We MUST demand environmental justice for EVERYONE. That’s why combating climate change and ensuring opportunities for neglected communities in this fight has been so central to my work as a legislator and an activist.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its final warning last March: The world is likely to surpass its most ambitious climate target — limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial temperatures — by the early 2030s.
If we don’t move now and address the climate crisis, we will condemn our planet and its inhabitants to a death sentence. We’ve already seen its effects: worsening floods, devastating droughts, millions of acres on fire, reduced agricultural yields, and entire communities destroyed by natural disasters. This often disproportionately hurts poor people and communities of color the most. These phenomena will bring food insecurity, breakdown in services, displaced communities, global conflicts, and render whole regions of our world uninhabitable.
Simply put, we must rapidly transition away from dirty fuels NOW or face dire consequences.
Our solutions must match the scale of the crisis. I have a proven track record, both in Congress and the California State Legislature, of standing in strong opposition to taxpayer-funded giveaways to Big Oil and other major polluters, while also advocating for increased investments in clean, renewable energy technologies.
As my late colleague and friend Congressman Donald McEachin often said, access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment should not be a luxury. That’s why we renamed the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act in his honor when we reintroduced it earlier this year. I am proud to take up the fight as the new co-lead of this transformative bill and will not stop until we achieve environmental justice for all—no matter where you live, what you look like, or how much you make.
“Simply put, we must rapidly transition away from dirty fuels NOW or face dire consequences.”
The Green New Deal, which I also co-sponsored, has three core components: jobs, justice, and climate. That’s why I’m proud to stand with other progressive Members of Congress in support of it and its provisions. I have long been a fighter to ensure that good-paying union jobs created by the growing green energy sector are open to all, especially people of color, women, and military veterans.
We can’t stop there, either. We must also do a better job protecting endangered animals and preserving and increasing public access to our national parks and public lands. We must be better stewards of our environment for the sake of all those who call our planet home.
I grew up by the El Paso smelter. My neighbors & family were exposed to chemicals from the plant and Black & Brown people were disproportionately affected. I’ve seen what happens when polluters are allowed to spew toxins into the air and water. We must put People Over Polluters!
There’s no denying the climate crisis is here and that the threat to the safety and economic security of our communities is growing by the day. In order to ensure a healthy and safe future for our children and grandchildren, we must invest in bold policies that address the climate emergency head on, especially in communities of color and other low-income communities that have experienced generations of environmental injustice.
Commitment to Invest in the Health of Our Communities
Congresswoman Barbara Lee was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution (GND) and reintroduced the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act with colleagues from both the House and Senate.
When passed, the Environmental Justice for All Act will fundamentally change how pollution is regulated, how regulations are enforced, and how communities can participate in the regulatory decision making process. EJ for All isn’t just historic for what it does, but for how it came together, as well. In order to craft this legislation, Congresswoman Lee and her colleagues invested in a multi-year process, building it around the lived experiences of frontline communities who are at the highest risk of developing short and long term medical conditions.
The most recent Green New Deal resolution envisions a 10-year national mobilization, akin to FDR’s New Deal, that would put millions of Americans, many from underserved and at-risk communities, to work in good-paying, union jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure, reducing air and water pollution, and fighting the intertwined economic, social, racial, and climate crises crippling the country.
In the four years since the Green New Deal was first introduced, Congresswoman Lee has joined her colleagues in introducing or co-sponsoring dozens of pieces of legislation, across multiple sectors of the economy, to build on the principles from the resolution. This includes The Green New Deal for Cities and the Civilian Climate Corps, recently taken up by President Biden.
This past April, Congresswoman Lee joined colleagues from both chambers in introducing a Green New Deal Implementation Guide and in September, Congresswoman Lee co-sponsored legislation to invest $1.6 trillion to transform the U.S. public school system, creating 1.3 million jobs and eliminating 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions over ten years.
Congresswoman Lee also serves as the Congressional Representative of the U.S. to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) which oversees the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a critical element of the historic Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change. The CGF is the world’s largest climate fund and is mandated to support developing countries raise and realize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.
Congresswoman Lee is the current Ranking Member and former Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. In this capacity, Congresswoman Lee negotiated unprecedented investments worth billions in the GCF. In November, Congresswoman Lee attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The delegation conveyed the commitment of the United States Congress to continuing the robust progress made to tackle the climate crisis under the leadership of President Biden.
Taking on the Fossil Fuel Industry
As a progressive, Barbara Lee has led the charge on cracking down on tax cheats and making sure the largest corporations pay their fair share. Congresswoman Lee will not stop fighting for justice and equity and will block any attempts to roll back the hard earned and historic gains made to protect our climate and the responsible stewardship of our natural resources.
While climate experts praised the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last year for focusing on emissions, clean energy, and environmental justice, they also cautioned that much work remains. Our progress is threatened as Republicans attempt to use their majority in the House to give handouts to billionaires and the fossil fuel industry.
That’s why Congresswoman Lee strongly opposes any rollbacks to California Senate Bill 1137 – a bill signed into law in September 2022 that keeps new oil wells 3,200 feet away from homes, schools, and parks – and urges a “yes” vote on the California Oil and Gas Well Regulations Referendum, that will appear on the ballot in November 2024.
If we don’t act NOW, it will only get WORSE. We must END fossil fuels. DECLARE a climate emergency. SAVE our planet.
KEY LEGISLATION INTRODUCED / LED
- H.R.1705 (118th Congress): The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act (co-lead) – establishes several environmental justice requirements, advisory bodies, and programs to address the disproportionate adverse human health or environmental effects of federal laws or programs on communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and indigenous communities.
- H.Res.29 (118th Congress): Resolution Supporting Teaching Climate Change in Schools (sponsor) – supports teaching climate change in schools and programs to increase public knowledge of the impacts that humans have on the climate.
- H.Res.532 (118th Congress): Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty (sponsor) – calls to center the needs of low-wealth people around moral laws and policies. The resolution aims to dismantle the systems that have perpetuated poverty and promotes environmental justice.
- H.R.260 (117th Congress): Women and Climate Change Act (sponsor) – requires the Department of State to create and implement a strategy to prevent and respond to the effects of climate change on women.
- The FY23 SFOPS Act imposed a requirement that the State Department develop and implement this strategy.
- H.Res.767 (117th Congress): Expressing Duty of DOD to Reduce Environmental Impact (sponsor) – expresses that it is the duty of the Department of Defense (DOD) to reduce the overall environmental impact of military activities and to monitor and report greenhouse gas emissions from all its operations.
KEY LEGISLATION SUPPORTED
- H.R.3302 (118th Congress): Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act – creates a federal grant program to invest in community-based efforts to mitigate exposure to extreme heat, air pollution and other climate change risks that pose a threat to vulnerable pregnant and postpartum people and their infants.
- H.R.1444 (118th Congress): Preparing Superfund for Climate Change Act of 2023 – requires the consideration of factors related to climate change when selecting remedial actions for the cleanup of Superfund sites (sites contaminated with hazardous substances).
- H.R.1729 (118th Congress): Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability Act – takes steps to remove contaminants from water, directs grants to low-income communities to prevent water shutoffs due to unaffordable bills, and invests $35 billion into an annual trust fund for water and sewer infrastructure modernization.
- H.R.3468 (118th Congress): EVs for All Act of 2023 – covers various expenses associated with EV adoption, including the cost of purchasing EVs, installing and maintaining charging infrastructure, community education and outreach initiatives, subsidized fares, maintenance and repairs, monitoring and data collection.
- H.Con.Res.56 (118th Congress) – Recognizing that the climate crisis disproportionately affects the health, economic opportunity, and fundamental rights of children, expressing the sense that leadership by the United States is still urgently needed to address the climate crisis.
- H.R.5376 (117th Congress): Inflation Reduction Act – makes the single largest investment in fighting climate change in history by investing in clean energy technologies, putting the U.S. on a path to reducing carbon pollution by 40% by 2030.
- H.R.2238 (117th Congress): Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act – sets forth requirements and incentives to reduce the production of a variety of products and materials, including plastics, and increase efforts to collect, recycle, or compost products and materials.