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Rep. Neguse tries to get Capitol Hill to go green by following Summit County's example

By Summit Daily Staff Writer, Deepan Dutta

FRISCO — Summit County’s push to go 100% carbon free is having an influence on the rest of the country — even out on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, introduced a resolution in Congress that would transition the United States Capitol complex to exclusively use renewable energy sources. The resolution is meant to follow the lead of Summit and other communities across Colorado that have committed to switching to 100% renewable energy.

Neguse, a member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, introduced the Green Government resolution with 14 freshmen colleague co-sponsors. In a news release announcing the resolution, Neguse said he drew inspiration from Summit and other cities and counties in Colorado looking to turn the tide on climate change.

“This resolution follows the example they have set, as well as the example of local communities and cities across America, including Washington, D.C., to address the climate crisis,” Neguse said. “We must be the generation that solves this crisis.”

In an interview with the Summit Daily, Neguse said the foundation of the resolution was the increasingly catastrophic impact climate change is having on Colorado, especially to the wilderness and mountain areas that have been plagued by damaging wildfire seasons.

“I firmly believe that climate change is the existential threat of our time,” Neguse said. “We need comprehensive and systemic change to curb emissions in a way that helps us grapple with planetary crisis.”

The resolution is also meant to get the Capitol to comport with the standards set by the city that surrounds it. In January, Washington, D.C., city government passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act, which set the goal of getting 100% of the city’s electricity from renewable sources by 2032.

“In Washington, D.C., we have said all along that we will continue to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said in the news release. “Already, we have positioned the District as the nation’s preeminent leader in green energy by mandating 100% clean electricity by 2032 and committing DC to become carbon neutral by 2050.”

Because the Capitol building is in federal jurisdiction, it is not required to align with those goals, and Neguse said his resolution intends to push that alignment.

While switching to renewable electricity sources might be considered a laudable goal in trying to address climate change, Neguse is cognizant of the fact that it is certainly not the only effort needed to go green overall. While watching the impeachment hearings at his office in the Capitol building, Neguse said he noticed all the water bottles strewn on tables around the room during the proceedings. He said it reminded him that going green needed a multifaceted approach.

“I would say there’s no panacea to the climate and environment crisis,” Neguse said. “It’s going to be a combination of different steps at the local, state, federal and international levels that we need to take collectively. We need to continue to push on items that are larger in scope, yet practical enough to practice every day.”

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