Air Date: Week of July 10, 2020
After greater than a yr of consideration, the Home Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster have launched an enormous local weather motion plan. Right here, members of the Committee are pictured, alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the 2019 United Nations Local weather Change Convention (Photograph: John Brighenti, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
After greater than a yr of consideration, the members of the Home Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster have launched an enormous local weather motion plan that goals to finish carbon air pollution and construct new clear power and transportation methods, whereas additionally serving to communities adapt to local weather disruption. Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster Chair Kathy Castor (D-FL) joins Host Steve Curwood to debate what the plan means for environmental coverage and environmental justice communities shifting ahead.
CURWOOD: From PRX and the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios on the College of Massachusetts Boston, that is Dwelling on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
After greater than a yr of consideration, the Democratic majority members of the Home Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster have provide you with an enormous, 538-page plan for local weather motion. Their report pinpoints a whole lot of measures to finish carbon air pollution and shield public well being with climate-friendly financial, transportation and power methods, and an finish to subsidies for fossil fuels. With a give attention to environmental justice, their plans name for conserving public lands, farmland and forests to lock up carbon, and likewise serving to communities adapt to local weather disruption. The chair of the Local weather Disaster Committee, Kathy Castor of Florida joins us now from the Capitol. Welcome again to Dwelling on Earth!
CASTOR: Thanks a lot, Steve.
CURWOOD: So first, how does it really feel to lastly be capable to launch this report back to the Congress?
CASTOR: Properly, I am particularly excited to be with you as a result of I spoke with you on the outset, over a yr in the past, when Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress directed the institution of a brand new Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster and tasked us with speaking to stakeholders all throughout the nation, each political persuasion, people actually on the grassroots and develop options for the Congress. They directed us to be bold, and we have delivered an bold report.
CURWOOD: Properly, discuss to me about some priorities. It is, it is form of like you may have 10 hungry youngsters, you’re keen on all of them. However you may have restricted assets. How do you set priorities? What’s your prime precedence right here?
CASTOR: The highest precedence is the clear power financial system. The plan says we’ve to decarbonize American society by the yr 2050, however within the numerous sectors of the financial system, we suggest, we have got to behave lots quicker. And the one that’s the prime precedence actually might be establishing a clear power customary to wash up our grid no later than 2040. So which means we have got to get to work straight away to do this. The opposite prime precedence is the transportation sector as a result of now there are extra emissions popping out of the transportation sector than even the facility sector. So we suggest clear electrical autos and set a objective of all new vehicles to be clear electrical autos no later than 2035.
CURWOOD: How is that this plan going to advance environmental justice and systemic racism?
CASTOR: As you recognize, there are various communities throughout America which have carried the burden for fully too lengthy. They’re the communities the place the commercial crops are sited of their neighborhoods, time after time. You realize, we consulted all throughout the nation and I bear in mind a visit to Detroit, Michigan the place I talked to environmental justice leaders. And even earlier than the homicide of George Floyd, we had been centered on constructing our local weather motion plan upon a basis of environmental justice and truthful labor requirements for staff. So environmental justice suggestions are embedded all through our report. For instance, the Environmental Safety Company, once they make allowing choices or they’re making an attempt to find out the place to deploy neighborhood clear power assets, neighborhood photo voltaic, we are saying that our environmental justice communities should come first.
CURWOOD: Congresswoman, the climatologists are speaking about this being presumably the warmest yr on file. With searing warmth waves this summer season, there might be air con payments that some will not be capable to afford. How does, how does this second relate to the necessity to deal with the local weather and fairness?
CASTOR: It is fascinating that you simply point out that as a result of my hometown of Tampa, Florida simply final week set an all time excessive temperature file, they broke by way of to 99 levels. And in Miami, they have not actually been capable of cool off at evening. So that is actual to individuals. And also you’re proper, the electrical payments are going to be astronomical. So that is a part of the, the price. And I feel, previously, the opponents of local weather motion have typically argued, “it is too costly for us to behave on local weather, it is too costly to make these adjustments.” Folks do not consider that anymore as a result of they know, they’re paying these larger air con payments or property insurance coverage or flood insurance coverage payments or on your stormwater charges. So it is a plan that can profit all of us, by decreasing greenhouse gases and shifting to the clear power financial system, that can profit all of us. Rebuilding higher, rebuilding in a extra resilient method, giving our native communities the instruments they should forestall flooding, to make certain they’re prepared for the extra intense hurricanes, to have the ability to deal with the wildfires. There are intensive suggestions on how the federal authorities is usually a higher companion to communities all throughout the nation.
CURWOOD: In fact, with the COVID recession, there have been and there are going to be extra stimulus payments, Congress goes to place forth cash to assist rebuild the financial system. What does your report inform us how we should always rebuild the financial system within the wake of this COVID recession?
CASTOR: It is a, an unlimited alternative for America to rebuild higher. We had an impartial suppose tank take a look at our plan and mannequin it out. And never solely can we get about 90% of the way in which in direction of decreasing emissions by 2050, they are saying that we’ll create over 500,000 jobs as we transition to the clear power financial system. We are going to save 62,000 lives yearly if we transfer to the clear power financial system. But it surely’s the roles focus that’s notably essential at this second in time as a result of we’ve 40 million Individuals who’re out of labor now. And we predict that there’s an thrilling pathway for people to go to work, constructing the macro grid, the tremendous grid that we’ll want to attach renewable energy sources, photo voltaic and wind. These are the roles in making our communities extra resilient. We suggest reinvigorating the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a President FDR thought again within the Nice Despair. We suggest a brand new Local weather Resiliency Corps to assist communities, particularly environmental justice communities, do issues to make, deal with excessive warmth, like planting bushes in, in previously redlined neighborhoods or serving to with pure options — reinvigorating, you recognize, turning our public lands into locations that are not exploited for mining and, and fossil gas improvement, however are locations we will seize carbon. You realize, a whole lot of locations all throughout the globe are already planning these form of restoration plans. And we see an thrilling alternative for America to take action as properly.
CURWOOD: Now, you point out that the plan requires a nationwide supergrid utilizing excessive voltage direct present transmission versus the three massive grids we’ve proper now in America, proper? We now have an East, and we’ve a West, and we’ve Texas. And in the event you did that, proper, it will make it attainable for us to be 80% renewable with, with the stability of the baseload being dealt with by present nuclear. Okay, nice thought. However how heavy a carry is that this going to be, do you suppose, to implement a nationwide excessive voltage DC grid? There’s cash questions; there’s rights of method questions.
CASTOR: You wager. However it is a prime precedence. As a result of most, most folk aren’t conscious that almost all renewable assets — this, massive photo voltaic arrays and wind energy — most of these assets exist between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River. In order that needs to be our objective, to attach these cheaper renewable assets to inhabitants facilities throughout the nation. We advocate investing in analysis and improvement into storage of those assets. We advocate vital funding in power effectivity, which pays dividends; in the event you can assist companies and customers save on their electrical payments, that is a plus. We now have to do all of this stuff and you recognize, our activity is pressing. So here is some excellent news. Simply this week, the Home Democrats handed a serious transportation and infrastructure invoice, the Shifting Ahead Act, HR 2. And a whole lot of the Choose committee’s Fixing the Local weather Disaster suggestions are contained in that transportation and infrastructure invoice. So we, we’re already getting began on the infrastructure planning for the transmission supergrid, or macro grid.
CURWOOD: By the way in which, the plan talks about a whole lot of assets getting promised to the fossil gas trade for carbon seize and storage. However look, 25 years after that expertise was first proposed and a few pilot efforts mounted it has but to change into price efficient. Why ought to taxpayers hold spending cash on this?
CASTOR: No, taxpayers shouldn’t hold spending cash on that. We advocate that any of the tax incentives and appropriations that go to fossil gas, that they’re ended over time and shifted to wash power assets. And in reality, the Shifting Ahead Act that handed the Home of Representatives this week, extends a whole lot of our clear power tax credit. Our report says for carbon seize and storage, if an trade proposes to make use of it, and they will enhance their carbon footprint, that will not be allowed. We, we advocate that there need to be some local weather guardrails. We additionally consider that there are some industries on the market, the place there are not any options proper now in easy methods to seize their carbon, that means, metal, the way in which we make cement, and different industrial processes. And we predict that that sort of carbon seize and storage could possibly be an essential answer. However we’ve to, we’ve to develop the expertise that does not exist proper now.
CURWOOD: And oh, by the way in which, the report calls for shielding a minimum of 30% of all US lands and ocean areas by 2030. Type of sounds to me a bit like what Tom Udall over on the Senate aspect has been saying for some time. The place are we now on assembly that objective and the way can we get to 30% by 2030? And why is that this so essential for the local weather?
CASTOR: Vitally essential to the local weather that we don’t proceed to use our public lands and offshore waters. The truth is, they will actually be drivers of carbon options, whether or not that is sequestering carbon or stopping the overdevelopment of our farmlands and guarded areas. Folks love our nationwide park methods, they love the pure wilderness areas. However we have to perceive that they’re important to carbon sequestration and local weather motion. There’s a whole lot of extraction allowed on our public lands proper now; we predict over time, that should come to an finish, and we have to make a broad based mostly dedication to defending these public areas.
CURWOOD: That is proper, there’s nearly 500 gigatons of carbon simply in America’s public lands. How did your committee’s on-site subject visits assist inform this report? You talked about environmental justice in a single case, however which different ones particularly had been most informative and enlightening?
CASTOR: Yeah, I traveled to the Hampton Roads space with Congresswoman Elaine Luria, we visited a army set up in Norfolk that’s coping with the price of rising sea ranges. We additionally went together with her and Congressman Don McEachin out to an space that floods repeatedly and so they’re having to relocate some neighborhoods there; that was impactful. After which simply up the highway, Congressman Bobby Scott took me to a neighborhood that additionally repeatedly floods. It is a decrease earnings neighborhood. And the parents there instructed me they do not wish to depart when it floods, that is their residence. All of that helped affect our suggestions on flood mapping and the way we make flood insurance coverage extra inexpensive to individuals, how we empower communities to grasp what the local weather dangers are going to be sooner or later to allow them to make determinations the place they will purchase a house, the place they will stay, and empower the native communities to develop some resiliency plans, some adaptation plans over time. Touring to Motor Metropolis in Detroit and assembly with Ford and GM after which with a whole lot of the auto staff was inspiring as a result of they’re already on monitor to transition over to the clear electrical autos. They see it as a big competitiveness subject with China and the European Union. And that impressed us to push arduous on the subject of electrical autos. We predict we will be the world chief on the subject of manufacturing the clear vehicles and vehicles. We went to California, Southern California the place they’re constructing the clear electrical buses. We envision a future that is not too far off the place each little one in America who has to trip a bus to highschool, it should be a clear electrical bus, and that is going to supply large advantages to the air our youngsters breathe, too. You bought me on a roll right here [LAUGHS] — I want within the COVID days we may journey, however we’re not going to have the ability to do this. We’ll do a whole lot of this nearly. However I am excited to amplify the suggestions in our report and hold listening to people all throughout this numerous nation as we transfer our suggestions into legislation.
CURWOOD: Democrat Kathy Castor is the Chair of the Home Choose Committee on the Local weather Disaster and serves Florida’s 14th district. Congresswoman, thanks a lot for taking the time with us immediately.
CASTOR: Oh, thanks a lot, Steve. And let’s have one other check-in on our, be sure that we’re working by way of this to-do checklist down the highway.