The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life hosted U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) yesterday in Cohen Auditorium for a conversation with professor of economics Gilbert Metcalf, who had previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the Department of Treasury. Markey’s visit to the campus focused on climate change, environmental protection and the politics of the environment within the American government.
Co-sponsoring the event were the Office of the Provost, the Sunrise Movement at Tufts, Tufts Office of Sustainability and the Environmental League of Massachusetts, among others.
Dean of Tisch College Alan Solomont provided opening remarks for the event, during which a group of students shouted “divest from fossil fuels!” and held up a banner displaying the same message.
Following Solomont’s introduction of Markey and Metcalf and their respective professional careers in environmental policy, the event continued without interruption.
Metcalf approached the conversation through a series of questions, ranging from asking about Markey’s work on the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), an act to transition blue collar work in energy from the petroleum industry toward renewable resources.
Metcalf began by asking about ACES and how to face extreme political opposition. Markey said that this earlier bill, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, was over 1,000 pages, and while it had passed successfully in the U.S House of Representatives, it was never brought to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote. Further, the Senator remarked that over $750 million had been spent in lobbying efforts by petroleum companies to kill the bill before it could be voted on by the Senate.
Markey stated that the Green New Deal and its related policies, which he co-authored with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), will eventually pass due to public support. Markey asserts that public opinion will allow policy pertaining to climate change to pass more readily.
Markey spent much of the conversation highlighting his work in passing policy pertaining to telecommunications, making use of two props (a clamshell cellphone and a smartphone) to demonstrate his political activity in telecoms since the 1990s.
Markey further asserted that there were many people in developing regions of the world that owned cellphones and now have better means of communication resulting from Markey’s telecoms efforts in the U.S..
Metcalf then asked Markey about nuclear power and its role in future development in U.S. energy. Markey made clear that fears attached to this form of energy make it less attractive than other forms of renewable energy. Further, Markey made reference to the need for an offshore wind-power facility, emphasizing the jobs that will come with it for New England He referenced the fact that the same “powerful winds” that “brought the pilgrims over” can be harnessed in order to outpace nuclear energy.
In an interview with the Daily, Markey stressed that Tufts students should use their privilege and location to bring good into the world.
“I advise that they should recognize every day that they’re on Tufts campus, that they’re in the upper one-percentile of all the people that have ever lived in the history of the planet, and that they have a great responsibility to use that great gift to advance and benefit everyone who lives in our country and otherwise,” Markey said.
Markey’s seat in the Senate is currently being sought after by Representative Joe Kennedy, who serves Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District.
Asked during a scenario wherein his seat was taken by Rep. Kennedy if his policies would remain represented in government, Markey replied, “I don’t envision that scenario.”
Markey further asserted that in regard to key areas of difference between himself and Kennedy that he had already worked for a considerable time on the frontline for current key issues.
“I’m running on the issues that I’ve been fighting for throughout my career, the issues that I’m fighting for right now, and the issues that I’m going to fight for in the future. It begins with the Green New Deal,” he said. “It also includes net neutrality, a comprehensive immigration strategy for our country and fighting the problem of income inequality in our society.”
Markey ended the conversation with professor Metcalf again urging action to stop climate change.
“The planet is running a fever, and there’s no ER for planets. Solutions are there [and] I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” Markey said.