After serving as President Obama’s top adviser on climate and energy policy at the White House, I am optimistic about our country's ability to lead a global effort combating climate change. 

However, I also know that, if we’re going to get this right, it’s critical that we have the right kind of leaders in Washington. That’s why I’m so excited about the United States Senate candidacy of P.G. Sittenfeld - a dynamic Democratic candidate running in Ohio.

ADVERTISEMENT

Let me start by introducing Sittenfeld in his own words. Here’s what he wrote in a recent Huffington Post column:

Our planet is warming at a dangerous rate. Extreme weather threatens our lives, our health, our economy, and our national security. Every Ohioan will pay a price for the failure to act. I say enough fear-mongering from polluting industries and the politicians who are doing their bidding instead of protecting public health and the environment. It is time we had a new generation of leaders in Washington who were up to the challenge of protecting the environment for future generations.

I couldn’t agree more. We need leaders, like Sittenfeld, who are ready to seize the future on one of the defining issues of our time.

During my years at the White House, and still today, I was always puzzled at the false choice offered by so many climate change deniers in Congress: that if we do what’s right for the environment, negative economic trade-offs must somehow be inevitable. 

Nonsense.

Like the president and other forward-looking leaders on climate, Sittenfeld realizes that embracing a sustainable future isn’t just good for the environment and for our health, it’s also good for our economy, good for job-creation, and good for lowering utility bills.

I am also impressed that Sittenfeld already has a strong record of getting things done as an elected leader at the local level, ranging from passing Cincinnati’s Energy Aggregation initiative - which resulted in the city supplying residents with 100-percent renewable-back energy - to spearheading smart incentives for sustainable development. Sittenfeld’s demonstrated commitment to our land, air, and water earned him the distinction of being the youngest-ever board member of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, as well as the chair of the Environmental Sustainability committee at Cincinnati City Hall.

But while I admire what Sittenfeld has already accomplished, I’m even more excited about the future impact I believe he can have in Washington.

He is the only candidate in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race who has both opposed the Canadian Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and come out in favor of the EPA’s historic Clean Power Plan, the commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, both actions that will help curb climate change.

As Sittenfeld has said, we can’t afford to have “Democrats who sit on the sidelines remaining silent about the pressing environmental issues of our day. The cautious approach to politics will not do. The moment demands more of us.”

I have devoted my career to trying to craft and implement smart public policies that will protect our planet, our health, and our economy. For those who care as much as I do about taking bold action on climate change and ushering in a new era of environmental leaders, we don’t just want more people like PG Sittenfeld in the United States Senate - we need Sittenfeld and real leaders like him. 

Zichal is former deputy assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, and one of the architects of President Obama’s National Climate Action Plan.