Young voters can save the planet

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For young American voters, hungry for affirmative action on climate change, the Cut Inflation Act of 2022 is cause for celebration. The passage of this historic legislation, which was just signed into law by President Biden, is a signal to young climate activists across the country that unprecedented incremental change is possible.

For the millions of young Americans who flocked to the polls in 2020, many for the first time, it’s a heartening reinforcement that their votes — and their continued political commitment to a healthy planet and healthy communities — are needed to make a difference. crucial.

But where were Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn? Not on their children’s side. By voting against the Cut Inflation Act, they have once again chosen corporate greed and climate denial over the survival of the planet and the health of this and future generations. Over the past decade, thousands of young NextGen America activists have called on their members of Congress to take meaningful action on the climate crisis through appeals, letters and petitions. Time and again, their best hopes were dashed as deals bit the dust.

And yet, despite their attempts to prevent us from saving the future of our planet, we finally have progress. Thanks to our best efforts, with the passage of the Cut Inflation Act, people in our state will have access to jobs that advance clean air and clean energy, and more families will be able to afford their prescription drugs. Our national parks will be revived with long overdue maintenance, and communities of color and underserved communities will benefit from robust environmental justice grants to clean up toxic hazards.

Admittedly, this bill is far from perfect. For those of us who believe that a 100% end to our dependence on fossil fuels is essential to our survival, there are more carrots and loopholes for polluting industries than we would have hoped. But it is nonetheless a substantial down payment on the transformative change that young people, here and around the world, are calling for.

As a Texan and president of NextGen America, the nation’s largest youth electoral organization, I know the passage of the Cut Inflation Act couldn’t have come at a better time. As we approach the halfway point, young voters have been looking for reasons to believe in the process and inspire their peers to go to the polls.

This unprecedented climate action legislation is something we can build on, but only if we continue to increase long-term youth engagement. Our efforts in 2020, which elected President Biden and secured majorities in Congress, made the Cut Inflation Act possible. But this excruciating year of negotiations and the thin edge of victory only underscores that we must deepen our commitments, our organizing skills and our power in the political arena if we are to keep climate disaster at bay.

Fueled by this timely breakthrough, we believe young people will once again defy expectations and show that they are up to the task. At NextGen, we activate our volunteer base of 25,000 and hire more than 140 grassroots organizers across the country to reach and engage more than 9.6 million young voters in swing states like ours. In Texas alone, we are contacting more than 2.6 million young voters ahead of the November election.

Here in Texas, we have an opportunity to elect new, progressive candidates for Congress who will fight for us, rather than condemn us to escalating droughts, fires, heat waves and unsustainable floods. We must expand the ranks of government at all levels with allies who will fight for climate change in an equitable, multiracial democracy.

We know that our lives, the lives of our own children, and the fate of our planet depend on our determination and our success. We don’t want to let them down.

Tzintzún Ramirez is president and chief executive officer of NextGen America. She lives in Austin.

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