The hundreds of thousands of people who recently participated in the Climate March on Washington were incredibly inspiring to watch. Seeing floods of Americans from all walks of life marching on the Capitol to and urge the protection of our environment was both reinvigorating and extremely frustrating. Because unfortunately, their pleas to save the planet will likely fall on the President’s deaf ears.
In his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump has set about appointing a climate change denier as his EPA chief, signing executive orders undoing vital regulations, and introducing a budget that would cut up to 40% of the EPA’s budget, decimating many vital environmental initiatives and eliminating thousands of EPA jobs. Beyond losing critical climate programs, the enormous cuts to the EPA would also eradicate protections for some of our basic, everyday needs. Among them include eliminating funds for hazardous site cleanup and the Public Water System Supervision Grant Program, which endangers our drinking water and makes situations like Flint even more likely.
These radical views on the environment aren’t just held by this president, but also shared by many of his climate change-denying allies in Congress, like the 48th’s Dana Rohrabacher. Although they lack the support of the American public, there remains a very vocal contingent of Congressmembers that denies climate change and emphatically rejects the need to protect our environment.
This was evident at a recent House Science Committee hearing, where Dana charged nationally renowned climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with fabricating their data. Instead of listening to the experts on the panel and the 97% of the world’s climate scientists who agree that climate change is happening and human activity is accelerating these changes, Dana attempted to politicize the data and pompously dismiss mainstream science. While Dana Rohrabacher and other politicians continue to “debate” the widespread consensus around climate change, his constituents are seeing these destructive changes firsthand, from drought to extreme heat.
I’m very happy to call Orange County my home, one of the most remarkable places to live in the world. As a businessman, I know first hand that protecting the environment and incentivizing economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals, but it is in fact good business.
Here’s why — there is a new urban renaissance happening. Urban centers increasingly are areas of diversity, discovery, and innovation — which is why for the first time in history the majority of people live in cities. They are a magnet for people looking for the same things generations before them did: culture, community, choices, opportunity — and in the case of the 48th District, our wonderful oceans, beaches, mountains, and parks.
And these urban centers would be hard-hit by global warming. In fact, a recent study showed that OC’s coastal communities in particular would take a huge economic hit from the effects of climate change. That’s why I’m so proud that the California Legislature is resisting Trump’s efforts to enact offshore drilling California’s most precious asset, our beautiful coastlines.
Our nation cannot afford to continue our reckless behavior, which risks permanently changing the planet and jeopardizing the health, safety, and stability of future generations. Climate change doesn’t just mean melting ice caps and rising oceans. It means the weather patterns that all of civilization has been predicated on for hundreds of years will be increasingly unpredictable — where we built our cities, where we grow our crops, where we live — all will be in jeopardy. Entire infrastructures built for these purposes will become obsolete. The time to act is now.
It’s time to have political leadership that has the common sense to recognize that in addition to preserving the planet, combatting climate change is also about embracing mainstream principles like energy freedom and protecting our national security. In fact, a coalition of 25 military and national security experts recently warned that climate change “poses a significant risk to US national security and international security”.
Luckily, Trump and his Congressional partners like Dana are out of touch. According to a recent poll, 61 percent of voters nationwide disapprove of Trump’s handling of the environment. We need to continue exposing their backwards agenda and fighting for a different vision for our climate and energy future.
And that starts first and foremost with prioritizing green energies over the fossil fuels of the past. Clean energy innovation is not only better for the environment, but it also creates high paying jobs, economic growth, prosperity, energy choice and freedom from foreign dependence. And there is no better place in the world to unleash America’s clean energy potential than Southern California. We have all the ingredients: one of the best places in the world to live that attracts talented workers from around the globe; over 300 days of sunshine; a well-developed infrastructure; some of the world’s leading universities; an innovative culture; forward thinking municipalities; access to capital; and numerous high-tech businesses.
Our nation is at a crossroads: do we continue to prop up old fossil fuel industries through government subsidies, or do we embrace the economic opportunities of clean energy? The future of our communities is literally at stake, and in Congress I will help lead the charge against climate change and work to make Orange County the world’s leader in clean-tech.