Climate Justice

Every moment we waste not taking action to combat the climate crisis is a moment we allow our communities, our economy, and our planet to be harmed. An urgent approach to climate means rectifying historical injustices, strengthening global peace and security, investing in jobs, and holding corporations accountable. We can, and we must, prioritize the health of our world and the health of communities — especially those that have and continue to bear the brunt of this crisis — for a truly just and sustainable future.

Address Environmental Racism

Growing up near a copper and lead smelter in a primarily Black and brown community in El Paso, Lee witnessed the drastic health impacts her neighbors and family suffered as a result of the pollution — solidifying the experience of environmental injustice as racial injustice. In the Senate, Lee will fight for low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities that bear the brunt of climate change’s worst effects.

Lee will champion the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act, a bill crafted with extensive community feedback, leaders in the environmental justice movement, and backing from more than 300 grassroots and advocacy groups. 

The most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history, 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. It will also impose fees on fossil fuel industries to create a federal fund to ensure a just transition to climate-friendly infrastructure and projects.

Lee will prioritize expanding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Justice40 initiative to invest in disadvantaged communities that are being overburdened by pollution. She will also prioritize an immediate partnership with the State Insurance Commissioner to strengthen efforts to stabilize California’s statewide insurance market for communities facing rising costs as a result of climate risk. Lee will focus federal support for efforts to facilitate insurance companies’ return to the California housing market, review proposed rate increases to determine if they are necessary and affordable for residents, and provide sufficient coverage for high-risk areas.

As a co-founder of the House’s Safe Climate Caucus, Lee will create a sister caucus in the Senate to focus on expanding efforts to combat the disastrous effects of climate change, and advocate for further legislation that will protect the environment for future generations.

Take A Global Approach To Global Warming

Lee has been an unwavering advocate for development and diplomacy on the world stage, rather than endless wars. In the Senate, Lee intends to bring her continued efforts to build diplomatic relations and slash the Defense budget to serve our climate goals.

The US Department of Defense is the single largest institutional fossil fuel user in the world, and emits millions of metric tons of greenhouse gases, year after year. Lee will continue her efforts to hold the Pentagon accountable to meet emissions reduction targets, verify reporting on emissions from all of its operations, and consider methods to address the danger climate effects pose in our national defense strategy. 

Building on her ongoing work to audit wasteful Pentagon spending, Lee will focus on passing her People Over Pentagon Act, cutting the bloated defense budget by $100 million to invest in priorities that better serve Americans’ wellbeing and security, including combating climate change — and reducing the Pentagon’s capacity for high emissions in the process.

Lee will also work to support climate change efforts in developing nations. Continuing on her work on the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operation, Lee will advance federal spending on efforts to combat global climate change, and t build the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Lee will also reinstate the bipartisan ban on offshore drilling.

Hold Corporations and Corrupt Politicians Accountable

Bold solutions require bold investments. In addition to the People Over Pentagon Act, she will champion her legislation, the OLIGARCH Act and the CEO Act, to allocate the funds necessary to bring the scale of solutions the climate crisis demands. 

Lee will use her Appropriations experience to hold fossil fuel corporations who knowingly destroy our planet for short-term profits accountable. In next year’s tax fight, she will propose a tax hike on corporate polluters’ fossil fuel income and wealth, create a robust carbon fee program, and adjust subsidies for oil and gas to meet the record production and profits from these corporations.

Efforts to take on climate change are hampered by politicians who accept thousands in campaign contributions from Big Oil. While working to implement broader anti-corruption reforms,  Lee will also fight to protect important climate legislation already in place from being rolled back by corporate special interests. She will also continue to champion removing corporate influence from politics writ large, including continued advocacy to reverse Citizens United, and championing the passage of the DISCLOSE Act — and ultimately reduce fossil fuel companies’ influence on policy.

Invest In Green Infrastructure

A strong proponent of the green infrastructure and energy provisions included in the final Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, Lee is also an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that will usher in broad national investment in alternative energy, public transit, grid modernization, sustainable building construction, agricultural technologies, and other critical green infrastructure. In the Senate, Lee will help lead the fight to put its tenets into law.

While pushing for its passage, Lee will implement legislation that builds on the Green New Deal principles, including the The Green New Deal for Cities Act, to provide $1 trillion in

federal funding for state and local governments to respond to the climate crisis, and the WATER Act, to target water infrastructure improvements for disadvantaged communities.

Lee will also bring her unique experience negotiating for funding as a part of the Appropriations Committee, where she has successfully worked to provide millions of dollars to green infrastructure and clean water initiatives. In the Senate, Lee will continue to allocate the federal dollars necessary to ensure that all residents, California and nationwide, have clean water and clean air in their communities.

In these funding efforts, Lee will take immediate action to mitigate the broken sewage system polluting the Tijuana River, which poses outsized harms to communities of color who rely on the river for recreation and water. Lee will deliver needed federal funds for immediate infrastructure improvements.

Create Green Jobs & Protect Workers

Lee’s legislative and budget priorities include robust investment in green jobs initiatives, especially in impacted communities hardest hit by the climate crisis. She will ensure  comprehensive support for oil and gas workers to transition to clean energy jobs.

The Green New Deal will create millions of high-wage jobs to urgently upgrade our infrastructure with renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and geothermal. In her commitment to passing the Green New Deal For Cities Act, local governments will create well-paying jobs to implement these projects.

Lee’s championing of the WATER Act to invest in desperately needed water and sewer infrastructure modernization projects will create well-paying jobs that would hire and train from the communities where these projects are located. She will also implement the INVEST Act, which allows a work opportunity tax credit to be used to hire veterans who work in renewable energy.

As Lee works to expand green job opportunities, she will also implement climate-specific protection in her greater labor advocacy. For workers already facing high risk from climate change’s effects — often disproportionately impacting workers of color — she will pass legislation including her SMOKE Act, allowing employees to abstain from work in dangerous air quality conditions without losing pay and benefits.