Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

When I lived in Ecuador, I grew up surrounded by vibrant life; beautiful exotic plants and animals that would make anyone fall in love with our planet. When I moved to Miami, I felt a similar appreciation and love for our unique ecosystems like the Everglades, and our stunning coastlines—areas that would make anyone want to commit to protecting our planet. But when I am exploring the Everglades with my children, or scuba diving along our barrier reef, I can’t help but worry that future generations will not be able to experience these natural wonders if we do not take action to flight climate change now.

The wildlife we’ve fallen in love with across the world is in danger. The UN recently reported that one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, threatening the well-being of ecosystems across the world, including agriculture we rely on.

As global temperatures rise, and toxins pollute our air and water, we are rapidly losing these beautiful ecosystems in South Florida, and we are putting our health at risk. Last year, we saw toxic algae blooms and red tides across our state, threatening our water and our tourism industry. If we continue to allow polluters to contaminate our water with no repercussions, our

environment will continue to suffer from algal blooms and pollution.

Inaction on climate change is not an option for South Florida. Our community has the most vulnerable homes to climate change in the entire country. As sea levels rise, South Florida drowns. Flooding becomes more intense every year and storms cause more and more devastation with each hurricane season.

After decades of inaction on the climate crisis that is wreaking havoc on our planet, we elected new leaders to Congress to take swift action against climate change. When I ran for office, I promised I would work to protect our coastlines, fund Everglades restoration, and save our coral reefs. Now, just months into my first year in office, I’m proud to have kept that promise by advocating for clean water, preservation of the Everglades and coral reefs, and more environmentally-innovative water infrastructure. I fought for an additional public meeting in Monroe County so the Army Corps of Engineers could hear directly from the people impacted by the Lake Okeechobee water levels their plan would affect.

As vice chair of the Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee on the Transportation & Infra-structure Committee, I will fight for healthy Everglades. That’s why I’m insisting Congress fully fund Everglades Restoration — the full $200 million — so the Everglades can continue providing us with clean water, protecting our homes from floods, and sustaining one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country. Last week, I introduced the Water Infrastructure Sustainability and Efficiency (WISE) Act, legislation to lessen the impacts of storm water and invest more in green technologies. As we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, we must increase our resiliency and keep fighting against the devastating effects of climate change.

Reducing carbon emissions will bring our economy into the 21st century and create sustainable, green jobs. I voted to keep America in the Paris Climate Agreement so we can rejoin the rest of the modern world in committing to a greener and cleaner future. We can save our planet, create new jobs – jobs that we don’t even know will exist in the future – all while growing our

economy.

There’s no denying the reality: Climate change is real, and it is already hurting South Florida. Soon, the damage will be irreversible if we do not take immediate and thoughtful action. While we’ve taken many steps to combat the climate crisis and protect clean water, that is just the beginning of my agenda for the 116th Congress. I am advocating for resilient infrastructure, including stronger sea walls, safer septic tanks, a plan to reach zero carbon emissions, and a modern, green economy that leaves no one behind.

We still have time to make investments in our environment that can allow our Sunshine State to thrive. If we invest in new technologies now and fight for lower emissions, we can still win the fight against climate change tomorrow.

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell represents FL-26 district.

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