Mike Levin on Environmental Racism

Question #2 to Mike Levin, asked by Jaida McCullough (’23) on behalf of environmental and anti-racist groups at PRS.

“Though air pollution is highly regulated in California, environmental policy as a whole is not protecting all communities in an equal way in California or around the US.  Low income and non-white communities are experiencing pollution disparity and environmental inequality.  What actions are you currently taking or do you plan to take to have a more just future for all on this issue?”

So, the Inflation Reduction Act that I just mentioned, it includes the biggest investments in environmental justice that we have ever made as well, at the federal level, and that’s of course not to say that we still must do more. We have a long way to go, but I thought I would highlight just a few of the things in the Inflation Reduction Act. $60 billion for environmental justice, funding for air quality monitoring, a new environmental and climate justice block grant program to reduce pollution and climate threats in communities on the front lines of legacy environmental and health hazards, reinstatement of the tax on oil companies to fund cleanup of superfund sites, funding to revitalize communities damaged by federal highway projects, improve transportation access to reduce pollution, funding across agencies to ensure effective and efficient review and public input, a proposed major public works projects, and funding for tribal communities to electrify homes and increase climate resilience. One thing I would say from an overarching perspective is that the oil companies don’t like me very much. I don’t play their games. I stand up to them. I want to see more transparency and accountability and I’m one of 52 members of Congress that refuse to take their money or any corporate PAC money. And because that’s the case, I would argue, if you see right now, you’ve probably seen a lot of attack ads on TV, right? Or on Youtube or wherever else, I imagine. I see a lot of nods out there. So next time you see one of those attack ads against me, pay attention.  You know the little disclaimer says who funds it? Take a look next time, you know what I’m talking about right? So the disclaimer on a lot of them says paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund. Y’all can remember that, Congressional Leadership Fund. Then, you ever see opensecrets.org? Do you  all know what that is? Opensecrets.org is a website where you can go and you can see who funds different organizations and campaigns, and if you go to opensecrets.org, and you search for Congressional Leadership Fund, remember this organization is spending millions of dollars attacking me and others like me. Well, guess who funds them, any guesses? Oil companies, good guess, oil companies! And who said that? Good guess, and you’re only in sixth grade! That’s fantastic!  Yes, the American Petroleum Institute, Coke Industries, Chevron, Exxon, you get the picture. And we’ve got to transition away from the fossil fuel present to a cleaner, more sustainable future. And, ultimately, it’s going to impact all your lives and all of your kids’ lives. What kind of air we’re breathing, what kind of fuel we’re using, both to power our vehicles and our homes, and our businesses, and I hope you’ll want to be part of that change, accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future, and doing it in an equitable way.

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