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Congressman Joe Morelle announces action on climate emergency resolution

Noelle E. C. Evans
Congressman Joe Morelle speaks at Cobbs Hill Reservoir on Wednesday.

Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle announced Wednesday that he is taking action on climate change.

“There is no greater threat facing humanity, and there’s probably never been a greater threat ever to face humanity," Morelle said.

Morelle said he is sponsoring the Climate Emergency Resolution that Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced last month. He’s also endorsing multiple environmental bills.

“I also sponsor legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the Trump admininistration has repeatedly attempted to severely cut," Morelle said, "as well as legislation to safeguard our local water supplies, encourage the growth of environmentally friendly technologies and much more.”

Those measures would close loopholes for fossil fuel companies in the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and put a price on carbon emissions.

Al Hibner with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby said that carbon emission fees have been in the works for over a decade.

"For 12 years now, we’ve been laser-focused on having legislation introduced and passed in Congress that would put a fee on CO2 and equivalent emissions," Hibner said.

According to that proposed legislation, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, revenue from those fees would be distributed to lawful residents and citizens in monthly dividends. Hibner said the bipartisan bill is a triumph.

"This is the most congressional support that any carbon-pricing bill has ever received," he said.

That bill has been introduced but has yet to pass the House of Representatives.

High school student Liam Smith is a member of the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders, a student-led environmental advocacy group. He said that while his generation will grow up with the effects of climate change, they have no voice to stop it politically.

"We can’t vote. We can’t hold elected office. Sometimes elected officials won’t listen to us," Smith said. "The unfortunate reality about being a child is that our interests are inherently underrepresented in government."

Credit Noelle E. C. Evans
Liam Smith is a member of the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders.

He added that the fallout from climate change would be catastrophic for him and his peers.

"We will endure the effects of a chaotic and rapidly changing climate," Smith said. "We will be subjected to drought, famine, increasingly severe storms and wildfires, worse air pollution, increased prevalence of insect-borne diseases, coastal flooding, climate refugee crisis."

"My generation is destined to endure the worst of climate change, and we have no power to stop it," he said.