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By Collin Breaux
While discussing a new congressional report recently released by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) said the financial impact of not acting on climate change is estimated at $25 trillion to $35 trillion.
“The cost of doing nothing is massive,” Levin said during a Zoom meeting on Monday, Aug. 17, when he, other members of the committee and regional community leaders in the 49th Congressional District held talks over the congressional action plan to address climate change.
During the Zoom discussion, Levin called the committee’s report a comprehensive look at climate change. The report’s recommendations include the use of wind and solar energy, as well as other “zero-carbon energy sources, and construction of new transmission infrastructure to deliver clean energy to homes.”
The report also supports investment in clean infrastructure to protect people’s health and to ensure building codes are adequate to address potential impacts from climate change.
A day after the Zoom discussion, San Juan Capistrano Councilmember Brian Maryott—a Republican who is challenging Levin in the November election for the district seat—released his campaign’s environmental platform and announced his support of the American Climate Contract.
In a press release, Maryott announced that he is joining a dozen U.S. Representatives in supporting the American Conservation Coalition’s climate pledge, whose measures include developing affordable and exportable clean energy technologies.
During Monday’s Zoom discussion, House Select Committee Chair Kathy Castor ( D-FL) said while she was grateful for the entrepreneurs and others who have taken measures regarding climate change, Congress and the federal government must act, too.
“Our task is urgent,” Castor said.
Recommended public health measures could save more than 620,000 lives, Castor said. Topics mentioned by Castor included investments in water systems, cleaning up the power energy sector and reducing emissions.
The report’s recommendations include the establishment of new water infrastructure standards by Congress that account for droughts, floods and erosion and supporting tax credits for clean energy use. Goals laid out are to achieve 100% sales of zero emission cars by 2035 and net-zero emissions from power generation by 2040.
“Every recommendation we make focuses on environmental justice,” Castor said.
Evan Marks, executive director and founder of The Ecology Center, a community farm in San Juan Capistrano, was also on the Zoom conference call. Marks emphasized agriculture as a way people can connect to the environment, saying he would like to see more people get into farming.
Vista City Councilmember Corinna Contreras said bipartisanship is important when talking about environmental justice. Contreras brought up the importance of access to green spaces for residents and is grateful for the federal representation by Levin. Contreras supports having a climate resiliency plan and said she sees young people that are disconnected and don’t have support systems that connect them to green jobs.
Contreras said her constituents, who tend to work in agriculture, have asked about equity, a matter she wants to preserve.
“Agriculture should provide good jobs,” Contreras said. “My constituents should not be exploited and exposed to harmful chemicals.”
As for Maryott, he said he takes seriously his responsibility to be a good steward of the world and to balance the economic priorities of the nation with the duty to safeguard the environment for future generations.
Maryott’s environmental platform includes support for providing research and development credits to explore new technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions, opposition to nationalizing the energy sector, a focus on removing radioactive waste from the San Onofre nuclear plant and standing against additional offshore drilling in Southern California.
“I pledge to be an advocate for an environmental agenda that rises above petty partisan politics and big government mandates,” Maryott said.