Andru Volinsky: As governor, I’ll fight for bold climate action

For the Monitor
Published: 4/22/2020 8:00:28 AM

On this landmark 50th Earth Day, my message is simple: we need to stop catastrophic climate change and for the sake of my grandchildren, I promise to do everything within my power to build that better world for them.

That’s why I’m running for governor and that’s why I am proud to have earned the rare primary endorsement of the Sierra Club. While the pandemic has denied me the opportunity to be present for my second grandchild’s birth, I’m promising to lead the charge to bring big bold climate action in the framework of the Green New Deal if I’m elected governor, for the sake of all of our children and grandchildren.

New Hampshire has fallen behind our neighbors when it comes to bold action on the environment, costing us both jobs and our public health. Young people, in particular, are right to demand progress to save our planet. To do that, we must replace the Sununu administration’s devotion to the fossil fuel industry and refusal to address the climate crisis.

Governor Sununu infamously questioned, “Is carbon the leading reason why the earth has warmed up pretty much continuously over the last 150 years, I’m not sure. It could be.” His actions consistently deny the urgency of climate change. Sununu is the only governor in New England, either Republican or Democrat, who has not joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading the way after President Trump shamefully pulled us from the Paris climate agreement.

I believe that personnel is policy. Sununu’s nominations to key environmental positions have been woefully unqualified. As an executive councilor, I helped shoot down Peter Kujawski, his initial appointment to lead the Department of Environmental Services, when he admitted he had no idea how he would deal with climate change. I also opposed Sununu’s nomination of Michael Vose to the Site Evaluation Committee that approves controversial energy projects such as Northern Pass. Eversource, the utility company behind Northern Pass, has donated over $95,000 to Sununu. Vose rejected the science of climate change and claimed fracking was environmentally safe. Sununu has also vetoed bipartisan bills on energy efficiency and increasing the use of solar power. Meanwhile, good-paying solar and other clean energy jobs are being lost thanks to the governor’s lack of leadership.

We desperately need a new direction. If I am elected governor, within my first 30 days, I will convert the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) to the Agency for Climate, Energy and the Environment (ACEE) which will create a citizen-informed New Hampshire Climate Action Plan to coordinate government departments’ efforts to stop climate change. The goal is to make New Hampshire net carbon-neutral in the electrical, transportation, and heating sectors by 2030 through every policy tool available to us, from carbon cash back programs to investing in energy efficiency and renewables to building commuter rail lines to Boston.

In order to realize this clean and justice-focused future, we must say no to new fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Granite Bridge fracked-gas pipeline. Fracking produces methane gas which causes climate change at 80 times the rate of carbon dioxide. Scientists tell us we have 10 years to get climate change under control. Fracked gas stands in the way and that is why I am the only candidate for governor against this pipeline and the only candidate not funded with any corporate PAC money, including from Liberty Utilities, the for-profit company behind the project.

Living in New Hampshire for over 37 years, I know we have something precious here with our mountains, lakes and forests, places I hope to share with my grandchildren. But those paces are endangered by the new weather extremes. The COVID-19 crisis has caused us to realize the fragility of our economy. The climate crisis exposes the fragility of our natural resources. We were caught unprepared by the virus. But we can prepare for the coming climate crisis and build a healthier clean energy economy and environment for all if we have the right vision and leadership.

(Andru Volinsky of Concord is an executive councilor for District 2 and a Democratic candidate for governor.)


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