The U.S. is not a pure, direct democracy but a representative one. However, state representatives are putting America’s reputation as a symbol of democracy at risk, as they consistently put their personal political agendas ahead of what their constituents truly want. One of the greatest examples of this is the issue of environmental justice.
Although Americans tend to be less concerned with climate change than those from other countries, the Pew Research Center still reports that 74% of Americans are willing to make personal changes in their everyday life to combat climate change, deeply contrasting the lack of environmental policy being passed in Congress.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan has been a point of much contention within Congress since first presented, but, if implemented, it would result in historic measures to protect the planet from further destruction brought on by climate change. Although already approved by the House of Representatives, the bill still awaits a vote in the Senate, currently conservative-leaning, thus jeopardizing the bill’s passing.
$162.9 billion of the $1.75 trillion bill will go to supporting climate justice, providing block grants and programs to reduce pollution; creating affordable, climate-resilient housing and infrastructure within communities; investing in clean energy transit; and implementing a Civilian Climate Corps to create clean energy jobs.
Some examples of the projects that would occur as a result of the block grants include installing solar power throughout economically disadvantaged communities and replacing street lights with American-made LED light bulbs.
The plan will include tax cuts for businesses that utilize clean energy technology such as renewables and electric vehicles as well as for consumers of these products, putting the country on track for totally carbon-free electricity by 2035 and reducing net emissions to zero throughout the economy by 2050. This will also create new, high-quality jobs within the energy sector.
According to EDLabor.House.gov, funding a Civilian Climate Corps would jumpstart job training and service opportunities, thus creating jobs while simultaneously combating pollution and climate change. More than $15 billion would go to climate-focused service opportunities, carried out by AmeriCorps, while over $4 billion would go to preparing workers for jobs in emerging fields that would address the climate crisis.
Ultimately, it is unlikely the Build Back Better plan will be passed in the Senate as is, which may result in a diluted version of the bill being proposed later. Given the polarity of the U.S.’ current political environment, this, too, could easily not be passed. If there is any hope of conserving our planet as an inhabitable place for all, the number of politicians who simply reject climate change as a devastatingly real consequence of human activity further diminishes it.
Saving the Earth and those who inhabit it is no longer an issue of writing to your representatives and voicing the importance of the issue but of voting your representatives out completely.
Although it has been almost a year since Biden’s inauguration, the baseless rhetoric and fanatical following of Donald Trump continues to gravely taint American democracy. His grip on almost every conservative politician in office is damaging our political system as well as our planet in unprecedented ways. Congressmen and congresswomen are no longer loyal to their constituents but to a man who openly denies climate change and basic science.
Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.
Assistant Opinion Editor