When you are a student at Appalachian, you get indoctrinated very quickly that students, residents, professors and the town are serious about protecting our mountains, streams and amazing views, because we are nature lovers at heart and tourism greatly impacts the economy in Boone. That passion rubbed off on me in a profound way. Two years ago, my wife and I took serious action and undertook a large solar installation at our home in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, and to do our small contribution to help our state to become more energy efficient. We are thrilled we did so and learned a great deal about issues involved in those efforts. For, example, the company that installed the system at our house was greatly impacted by the State Legislature not renewing tax credits for solar investments for individuals in 2015.

Protecting our Environment. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time—and we must present a plan to tackle it by making America the world’s clean energy superpower, taking bold steps to slash carbon pollution at home and around the world, and ensuring no Americans are left out or left behind as we rapidly build a clean energy economy.

2015 was the warmest year on record—and 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have come just since 2001. Families are seeing the impacts of climate change with their own eyes, particularly in the erratic weather patterns seen here in Central North Carolina.

Already, U.S. carbon pollution has been cut to its lowest level since 1995. Wind power has expanded threefold and solar power 30-fold since 2008. But that’s not enough to tackle the climate challenge, meet America’s carbon pollution reduction goals, or to compete for the $13.5 trillion of global clean energy investments. We must set bold, national goals such as:

Generating enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by 2020.

Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.

Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships and trucks.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent within the next decade.

Fight environmental injustice. Clean air and clean water are basic human rights—they shouldn’t vary between ZIP codes. Yet, too many children in low-income housing are exposed to lead, African American children are twice as likely to suffer from asthma as white children, half of Latinos live in areas where the air quality does not meet EPA’s health standards—and climate change will put vulnerable populations at even greater risk. As your Congressman, I will make environmental justice a priority by working to reduce air pollution, investing in the removal of toxins like lead, developing greener and more resilient infrastructure, tackling energy poverty, and boosting efforts to clean up highly polluted toxic sites.

We must also defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan, which will prevent 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks annually, and efficiency standards for cars, trucks and appliances that are already reducing energy costs for American households and businesses by over $75 billion per year, as well as launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities and give them the tools and resources they need to go beyond federal standards in cutting carbon pollution and expanding clean energy.

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