Columnist Johanna Neumann: Ed Markey is our ace on the mound

  • In this Feb. 20, 2017, file photo are Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. AP

Published: 7/3/2020 6:00:24 PM
Modified: 7/3/2020 6:00:11 PM

In the absence of baseball for most of this summer, I’m grateful that politics has at least some aspects of America’s pastime. In baseball, like in politics, some players are clutch. They come through in big moments. Big Papi did this time and again for Red Sox nation.

There are clutch players in politics too. When voters across the Pioneer Valley cast their votes in the Democratic primary on Sept. 1, I hope you join me in casting your votes for a true ace — Ed Markey.

This year’s national election is the major leagues. The stakes are sky high.

We’re living in uncertain times, with great challenges and great opportunities. Changes in public opinion are making governmental action on many issues possible that felt unimaginable just a few years ago. Real and significant federal action to protect our environment — to tackle climate change, clean up the air we breathe and ensure clean water to drink and recreate in — are all within reach.

For these times, we need legislators that combine passion and experience. That’s especially true in the U.S. Senate, where seniority, smarts and a willingness to do the hard work of building coalitions instead of preening for the press makes all the difference.

Markey has those qualities and much more. He is steadfast. He was an environmental champion long before supporting the environment was cool or trendy. Here’s a list of some of his significant contributions to the environmental movement:

■ Markey led efforts against nuclear power from the beginning. As early as 1980 he called for a moratorium on nuclear power plants and led the charge for solar and renewable energy. He was vigilant over the years in supporting nuclear safety and holding the Nuclear Regulatory Committee accountable.

■Along with Congressman Henry Waxman, Markey championed the Markey/Waxman climate bill in 2009. It was the first time a bill aiming to ban global warming pollution was voted on in Congress. Notably, Markey passed this bill with support from Republican House members from four other states.

■In 2007, then-Congressman Markey led the fight to make sure cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas by improving fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. This was the first time these standards had been expanded in decades.

■ Markey was instrumental in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, supporting the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency programs, and advancing weatherization programs.

■To this day, Markey continues to be a champion on climate action — he aims high with bold goals — cosponsoring the Green New Deal alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while also managing to stay in the weeds to pass and defend bills that incrementally move the needle toward a clean energy future, such as appliance efficiency standards.

■ Markey acts to address local problems in Massachusetts. He is the original coauthor of the Superfund law, the federal law that makes sure polluters pay to clean up hazardous waste. He saw firsthand from a cancer cluster in Woburn what happens to a community where pollution goes unchecked. To this day, Markey is a steadfast champion to protect kids from toxic chemicals.

Markey’s track record to protect our environment and public health is a big reason why New England’s leading environmentalists, including Environment Massachusetts, 350 Mass Action, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sunrise Movement, along with over 70 percent of the members of the Massachusetts legislature, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Ocasio-Cortez have all endorsed him for reelection.

My colleague, Environment Massachusetts Director Ben Hellerstein, recently said “We’re lucky to have one of the nation’s strongest climate champions, Ed Markey, representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. Thanks to Senator Markey, our air is cleaner, our children are healthier, and we are producing more and more of America’s energy from the sun and the wind. At this moment of great urgency, there’s no one better than Ed Markey to fight for clean air, a safe climate, and a healthy future.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In baseball, the general manager decides who plays. In politics it’s us, the voters. Now is not the time to put an untested rookie on the mound. This is a major game in the major leagues. We need a clutch veteran like Pedro Martinez. We need our time-tested ace who has come through for Massachusetts time and time again. We need Markey.

As you’re doing your homework on who to vote for, I urge you to send Markey, a proven leader and environmental champion, back to the U.S. Senate to continue his work on our behalf.

Johanna Neumann, of Amherst, has spent the past two decades working to protect our air, water and open spaces, defend consumers in the marketplace and advance a more sustainable economy and democratic society. She can be reached at

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