5. What do you view as the highest (or top 3 things) priorities for attacking climate change?
The top three environmental (and environmental justice issues) in the 3rd Senate District are (1) the ever present and growing threat of wildfires, (2) ensuring a just transition for workers in fossil fuel and other polluting sectors, and (3) overcoming the detrimental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, including from the transportation and energy sectors.
A. Having experienced the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa firsthand one of my top priorities is to invest more in mitigation efforts as we accept the reality that wildfire intensity and frequency will only continue to worsen over the years to come.
B. It is critical that our climate resiliency efforts go hand-in-hand with creating better jobs for Californians. The success and speed of our climate action will chiefly depend on whether working class people feel that the transition is helping or hurting their livelihoods. I support programs to invest in job training and workforce development for anyone in the state who wants to become a part of this green energy revolution. I believe that we need to prioritize the communities and folks who have been most affected by climate inaction and injustice — namely people of color and low-income individuals who have bore the brunt of climate change’s effects.
C. I support a just and rapid transition to a future where fossil fuels play a minimal role. Our transition to 100% ZEVs is important. Within our own district refineries need to be held accountable for illegal emissions.
For the record I have signed the no fossil fuel money pledge.
California is a global leader in prioritizing climate change response and justice. And it isn’t enough. We need to do much, much more. Climate change is an urgent, existential threat that requires immediate action as we are already seeing devastating effects throughout the 3rd District.
First and foremost, I would prioritize investing in renewable energy infrastructure and promoting clean energy adoption throughout the state. This includes funding for solar and wind energy projects, as well as supporting research and development of innovative clean technologies. By transitioning to cleaner energy sources, we can reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Secondly, I would focus on dramatically strengthening transportation options, including transit, electric vehicles, biking, and walking. That means continued investments in incentives, infrastructure, and operating support. Just as important, California must insist on sustainable land use development that makes these choices viable and scalable. I helped pioneer this approach, leading the groundbreaking Sacramento Region Blueprint that inspired SB 375 and the regional allocations for climate emission reductions in transportation plans. Fidelity has been uneven, however, and I would work to ensure that this important element of our strategy to reduce transportation sector emissions fulfills the promise. With California set to phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, the use of fossil fuels will and should diminish. I also believe the state should focus on incentives for electric vehicle adoption and trip reduction, promoting clean transportation, and investing in renewable energy infrastructure. These policy considerations must prioritize environmental justice, just transition, and innovation in clean technologies to ensure a sustainable and equitable energy future for our state.
Thirdly, I would press for increased funding for climate resiliency and adaptation measures, married with tougher state policies. As climate change continues to impact our state with extreme weather events, it is crucial to invest in infrastructure that can withstand these challenges. This includes measures like sea- level rise protection and managed retreat, wildfire prevention, and water conservation initiatives. As the environment policy facilitator for the California Legislative Staff Education Institute, I’ve seen first-hand the patchwork of approaches and sometimes counterproductive policies in places throughout the state. I served on the statewide advisory committee for California’s sweeping new 30×30 strategy, which will protect 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030, using conservation of natural areas to protect biodiversity and combat climate change. I’ll be a leader in the Senate to get this done.