Earth Day

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, progress has been made in raising environmental awareness. In Washington that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. Congress passed, on a bipartisan basis, landmark laws protecting the environment including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Also in 1970, Vermont started its own environmental awareness and cleanup day with its first "Green Up Day," which falls on May 3 this year. The enormous challenge today, o

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, progress has been made in raising environmental awareness. In Washington that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. Congress passed, on a bipartisan basis, landmark laws protecting the environment including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Also in 1970, Vermont started its own environmental awareness and cleanup day with its first "Green Up Day," which falls on May 3 this year. The enormous challenge today, of course, is the crisis of climate change and the urgent need to stop global warming, Senator Bernie Sanders told a Vermont conference on environmental law.

"To be blunt," Sanders said in the recent keynote address, "the problem is even worse than many have previously suggested, but while we face a tremendous challenge, we also a face tremendous opportunity," Sanders said.

Speaking to the National Association of Environmental Law Societies at the Vermont Law School, Sanders called for a commitment to reverse climate change commensurate to the space program that put men on the moon.

"We can strengthen our economy, create millions of good-paying jobs, protect our environment for future generations, and reduce threats to public health by addressing global warming," he said.

Last year, Congress took a step forward when it passed an energy bill that for the first time in 30 years raised fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. The energy bill also set a course for more efficient lighting. When the new standards take effect, consumers will save an estimated $6 billion per year on their lighting costs and, in the process, avoid the equivalent of pollution from 24 new coal-fired power plants.

Sanders, a member of both the environment and energy committees, crafted a provision in the bill that created a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, It will support grassroots efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions, lower total energy use, and improve energy efficiency. Another Sanders provision in the bill created a grant program to support work at colleges and universities to get students and local communities involved in efforts to develop renewable, alternative energy sources. He also worked with Senator Hillary Clinton on a provision to build a "green jobs" workforce trained in jobs related to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To watch Sen. Sanders in a press conference on Earth Day, click here.