Back in October I was having a discussion with a family member about the presidential election.

I knew her to be adamantly opposed to President Trump’s policies, actions and words. I also knew she was deeply concerned about environmental issues.

So I posed a hypothetical question: If Trump’s policies regarding the environment/climate change were transposed with Joe Biden’s but everything else about them and their other policies remained the same, who would you vote for?

She frowned, thought a minute and said it wasn’t a fair question. She asked if she could pick a third party candidate.

I smiled, shook my head and pressed her for a response.

She eventually (and unhappily) said that, yes, she would reluctantly switch her allegiance to Trump in my hypothetical scenario.

Lots of voters have a single issue in mind when they cast a ballot. For some, it’s abortion. For others, it’s the Second Amendment. And for some, it’s social justice.

For an increasing number of Americans, particularly millennials and Generation Z, the environment is the paramount issue. President Biden’s environmental policies, nearly across the board, align with this group’s priorities. Otherwise, they would have found another presidential candidate to support.

A survey conducted online in December 2019 by The Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association found that 56% of U.S. adults rate climate change as the most important issue. An even higher amount, 62%, said they would be willing to vote for a candidate based on climate change views.

As we approach the four-month mark of Biden’s presidency, he’s flipped the switch on the Environmental Protection Agency after it basically lay dormant during Trump’s four years.

Last week, the EPA, for the first time since Trump took office in 2017, updated its climate change indicators with fresh data. It’s the most comprehensive report to date on the impact of climate change on the environment and the lives of Americans.

“There is no small town, big city or rural community that is unaffected by the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said Wednesday. “Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close, with increasing regularity.”

Those who believe that scientific measurements shouldn’t pass through a political filter, will find the EPA’s report in most areas both familiar and disturbing. Here’s a sampling:

• The rate of temperature increase is accelerating and heat waves have become more prevalent.

• Wildfires are proliferating.

• Communities on the coasts are inundated more often with flooding. In some areas, sea level rose more than 8 inches from 1960 to 2020.

Unshackling the EPA to do the work it was designed for is just part of a pattern that shows how highly Biden has prioritized the environment.

In the early going of his presidential term, the United States has reentered the Paris Climate Accord, and Biden has hosted world leaders for a virtual climate summit. On Earth Day, he pledged that the United States would slash greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% by 2029.

The president’s climate plan is ambitious and inextricably linked to his economic and social agenda.

All but perhaps the most extreme environmentalists, surely, are glad they cast their vote for him.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column is published Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. Contact him at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4845.

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