Decades from now, I know that our environment will be viewed as one of the defining questions of our time. At the moment of crisis, were we willing to confront the challenges facing our natural world? Were we willing to protect the lands that provide our drinking water and grow our food? Were we willing to keep the air we breathe healthy and clean? We were able to enact the policies necessary unshackle us from the yoke of polluting, dirty energy? Or did we yield to the skeptics and the naysayers when their voices grew loudest and shrillest? I believe that my record in office and the depth of my convictions speak to belief in those basic principles.
It was environmental advocacy that first got me interested me in politics. As a 24-year-old member of my local Planning and Zoning Commission, I got involved in a movement to oppose the placement of a new power plant on fragile community wetlands. My neighbors and I called on our State Representative to assist us in our fight, but he wouldn’t listen. So, I decided to run an uphill battle for the General Assembly myself. I challenged that State Representative, and when I won, the first bill I introduced was legislation empowering local governments to have a say when it comes to the development of wetlands. It’s that commitment that’s driven me throughout my time in public office.
As the Chairman of the bipartisan House Land Conservation Caucus, I’ve been a leader in working across the aisle to promote commonsense land preservation ideas. I’ve helped lead the fight to make it easier for private landowners and farmers to donate and preserve their lands for future generations. Open space protection is an issue that transcends partisan boundaries, and we’ve done real work with both sides of the aisle – ensuring clean drinking water and preserving public parks shouldn’t be Republican or Democratic issues.
That’s why I passed into law a bill to protect Connecticut's beloved Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett (MMM) Trail. My legislation designated it as only the ninth scenic trail in the 40- year history of National Trails System, providing important conservation and management resources to preserve the trail.
If we want to make our state truly more attractive for young people, new families, and businesses, we need to provide alternatives to the gridlock that too often grips our highways. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the New Haven – Hartford commuter rail line, so that we can better link central Connecticut with our shoreline rail infrastructure.
In Congress, I’ve also been a leader in the fight against global warming. The facts are clear, and those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of man-made climate change are not only failing to protect our environment, they're waging a war on science itself. Northeastern states like Connecticut have already done important work on their own to limit greenhouse gas emissions, but they need a reliable partner at the federal level to help drive investments in clean, renewable technologies. Embracing new, alternative sources of energy not only means goods things for our air and our ecosystems, it means jobs: cutting-edge jobs in the high-tech manufacturing fields that our state has always excelled in.