Congressman lays out House climate committee’s proposal

July 02, 2020

We are being tested this year. A mass pandemic, historic unemployment and economic collapse, as well as an unprecedented public outcry for police reform and racial justice.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis is accelerating. All-time temperature records continue to fall, while air pollution and environmental injustices have acted as a threat multiplier for the country’s most vulnerable populations.

Amid that backdrop, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis proposed a detailed plan this week to make a deep, sustained commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and withstand the unavoidable impacts of a warming climate.

I am a member of that committee. Our plan to tackle every aspect of the climate crisis will create high-quality jobs to expand America’s middle class, address environmental injustices and help build a more equitable economy.

We are not recommending speculative changes for some far-off future. Instead, we are proposing steps we can start taking today. Indeed, the people, companies and organizations of California are already modeling much of what this will look like, from cleaner cars to smarter water management.

The congressional climate action plan is based on science. It sets ambitious goals to slash greenhouse gas emissions and deploy clean-energy technologies. It gives the United States a chance to create a new generation of manufacturing jobs and a fairer economy.

Our report spells out these goals in detail, but it also goes beyond the headlines to show how all of our policy tools can work together. For example, America’s farmers and ranchers, including many in the Bay Area, are ready to help solve the climate crisis by sequestering carbon in the soil. California companies are also pioneering indoor and vertical farming techniques that reduce energy costs and cut pollution. Our climate report recommends that Congress do much more to support these agricultural practices that reduce emissions, enhance carbon sequestration and make us more resilient to extreme weather.

Our report commits to smarter land and water management practices. Watersheds across the country are increasingly stressed by drought, endangering communities, economies and habitats. At the same time, shifts in weather patterns mean that catastrophic flooding poses a heightened risk to downstream communities and infrastructure. The report recommends that we meet these water resource and infrastructure challenges head-on, with innovative science, data and technology. The Moving Forward Act, under consideration in the House this week, makes an important down payment on improved flood and drought preparedness using natural infrastructure and innovative water supply reliability tools.

There is also a lot more we can do to capture the potential of natural climate solutions that reduce carbon pollution and protect communities. Our report recommends a major investment in conserving and restoring forests, rangeland and protected public lands to improve ecosystem health and fire resilience. Healthier forest ecosystems are an important carbon sequestration tool, and they support outdoor recreation — a big economic driver for rural communities.

Our climate action framework also focuses on the opportunities to increase consumer choice in the transportation sector, reduce congestion, and cut carbon pollution when we move people and goods. Again, the House is already starting its work to make this proposal a reality by improving how our transportation systems are planned, funded and built. The Moving Forward Act, aka HR 2, is a historic investment in cleaning up the transportation sector, one that prioritizes carbon pollution reduction, investing in public transit and the national rail network, and building out fueling infrastructure for low- and zero-emission vehicles.

As the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis deliberated and took testimony over the last year, it became clear that we have an opportunity to slash carbon footprint across the board while building a more just and sustainable future for everyone.

Our country is at a moment of reckoning. We have a chance to make real and important change — across all sectors of the economy and society, as well as across all congressional committees and jurisdictions. The climate crisis isn’t waiting, the people suffering across the country aren’t waiting. Neither should we.

By:  Rep. Jared Huffman
Source: Marin IJ