Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to save the planet from the perils of climate change. Developing the models for true sustainability must happen now, before it’s too late to sufficiently respond to climate change, rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and prolonged drought.
A Global Leader on Climate Action
I’ve been an outspoken advocate for tackling climate change on an international level. In the 115th Congress, I was a featured speaker at a conference of world climate experts convened by Pope Francis in Vatican City. In 2021, I co-introduced the bicameral FAIR Transition and Competition Act, which would establish a border carbon adjustment (BCA) on climate-polluting imports, create a race to the top among nations developing clean energy, and ensure we are addressing the climate crisis at home and abroad. I’ve also participated in the United Nations climate conference twice – in 2019, and 2021 when I discussed my border carbon adjustment bill with policymakers across the globe.
Taking Action to Lower Earth’s Temperature and Reduce Pollution
Data repeatedly proves the threat of climate change is urgent, and we must take action now to reverse its effects. Combatting our growing climate crisis will require us to take significant, bipartisan steps. I spoke with the San Diego Union Tribune about my environmental priorities as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Read more about it, in this piece.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), without large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal technologies it is nearly impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (USEIT). This legislation became law at the end of 2020, authorizing $85 million to support carbon utilization and direct air capture research and encouraging federal, state, and non-governmental collaboration to facilitate planning and permitting of CCUS facilities.
We also need to continue improving methane pollution standards. Methane is a super pollutant more than 80 times as harmful as carbon dioxide and is responsible for about 25 percent of the human-made global warming we experience today. In 2021, President Biden signed a resolution of disapproval that I co-introduced to reinstate more robust methane pollution standards put in place by the Obama administration.
I worked with renowned climate scientists to lay out a plan to efficiently and effectively lower Earth’s temperature and address environmental justice. Sharply reducing emissions of super pollutants like methane, HFCs, and black carbon soot will help us slow climate change and and bend the warming curve. Read more about our plan in this piece in the San Diego Union Tribune, and this piece in the Hill.
America Needs Sustainable Energy Policies
As a member of Congress, I consider the development of a sustainable energy policy a top priority.
I serve as the Chair of the Climate Task Force within the Sustainable Energy & Environment Caucus. We are working to create green collar jobs by advancing policies that promote clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and the development of renewable energy resources.
As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that: 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; and 5) ensures greater national security.
San Diego is home to around 1,000 clean tech companies and has been recognized as one of the nation’s leaders for green vehicles and expansion of solar adoption.
In Congress, I’ve focused on measures to promote and help fund science and technology education, plus developing new programs to help students prepare for green jobs that will grow along with our clean energy sector.
That isn’t just good for our environment, it’s good for our economy. Solar jobs are jobs anchored in the community, and they don’t carry the same volatility as the prices of fossil fuels like oil. In fact, a nationwide study conducted by Environment California ranked San Diego as the second most “solar city” in America based on cumulative solar capacity. And we’re just getting started.
It’s also important that the federal government set a good example. That’s why I cosponsored the Energy Efficiency Government Technology Act to require that federal data centers be energy efficient. It would save money long term and model the leadership we need.
I am the co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, a national organization which helps city planners find ways to incorporate more bike paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian-friendly streets so people can get around without their cars.
We implemented this in Bird Rock while I was a member of the San Diego City Council. We made the neighborhood safer, more walkable, and turned a strip of boulevard filled with shuttered storefronts into a thriving small business district that’s now filled with boutiques, restaurants and night life. Doing more redevelopment like this should be a part of our plan for a more sustainable energy policy and greater energy independence.
It’s critical that we advance policies to sufficiently respond to climate change and protect our nation’s clean air, water, and environment. Unfortunately, there are still those who choose to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence collected by many of the world’s best research institutions that makes it clear that climate change is a real, immediate threat.
Congress should act to stop price-gouging at the pump by holding Wall Street commodities traders and speculators more accountable. Experts agree that speculation in energy markets drives up the price of oil, which raises the price of gas for consumers.
Over time, Congress must develop and support a long-term energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels altogether. I’ve voted against increases in oil drilling both onshore and offshore without sufficient safety protections in place, and I’ve pressed to hold coal producers accountable for their impact on the environment, their workers, and surrounding communities.
But while we work toward the right sustainable energy and environmental protection policies, it’s critical that we take the consequences of extreme weather seriously. I’ve helped lead the call for more resources to support drought victims and to combat wildfires. I also introduced the Prevent Outages with Energy Resiliency Options Nationwide (POWER ON) Act to modernize our national power grid and make it easier to transfer electricity from regions that make renewable energy to regions that need it. It became law as part of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021, and will help decarbonize the power sector, electrify the transportation sector, adapt the grid to withstand the devastating effects of climate change, and lower electricity costs for consumers.
By protecting our air and water, preserving our forests and open spaces, and developing infrastructure that allows us to consume less and recycle more, we can create the model for a healthier, safer, more sustainable world for the generations to come.