Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
| Opinion maker

In June 2019, my husband and I bought a 1926 maisonette to create our dream home. The idea was to live in the 2-room apartment on the second floor while the first floor is being remodeled. We put solar panels on the roof, one deck back, and gutted the first floor. We even installed rain barrels and a pollinator garden.

Then the pandemic hit. My husband was on leave and eventually offered severance pay. Our plans stopped in the middle of the project. It wasn’t the time to empty our savings account for a renovation. We did our best to live in the unit on the second floor and cook on a hot plate, toaster and grill on the patio.

I knew how lucky we were, safe, COVID free and together. But the half-finished house was starting to wear me down. I have a five year old and a dog. Everyone has to wear shoes indoors because we have to go through the construction site to get outside. We had planned that the renovation would take a year. We’re going on for two years now. I feel like a squatter in my own home. The rage room ambience on the first floor has changed from adventurous to tiring.

My husband has a new job. Electricians and plumbers have slowly returned and our dreams are taking shape again. Then, last week, I watched in horror as a giant ball of fire burned in the Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t even know that something like this was possible – a ball of fire in the water. An underwater gas pipeline owned by the Mexican Petróleos Mexicanos or Pemex leaked and caught fire. The fire burned for five hours before the pipe was shut off and the fires put out. The environmental impact remains unclear.

The news has put our dream home into perspective again. We chose this old house for good reason. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The building has good bones and a fun story. In the 1930s it was “The Grand Grill”. There is a cafe on the first floor or a night club depending on which old ad 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 provide electricity to the house, and we’ve replaced appliances that use natural gas. We invest in sustainable infrastructure. Even our rain barrels help prevent storm runoff and erosion while also watering our gardens.

President Biden’s efforts to limit pipeline production and reduce our country’s reliance on natural resources that harm our environment are necessary to prevent these leaks and spills that lead to environmental disasters. We have seen the effects over and over again. We cannot rely on these practices to sustain our economy. We need to help communities that rely on natural gas, oil and coal to find better ways to thrive.

The American Jobs Plan focuses on building the sustainable infrastructure necessary to responsibly see our economy into the future, by thinking beyond tomorrow and doing our part in caring for our only earth. Our grandchildren deserve it.

I know our eco-friendly dream home won’t change the world for everyone. But my husband and I drew the line and made a plan for our home and our lives. We no longer want to be part of an infrastructure that is killing us all.

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a member of the Enquirer editorial team and media director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Find her on social media @WriterBonnie or email her at [email protected]