Environmental Pipe Dreams
In June of 2019, my husband and I bought a 1926 suburban brick duplex to create our dream home. The idea was to live in the two-bedroom unit on the second floor while remodeling the first floor. We put solar panels on the roof and a deck off the back, and we gutted the first floor. We even installed rain barrels and a pollinator garden.
Then, the pandemic hit. My husband was furloughed and eventually offered a severance package. Our plans stopped midproject. It wasn't the time to empty our savings account on a renovation. We did the best we could living in the second-floor unit and cooking from a hot plate, toaster oven and grill on the deck.
I knew how lucky we were to be safe, COVID-free and together. But the half-finished house was starting to wear on me. I have a 5-year-old and a dog. Everyone has to wear shoes in the house because we have to walk through the construction zone to get outside. We had planned for the renovation to take one year. We're going on two years now. I feel like a squatter in my own home. The rage-room ambience of the first floor has turned from adventurous to tiring.
My husband got a new job. Electricians and plumbers have slowly returned, and our dreams are beginning to take shape once again. Then, last week, I watched in horror as a massive ball of fire burned in the Gulf of Mexico. I didn't even know such a thing was possible -- a fireball in water. An underwater gas pipe owned by Mexico's Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, had leaked and ignited. The fire burned for five hours before the pipe was shut off and fires extinguished. The environmental repercussions remain unclear.
The news put our dream home in perspective once again. We chose this old house for a reason. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The building has good bones and a fun history. In the 1930s, it was "The Grand Grill." There was a cafe on the first floor, or a nightclub, depending on which old advertisement you read. We plan to reuse this building for our home while honoring its past in our neighborhood. We also plan to reduce our impact on the environment. Our solar panels power the home, and we've swapped out appliances that use natural gas. We're investing in sustainable infrastructure. Even our rain barrels help prevent storm runoff and erosion while also keeping our gardens watered.
President Joe Biden's efforts to limit pipeline production and reduce our nation's reliance on natural resources that damage our environment is necessary to prevent these leaks and spills that lead to environmental disasters. We've seen the repercussions again and again. We cannot rely on these practices to sustain our economy. We have to help communities that depend on harvesting natural gas, oil and coal to find better ways to thrive.
The American Jobs Plan puts focus on establishing the sustainable infrastructure needed to see our economy into the future responsibly by thinking beyond tomorrow and doing our part to care for our one and only Earth. Our grandchildren deserve it.
I know that our eco-friendly dream house does not change the world for everyone. But my husband and I have drawn the line and made a plan for our home and our lives. We no longer wish to participate in an infrastructure that is killing us all.
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