Interview with Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

<em>Rep. Fitzpatrick at Moms Clean Air Force Play-In for Climate Action</em>
Rep. Fitzpatrick at Moms Clean Air Force Play-In for Climate Action

American parents are struggling to determine how they can best protect their children from the actions of an administration that has aligned itself with the interests of fossil fuels. The clearest path to making their voices heard is to reach out to their hyperlocal representatives. At the recent Moms Clean Air Force Play-In for Climate Action, senators and those from the House on both sides of the aisle were present.

Since the inception of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which I first wrote about in 2016, it has continued to grow.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, spoke at the “Play-In” event, to show his support for reaching resolutions that have input from both sides of the aisle. I reached out to him to learn more about his positions and current actions in the environmental sphere:

What motivated you to join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus?

As an Eagle Scout and conservationist, who grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I’ve always been captivated by the natural beauty of our open spaces and wild places. We have it all here: preserved farm land, amazing parks, expansive forests, historic rivers. With these features comes a special responsibility to care for and protect our natural resources at the local, state, and federal level. I believe our natural environment is worth protecting. Climate change and the irresponsible management of our resources put a strain on the health of our communities — and our children. Clean air and clean water are essential to the health, safety, and development of the next generation of Americans.

You recently were named the 2017 recipient of the Climate Leadership Award presented by the bipartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby. One of your top actions was to call on President Trump to remain in the Paris Accords. Can you elaborate?

Washington needs independent voices now more than ever – especially when it comes to the environment and public health. I urged the current administration to keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement. It is imperative that we maintain our seat at the table in global discussions of how to address the threats posed by climate change. I share Secretary of Defense Mattis’ view that climate change must be addressed proactively and head-on, and I agree with both our Secretary of State and Secretary of Energy that retaining our seat at this table is vitally important.

The current administration is working to defund the work of the EPA, including rolling back the Clean Power Plan, expanding drilling for fossil fuels on public lands, and the use of the pesticide chlorpyriphos, which can impact cognitive child development (and has been detected in children who are living near crops that have been treated). Where do you stand on these issues? (I did see that you voted no on  H.J.Res.36)

Leaders on both sides of the aisle must take serious and reasonable steps to protect our planet. While there is room for debate and discussion on the issue, it is vital that we never politicize protecting our environment or let partisanship prevent Washington from accomplishing common goals. To that extent, I joined 16 other House Republicans on a resolution [H.Res.195] for using American innovation to improve environmental policy and ‘to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment.’ I’ve also voted to protect some rules like the Methane Rule and the Stream Protection Rule. I’ve voted against, H.R.953, allowing exemptions to the Clean Water Act, which would allow the permitting of point-source discharge of pesticides into navigable waters.

How has your district specifically been impacted by Climate Change?

Specifically, air quality has impacted my district. The Pennsylvania 8th district covers all of Bucks County and portions of Montgomery County. These two counties received an “F” for air quality in the American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report, two of nine counties in the state to receive such a grade. It’s something that’s not really been given a whole lot of attention, but volunteers from Moms Clean Air Force brought this issue to my attention during a local meeting in January. We need to get to the bottom of this, and it’s definitely something people in the community should know.

What advice do you have for parents who are concerned about their children’s health issues, as a result of potential relaxation of regulations on clean air?

I encourage parents to continue lobbying their elected officials with new information. I want to let each parent know that what you say and what you share with your elected officials is not lost on us. Our job, first and foremost, is to keep an open mind and listen to the concerns of constituents. Calls, letters, e-mails, in-person office visits — they all matter.

This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.

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