This year for Earth Month, Moms Clean Air Force is honoring climate champions who are working hard to fight for the health and future of our children.
Our Michigan field organizer, Elizabeth Hauptman, interviewed Senator Gary Peters about his work in Congress fighting air pollution and climate change, and why it’s important to protect the health of Michigan’s families now and for the future.
As we celebrate another Earth Day in April, what are your priorities to tackle climate change to protect the planet, our children, and future generations?
As communities in Michigan and across the world commemorate Earth Day, we must recognize that human caused climate change is already exacting a toll on our communities, our Great Lakes, and our planet, and that we must take action to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Through my role on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I released a report showing how extreme weather events are already costing taxpayers trillions of dollars. Addressing the threat of climate change isn’t just cost-effective: it’s an opportunity to create new jobs, improve public health, empower innovation and strengthen our economy. Here in Michigan, we’ve seen how shoreline erosion is devastating communities that rely on the Great Lakes each and every day. That’s why I worked to pass a bill into law the STORM Act, which allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund and help states establish revolving loan funds that could be used by local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk including shoreline erosion and rising water levels. Climate change poses an existential threat that we must address – and I’ll continue working to do so.
This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth,” and Moms are fighting for Justice in Every Breath. How do the themes of restoring, rebuilding, and advocating for equity in climate action resonate with you, personally, and professionally?
Unfortunately, in Michigan we already know the consequences of failing to take action to protect clean air and water. Our sewers, ports and pipes are in desperate need of repair, and children’s asthma rates are disproportionately high, particularly in communities of color. That’s why I’m committed to improving and investing in our water infrastructure and fighting for environmental justice so that every Michigander – no matter who you are or where you live – has access to clean air, safe drinking water and secure food sources.
Senator Gary Peters has represented the State of Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 2015. He has focused on uniting our communities by fighting for the things we all agree on — a stronger economy, a healthy climate, good-paying jobs, affordable health care, a secure retirement and an opportunity for everyone to succeed.
Gary was born in Pontiac, Michigan. His father, a World War II veteran, worked as a public school teacher and NEA union member for more than 30 years. His mother – who survived Nazi occupation of France and met Gary’s father while he served in Europe during the war – worked as a nurse’s aide at a local nursing home. She helped organize her workplace and became an SEIU union steward. Growing up, Gary learned the importance of hard work and fairness from his parents. He started his own small business delivering newspapers at age 11. In junior high, he bused tables at a Big Boy restaurant, and in high school and college, he worked at a local retailer and on a grounds crew. Gary is an Eagle Scout and in 2019, he was humbled to receive the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
Gary and his wife, Colleen, live in Oakland County and have three children: Gary Jr., Madeleine and Alana.