I certainly do not want to ruin great television, but after two months on Capitol Hill, I can finally tell you what I have long suspected: Congress is not at all like Frank Underwood would have you believe.
I have not had time to binge-watch the latest season of House of Cards, and drink in more of fictitious politician Underwood and his evil schemes. Most likely I will not have time until the August recess. That is not because I have been too busy plotting and posturing, a la Underwood. It is because I have been answering the mail.
In the last two months, nearly 700 constituents have written to me about the delisting of the grey wolf from the Endangered Species List. That is only a couple hundred more than have written to make sure I know of the potential harm from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Many other environmental issues fill the electronic mailbox, including offshore drilling in Virginia, policies to address climate change, concern over hydraulic fracturing, and pleas to further enhance clean water policies, especially for the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. I delight in hearing from so many of you about these critical environmental issues.
I spoke a great deal last year while campaigning for this job about the need to stop the harmful consequences of global climate change. I view this as the existential crisis of our generation, and of course the preeminent environmental issue. Many of the pressing energy and environmental issues we face are spokes on the climate change wheel, such as changing habitats, rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and a drive toward alternative energy. We must find wise, long-term policies that will reverse our damaging impact on the world’s ecosystems.
Elsewhere the need for stronger environmental policies is obvious. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have been in this century. Global temperature changes are causing prolonged droughts, extreme weather events and rising sea levels. More than 7,000 Americans lost their lives to climate change-fueled events last year. Millions more are at risk unless we act to reverse the disastrous effects.
Our legacy will be judged by the quality of the world we leave to our children and grandchildren. We can no longer keep our heads in the sand about the harmful impact our culture of waste is having on the world around us. I promise to use my positions on the House Committees on Natural Resources and Science, Space, and Technology to advocate for policies that leave this place better than it was when we inherited it.
Every day I have the chance to hear from constituents like you. I get to listen to your concerns, learn about the obstacles you face, share your stories and celebrate your successes. I have not had the chance to respond to each of you yet, but I will. And I want you to know that every day that I walk onto the floor of the House I carry your insight and advice with me. Every vote that I cast, I cast because I hope that it will make your life, and our world, a little bit better.
Frank Underwood might disagree with me, but this is what makes this the best job on earth.
Rep. Beyer can be reached through his website at www.beyer.house.gov, on Twitter @RepDonBeyer or his office at (202) 225-4376.