Growing up on the Oregon Coast, I remember entire summer days spent outside on the beach, camping trips with my family on the Alsea River, campfires and cookouts, cool nights and clear days spent wholly outside.
Now I'm a mom and run a day care center in Portland. I fear my children and the children I care for will not experience these same carefree summers.
This summer, we all felt it: Days when it was simply too hot or too smoky for children to safely play outside. Beyond the professional challenge of figuring out how to keep energized, active children entertained inside all day, I have the kids' health to worry about.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are more susceptible to temperature extremes. They are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults. They are more likely to experience dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke. This summer, Portland broke records for most days at or above 90 degrees, with heat waves so intense it simply wasn't safe to let my kids play outside some afternoons.
Then there's the wildfire smoke. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, children's health is more threatened by wildfire smoke than adults. This past summer, Portland was plagued with poor air quality for days at a time. For my child-care provider colleagues in Southern Oregon, their kids couldn't play outside for practically the entire summer due to nearly continuous smoky conditions.
Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree climate change is real, and it's not hard to see they're right. But there's something we can do to prevent this from becoming normal: We can pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill.
The Clean Energy Jobs bill is a policy under consideration by Oregon's Legislature to cap and price climate pollution, and reinvest in Oregon's clean energy economy. It's the single-biggest climate action we can take as a state.
Under Clean Energy Jobs, major polluters would pay for every ton of climate pollution they emit. So it's not a cap for small businesses like mine, or the grocery store or the florist; it's huge greenhouse gas polluters. Proceeds from the cap would be invested in clean energy projects and jobs across the state.
I can see how investments would help businesses like mine and families in communities everywhere. Clean Energy Jobs could reduce my day care's energy bills by helping me install rooftop solar, increasing insulation and taking other steps to weatherize, keeping heat in on cold days, and cool air in on hot days.
I could improve my air filtration systems to ensure that when the air quality is poor outside, it stays as clean as possible inside. I could upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances and lighting — all steps that are relatively simple, but right now have a big up-front cost.
Clean Energy Jobs would make these upgrades more accessible and put fellow Oregonians to work at good-paying jobs in the clean economy.
Join me in telling your lawmaker that it's time we step up with bold solutions. Passing Clean Energy Jobs is one of the most important things we can do to reduce emissions and help Oregon transition to a clean-energy economy. I'll be voting in November, along with so many of my neighbors. I'll be asking my candidates if they will vote yes on Clean Energy Jobs.
Let's stop waiting and start acting. Let's pass Clean Energy Jobs in 2019 — for my kids and yours.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.