WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement to recognize the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

“As our nation faces the public health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, on this 50th Earth Day, we are reminded that we are all connected. We are reminded that we are all counting on each other to do the right thing, and that our small choices can make a big difference in the world around us. We are reminded that each and every one of us has an important role in keeping our air, water and land free of pollution and ensuring our children and grandchildren have a healthy planet to call home.

“The world looked different fifty years ago than it does today. I was a young naval flight officer stationed at the former Moffett Field air station, preparing for my first of three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. As the United States waged a war abroad, we also faced a worsening environmental crisis here at home. The Cuyahoga River had become a river of fire flowing through Cleveland, Ohio. Factories spewed toxic fumes and industries polluted our air and water with impunity. Thick smog suffocated our communities and garbage littered our shores.

“As our country’s environmental crisis mounted, millions of people came together one April day and committed to fight for the health of our collective environment and our planet. From that day forward, we have celebrated every April 22 as Earth Day to renew that shared commitment.

“Our nation’s first-ever Earth Day was a consequential moment for my life. I went on to serve in the very same United States Senate where Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, once served. Decades after that day in Golden Gate State Park, I now have the opportunity to serve as the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“That first Earth Day was a consequential moment for our nation, too. That year, President Richard Nixon created a federal agency with the mission to protect the environment and public health—the Environmental Protection Agency. In the decades that followed, our nation enacted the bedrock environmental laws and protections upon which Americans still rely today – from the National Environmental Policy Act, to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“Although we have made important strides in the stewardship of our planet over the past fifty years, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure clean air and safe water for everyone. Our world may look different now, but we still face real threats to environmental quality—from the climate crisis, including rising sea levels and worsening weather events, to the current presidential administration, which continues to reject science, weaken environmental protections and undermine the progress made over the past 50 years.

“While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I believe we can ensure the future of our planet and overcome this global pandemic if we are guided by science and by our faith, if we refuse to give up and if we work together. If we can do that, no challenge will be insurmountable.”