Opinion: Tom Reed – Incompetent or Corrupt?

Tom Reed: Incompetent or Corrupt? I want to pose this question to the 23rd Congressional District of New York; is Tom Reed just incompetent or is he a corrupt bureaucrat? I ask this because recently I emailed Congressman Reed asking him to use his influence and leadership as this area’s Representative to urge our New York State Senators to vote on and pass the Community Leadership and Climate Protection Act (CCPA). I told him how I am an atmospheric science PhD student at Cornell University, and how important it is for New York to pass this legislation. Despite his unwillingness to do so, New York did indeed pass the CCPA.

However, I did receive a written response from Congressman Reed. While I sincerely appreciate that he (or perhaps a staffer) took the time to respond to my message, there was something in it that made me seriously question whether Tom Reed is incredibly incompetent and oblivious or if he is downright corrupt. In his letter to me, Mr. Reed said, “While I recognize the reality of climate change, the causes are debatable. It is important that we ensure the facts prevail.” 

So, Congressman, I present you with the facts. As a member of the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Reed has an astronomical amount of resources at his disposal. Did you know that over 13 federal agencies participated in the creation of the 4th National Climate Assessment that was released last year? The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, State, and Transportation, in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian, and the U.S. Agency for International Development all participated in the creation of this document. Not to mention the hundreds of experts from institutions around the country that also helped. I bet, if he so chose to ask, many individuals from those agencies and institutions would come and speak to him about their areas of expertise. 

He also serves a large area of New York State. His constituents, that is to say we, are also a resource for him. Cornell University is within our district. If he wants to ensure that the facts prevail, as he said to me in his letter, then come to Cornell and hear the facts. 

Because the fact is that carbon dioxide, which is being emitted at unprecedented rates because of human activity, absorbs infrared radiation. The Earth itself emits infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation that is directly emitted from the Earth. So if we put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect will get stronger and the planet will warm. Not getting all of the necessary information to make an informed decision as a United States Congressman is the definition of incompetence. 

But maybe he already knows all of this. It is required by law that federal candidates disclose where their campaign contributions come from. In the 2018 election cycle, two of his top three campaign contributors were from fossil fuel companies. NextEra Energy, a Florida based electric power generating company, came in at number two. While NextEra Energy does produce some renewable energy, the truth is that only 37 percent of their energy production in 2018 came from renewables, while 48 percent came from fossil fuels. Why is a Florida energy company contributing to an Upstate New York Congressman’s campaign anyways? 

The next top campaign contributor was a company called Otis Eastern. Otis Eastern is a fossil fuel pipeline construction company. When you look at his entire time in office, the Oil and Gas industry is the Congressman’s third biggest campaign contributor.

So maybe the Congressman already knows that human activity is warming the planet. Maybe he knows that the facts have prevailed and that the cause is not debatable. Maybe he has just been bought. When the very companies who would benefit from inaction on climate change have given you over $600,000 to get you elected, maybe you stick your head in the sand and play dumb. 

This leads me back to my original question that I pose to NY-23; is Tom Reed incompetent or is he corrupt? You decide.


Colin Evans 

Owego, N.Y. 

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