Washington, D.C. – The anniversary of Earth Day today reminds us of 40 years of progress toward improving the state of our planet and highlights the need to move forward with stronger, smarter protections in the 21st century, Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4)  said today. Legislation he has supported during his first term in Congress is helping reduce energy costs for Connecticut residents and will, in time, reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.

“In the four decades since the first Earth Day in 1970, we have made remarkable progress in the fight to protect our planet, but today we face the most critical moment of all for environmental protection,” said Himes. “Our reliance on foreign fossil fuels threatens our national security, our environment, and our economy. We must continue working to be the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy to ensure the United States is the country that leads the 21st century.”

Congress has taken on the challenge of energy independence from many angles. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Clean Energy and Security Act, and other legislation are all working together to improve our national security, create jobs, and protect the environment.

The Recovery Act included more than $80 billion in clean energy investments, such as funding to build a bigger, smarter electricity grid; providing incentives for expanding manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology; and advancing vehicle and fuel technologies. In fact, the wind industry grew its capacity nearly 40 percent in 2009, far surpassing expectations that existed prior to the passage of the Recovery Act.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act took a powerful and historic step toward a wholly new approach to energy in our country. Once passed by the Senate and signed into law, its reforms will help create 1.7 million clean energy jobs, finally end our nation’s dangerous addiction to foreign oil, and begin to curb the harmful effects of climate change.

Congress, with the support of Himes, has taken great steps to help protect our natural resources, especially those in Connecticut. For example, this past year, Congress increased funding for the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act to $15 million, up from $3 million previously. Additionally, the sweeping and significant Public Land Management Act signed into law by the president last March will strengthen our National Parks, improve the health of our forests, ensure better management of our public lands, and increase the quantity and quality of water provided to numerous local communities.

“These are significant victories for the cause of environmental protection, but much work remains,” said Himes. “Be assured that I will continue to work diligently on these measures and on any other that will help ensure the beauty and stability of our environment and our country.”