On Dec. 10-11, 93 people died as 62 tornadoes tore through in five states. On Dec. 15, more than a dozen semi trucks blew over in a 107-mph gust as part of a Colorado dust storm. The climate crisis is making such weather patterns less predictable and more severe. President Biden campaigned on the Build Back Better Act, which, along with bolstering health care and education, prioritized climate action. On Dec. 19, this legislation was disabled by a single vote.

It’s tempting to blame Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginian who makes millions on coal. After all, he had played chess with Biden’s reconstruction plan for months, only to be bought out by coal lobbyists, single-handedly undermining the agenda for which 81 million Americans voted.

However, the anger toward Manchin – albeit appropriate – lets Sen. Susan Collins off the hook. Before President Donald Trump took office, Collins’ views earned support from the Environmental Defense Fund and an endorsement by the League of Conservation Voters. She was a senator with convictions, not a price tag.

Maine needed Build Back Better. Our working waterfronts are reckoning with growing vulnerabilities, new regions are categorized as flood zones and we are struggling with cleaner energy transitions. Despite her early record as a maverick, when the people of Maine and of the United States most needed her, Sen. Collins was silent. She had the chance to support a bill that would go a long way toward putting climate back on the U.S. legislative agenda. She could have done this for the entire world.

Susana Hancock

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