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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Climate Change

 

The science is clear: climate change is already occurring, it is caused by human activity, and it is the greatest existential threat to our planet that we have ever known. 

Rep. DeFazio is an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal and the Climate Emergency Resolution, and he pushed for the creation of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

However, this is not enough. We must act now to combat climate change, end our dependence on fossil fuels, and create millions of family-wage jobs in a 21st century energy economy.

In 2016, policymakers at the Paris climate talks commissioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to conduct research on the impact that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels would have on the planet. In October 2018, the IPCC released their alarming findings: we only have twelve years to significantly curb carbon emissions in order to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Even a half degree above 1.5 degrees Celsius would considerably worsen droughts, flooding, fires, and other extreme weather events, which in turn would exasperate global poverty, harm public health, damage the economy, spur large migration flows, and cause massive environmental damage that may not be reversible.

A month later, thirteen U.S. federal agencies—including the Environmental Protection Agency—jointly published a climate report. This report, the National Climate Assessment, makes clear that every region of the country is already experiencing the detrimental effects of climate change, and it warns that “[f]uture impacts and risks from climate change are directly tied to decisions made in the present.” The report also predicts that, by the end of this century, global warming will damage the U.S. economy even more than the Great Recession did. President Trump said he didn’t believe his own administration’s findings. 

Despite what President Trump tweets, the IPCC and U.S. reports cannot be ignored.  The science is clear that if we don't act immediately the destructive effects of climate change will worsen; we are already experiencing severe weather events like floods and droughts.

In June 2017, President Trump formally announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark 195-nation Paris Climate Accord which undertakes ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. The U.S., the second largest carbon dioxide emitting nation and the biggest per capita, now stands as the only country in the world that is not a formal partner of the accord. 

In May, the new Democratic majority passed H.R. 9, which prevents Trump from leaving the Paris Climate Agreement by requiring his administration to meet carbon emission reduction commitments even if the U.S. formally withdraws.  Additionally, the House passed a FY20 funding bill that prevents any funds from being used for Trump’s attempt to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

21st Century Green Transportation

As  Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. DeFazio is taking direct action to enact the goals of the Green New Deal through legislation and policy.

The transportation sector is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. By transforming our transportation system, we can affect real and long-term change.

We need a 21st-century vision for transportation policy that will blaze a path to a fossil fuel-free future. We can’t just repair what we have; we also need to modernize how we plan, execute, and build transportation projects.

As Chairman, Rep. DeFazio is pushing to electrify our transportation sector and invest more in alternative modes of transportation. In addition, he is working to invest in green technologies that will unlock new eco-friendly fuel options, reduce carbon emissions, and encourage further electrification of our highway system.

Rep. DeFazio held the first-ever hearing in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the climate crisis this February. The hearing examined the role the transportation sector plays in climate change, explored the dual-track approach of mitigation and resiliency, and heard expert testimony in the public and private sector from those who have demonstrated solutions for reducing carbon emissions and building green resilient infrastructure.

Rep. DeFazio is working on an infrastructure bill that reduces carbon emissions, electrifies the national highway system, provides greener transit options, and requires that all federal buildings meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum standard. He has also directed all six of his subcommittees to investigate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

On Earth Day, Rep. DeFazio joined Oregon State University Professor Bill Ripple, lead author of Worlds Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice to discuss scientific findings of the urgency of combatting climate changes and the ways to do so.


Incentivizing New Carbon-Free Fuels

The investments in new and growing industries such as climate resilient infrastructure and renewable energy like solar, wind, and hydropower—an abundant resource in the Northwest—will be greatly beneficial to Oregonians. There are other new technologies that can speed our independence from fossil fuels.

In August 2019, Rep. DeFazio held a  forum to learn more about harnessing hydrogen from excess solar, wind, and water. He met with the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), which is exploring ways to use excess solar and wind power to manufacture renewable hydrogen for transportation fuel cells and energy storage for the next generation energy grid.  According to the Hydrogen Council, harnessing hydrogen using renewables could help us deliver 18 percent of our nation’s energy needs without adding carbon to the atmosphere. Many of these technologies already play a role in meeting the energy needs of other nations and can help meet our nation’s future energy needs.

Our Children’s Trust – Our Children’s Future

Rep. DeFazio has joined an amicus brief in support of Juliana v. The United States, a landmark court case brought forward by Our Children’s Trust, a group of young people advocating science-based climate recovery policies. This group has sued the federal government for the right to a healthy atmosphere and a stable climate free from the effects of climate change. 

The work that Our Children’s Trust has already completed has brought us one step closer to achieving a legal foundation and requirement to solve the climate change crisis.

Rising Sea Levels and Ocean Acidification

Scientific research—most notably a study led by researchers at Oregon State University—has demonstrated that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly increasing the acidity of our oceans.  Approximately one third of human related carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by our oceans, which only increases the surface water acidity. This increased acidity is threatening our entire ocean food chain and the viability of valuable U.S. seafood industries. Commercial oyster production on the West Coast alone generates more than $100 million in gross sales annually, with total economic activity topping a quarter billion dollars nationwide. Yet, oyster farmers in Oregon and Washington are worried that they may have to close their operations because increased ocean acidity is preventing oysters from growing at a pace that is commercially cost effective.

But no one - not even those who deny climate change - can dispute the science that additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is acidifying the oceans, posing a direct threat to our environment, our economy, and our survival.

Of additional concern is the steady rising of sea levels, which will only continue to rise due to ocean warming alone.  Sea level rise on our coasts could lead to permanent or episodic flooding of low-lying lands, increase erosion and shoreline change, increase damages from coastal storms, and lead to saltwater intrusion of coastal freshwaters. This could have devastating effects on coastal communities, economies, and cultures. Everything in our natural world is interrelated, which is why it is so important to fight climate change in every way possible.

More on Climate Change

Apr 11, 2019 Press Release

Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) responded to President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders to ease the permitting process for oil and gas pipelines, weakening the Clean Water Act.

Apr 9, 2019 Press Release

Today, in a letter led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), lawmakers urged the Trump administration to abandon its proposed “Dirty Water Rule,” and instead leave clean water protections in place.

Mar 8, 2019 Press Release

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer have filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the Juliana v. United States youth plaintiffs in their landmark climate lawsuit and urging the Court to allow the pending case to proceed to trial.

Mar 8, 2019 Press Release

Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Representative Don Young (R-AK), and Representative John Katko (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019 to address America’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure and local water quality challenges.

Mar 5, 2019 Blog Post

Last month’s rollout of the Green New Deal, a fourteen-page legislative resolution, sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, that called for “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” through a ten-year “national mobilization,” has sparked a good deal of controversy.

Mar 1, 2019 Press Release

Thousands Urge Ninth Circuit to Allow Juliana v. United States to Go to Trial Youth Plaintiffs’ Climate Lawsuit Supported by 15 Amicus Briefs

Today, powerful voices of support for the Juliana v. United States youth plaintiffs and their landmark constitutional climate lawsuit filed amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Feb 19, 2019 Blog Post

Let’s consider some real news, for a change: Last year was officially proclaimed the fourth-warmest on record; scientists predict that melting ice in Antarctica and 

Feb 19, 2019 Blog Post

The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames.

Dec 14, 2018 Blog Post

Incoming House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told reporters on Friday he was on board with a plan to establish a select committee tasked with working on solutions to combat climate change.

"I have no concerns about it," he said. "This is the existential threat to the future of the planet. I don't think we can have too many members actively involved."

Dec 11, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Today, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA) released the following statements after the Trump administration released a proposal to significantly limit which of our Nation’s waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.