December 6, 2021

Oped by HI State Representative Roy Takumi, Air National Guard Veteran First published in Hawaii’s Civil Beat

With the recent passage of the Build Back America Act in the U.S. House, the Senate must pass this landmark legislation with all deliberate speed.

HI State Representative Roy Takumi

After all, as a state we can only do so much on our own. We need to work in partnership with the federal government to help our state reach its climate goals in resiliency and mitigation.

Hawaii was dealt a huge economic blow by the pandemic as we shut down. Tourism was reduced to a trickle.  But the pandemic also gives us the opportunity to reimagine our economy and lessen our dependence on tourism. This is where the BBBA comes in.

BBBA would be the largest ever single investment in our clean energy economy — across buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, agriculture. It would also allow us to implement climate smart practices in our lands and waters.

In Hawaii, the BBBA’s Civilian Climate Corps would enlist a diverse generation with good-paying union jobs in conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience and addressing the changing climate.

The BBBA incentives also would make solar rooftop systems and electric vehicles more affordable for families in Hawaii. In essence, the measure would cut carbon pollution, deliver action on environmental justice and reduce energy bills for working families throughout Hawaii.

The legislation includes more than $550 billion for climate action and would put our country on a path to dramatically cut the pollution driving climate change, while building a just and equitable clean energy economy.

The investments included in the BBBA would set us on a path to a 50-52% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030. That’s the same goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

As a veteran I’m aware that the climate crisis drives conflict and instability around the world. I don’t want to see deployments that result from wars born from climate change events. Instead, we need to wage the war on climate change itself.

Allied countries became united in WWII and mobilized resources to meet impossible and improbable tasks — we can do it again. The beginnings of this took root at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland last month as nations came together. The Senate needs to pass the BBBA to show that the United States can lead this effort worldwide.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to confront the climate crisis, create good-paying clean energy and conservation jobs and to address environmental injustices. We’ve done insurmountable tasks before — we can build back America better again. Let’s do it.