EDITOR’S NOTE: On July 29, the U.S. Senate Setting and Public Works Committee held a listening to, “Classes Realized from Distant Working throughout COVID-19: Can the Authorities Save Cash Via Maximizing Environment friendly Use of Leased House?” Beneath is rating member Sen. Carper’s opening assertion.
By Sen. Thomas Carper
Good morning. Thanks, Mr. Chairman, for holding this listening to to give attention to a number of the impacts of telework. I might additionally prefer to welcome and thank our witnesses for becoming a member of us this morning.
It goes with out saying that virtually each side of our lives has radically modified over the past six months. As people and as a rustic, now we have been compelled to adapt to the “new regular” in our lives, from carrying masks and coughing in our sleeves, to working towards protected social distancing and way more. For tens of millions of Individuals, one of many greatest modifications and challenges has been adjusting to the “new regular” of telework.
Relating to discovering options for powerful issues, I usually say that we should always discover out what works and do extra of that. The sudden shift to implementing versatile work methods like telework throughout the federal authorities has given us a chance to look at how these various strategies really work — or don’t work. That is our alternative to search out out what works and do extra of that. What we study telework in the present day will basically form how we view and implement telework as a rustic, from now into the longer term.
One of many companies beneath the jurisdiction of our committee is the Normal Companies Administration, which operates federal constructing area. I hope that the testimony we hear in the present day will shed some mild about using personal area, like folks’s properties, throughout telework, which might present new insights about how we function federal buildings. With greater than 350,000 buildings, the federal authorities is the nation’s largest client of vitality. What we study telework in the present day might assist us work out how you can occupy and function federal constructing area extra effectively and, in the end, cut back our nation’s carbon footprint.
One other space of concern for this committee is the affect of telework on our surroundings — particularly on air high quality. As our witness from California will describe in better element, throughout the nation communities which can be usually cloaked in smog are actually respiratory cleaner air and experiencing the constructive results of extensively diminished journey.
For too lengthy, now we have witnessed the dangerous results of air air pollution on public well being and high quality of life for thus many Individuals, particularly these in our most weak communities. I consider we must be doing no matter we are able to, as quickly as we are able to, to scale back emissions related to how we journey. That may embrace lowering journey demand throughout rush hour, by means of telework insurance policies. It additionally consists of lowering car emissions by means of gasoline financial system requirements and thru the electrification of the automobiles, vehicles and vans that we drive, the biggest sources of world warming air pollution in our nation.
One other essential solution to cut back travel-related emissions is by investing in multimodal, low-emission transportation decisions, reminiscent of transit, biking and strolling. Put collectively, these insurance policies of telework, transit, Company Common Gasoline Financial system requirements, and electrification could make a significant distinction in assuaging smog, easing congestion and lowering climate-changing emissions, each throughout a pandemic and afterward, when this scourge is a fading reminiscence.
As you recognize, Mr. Chairman, I usually prefer to quote Albert Einstein, who as soon as stated, “In adversity lies alternative.” I’ve been excited about that quote so much over the previous few months, as a result of our nation is going through great adversity. Whereas extraordinarily difficult and tragic, this pandemic has additionally supplied us with a real-life case research on the results of diminished travel-related emissions. I stay up for studying extra about how we are able to translate these successes into long-term methods to assist us handle local weather change.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, the Homeland Safety and Authorities Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal workforce points, held a listening to yesterday on points similar to those we’re taking over in the present day. I stay up for drilling down on it once more in the present day with you, members of this committee, and members of the HSGAC Committee as we proceed adjusting to this “new regular.” Working collectively, I hope we are able to determine greatest practices that can maximize using federal constructing area, enhance employee morale and productiveness, and cut back dangerous air air pollution.
Thomas Carper, a Democrat, is the senior U.S. senator from Delaware.