Tsongas Urges Students to Go Green

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas encouraged the Andover community to embrace sustainability and discussed her initiatives on environmental protection last Friday. Tsongas is currently the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district, which includes the town of Andover. She also serves as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees legislation pertaining to domestic energy production, rivers, forests, oceans and wilderness areas. Tsongas said, “We have a lot more to do to help out the environment and the stakes of not getting involved is too high.” “It is the responsibility of our generation to take a comprehensive approach to conserve the environment, whether it is at the individual, local, or national level. Environmental protection is vital for our security and health, and promoting responsible, green policies has been a priority of my office,” she continued. According to Tsongas, the American Clean Energy and Security Act aims to reduce carbon emissions with the use of a cap-and-trade program, a system that requires greenhouse gas emitters to pay for their pollution and promotes alternative clean energy technologies and resources. Tsongas said, “While the measures taken by Congress over the years to promote environmental protection and clean energy have been vital, the most comprehensive approach will come as the House of Representatives considers the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which I believe is one of the most important bills to be proposed for our environment.” “The government must continue funding for alternative energy resources that will both drive our economy and protect our environment. It is important that we produce clean, sustainable, and innovative technologies and resources that will not only address current environmental challenges such as global warming but will also create new, sustainable jobs,” she continued. “This will also allow us to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, which we currently import from some of the most unstable parts of the world,” she added. Tsongas concluded her presentation by expressing her hope for individuals to take an interest in preserving the environment. “I hope people will become more aware as many environmental issues become more evident and prevalent in our society,” said Tsongas. “I want to encourage people to get involved in protecting the environment even if that means doing things as simple as unplugging electronic devices or turning off light bulbs not in use,” Tsongas continued. Following Tsongas’s presentation, students and faculty had the opportunity to ask follow up questions. Many students felt that Tsongas left many issues unaddressed. Thea Raymond-Sidel ’12 said, “Ms. Tsongas’s speech talked a big game in what she was trying to do as far as energy conservation and sustainability in Washington was concerned, but some of the legitimate and critical questions brought up by the audience went unanswered, and she talked around making real, bold statements about what she will do in Washington and where her true beliefs lie.” Julianna Wessels ’12 said, “I realize that being a politician is a tough job that puts you in difficult positions, but I just wish she had been a little more confident and risqué by sharing her own thoughts and opinions rather than giving us predictable answers and information that we could have googled.” Nonetheless, other audience members found her speech informative and interesting. Benjamin Krapels ’12, whose parents organized Tsongas’s visit to Andover, said, “It was interesting to learn about what Congresswoman Tsongas has done in Massachusetts and where climate legislation is going in this country.” Christiana Nguyen ’13 said, “Congresswoman Tsongas made several points regarding sustainability and the environment that were very similar to the arguments that Annie Leonard made on Wednesday’s All-School Meeting, and it was interesting to see an overlap in opinion from the perspective of a politician and the perspective of an environmental activist.”