisions of existing environmental legislation, Clinton intends to identify and penalize those who frequently endanger neighborhoods. She will ensure that legal precedent is set to bring the perpetrators of incidents like the Flint, MI, water crisis to justice.

There is no slowing industrial development, but Clinton recognizes that our nation must develop inclusively and sustainably. She will expand the clean energy economy by investing in renewable programs in low-income communities and communities of color. By investing in clean power and transportation, particularly in urban areas, Clinton’s plan will curb continuing damage to the respiratory health of millions of Americans that air pollution threatens.

Clinton recognizes the inevitability of many of the effects of climate change. In the coming decades, our generation will face a rapidly changing planet; this will be especially costly for densely populated coastal cities. Clinton will invest in infrastructure that will bolster resilience. Traditionally disadvantaged communities will be most affected by climate change. We need a leader who understands the importance of protecting these communities, a leader who will equip them with the tools necessary to lessen the impact of rising sea levels and worsening natural disasters.

A sustainable future is only attainable if sustainability stands as a core principle in every step of the decision-making process. Sustainability can’t be just a buzzword; protecting the environment can’t be something we just do on Earth Day. Concern for the health of the planet and our communities must be integrated into everything we do. Clinton’s promise to establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force on her first day in office is a testament to her understanding of this necessity. The task force will advise the Clinton administration’s efforts to protect at-risk communities from environmental degradation and the adverse effects of climate change.

From an environmental standpoint, there is always more to be desired from the political system. However, Clinton’s environmental agenda is progressive at its core. If she is successful in its implementation, millions of Americans will be shielded from the worst effects of environmental degradation. In fact, Clinton is the only major-party presidential candidate who has proposed a viable environmental agenda at all. Though some may be inclined to argue for Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s climate platform, the reality is that Stein lacks the experience and political tact necessary to get her aggressive policies passed.

Clinton has been endorsed by the NRDC Action Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and, more locally, the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, which has also endorsed local State Representative candidate Dan Ramos. For myself and other environmentally-minded people who understand how difficult it will be to effect the change we need, Hillary Clinton is our only option.

Despite the Republican majority Congress’ efforts to block any and all environmental legislation, President Barack Obama has set a historical precedent for combatting climate change and other threats to the environment. Obama’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement has finally committed our country to international cooperation in the climate fight. We cannot afford to lose this momentum. We cannot afford a president like Trump, who believes that climate change is an elaborate hoax and intends to defund the EPA and repeal environmental regulations.

The U.S. president is in a unique position to influence individuals both here and around the world. We need a president who will lead with compassion, who will understand that lives and communities are at stake. We need a president who will face the harsh reality of climate change and act on it, not one who will pretend it doesn’t exist.

We need Hillary Clinton.

If you’re interested in discussing Clinton’s environmental platform or other policies, come visit the Ohio Together office on 5 South Main Street. We are hard at work electing a president who truly understands what is at stake.