tv Hearing on Environmental Justice CSPAN July 27, 2021 2:04am-3:53am EDT
heat wave. it tragically took the lives of nearly 200 americans. the extreme heat capped the hottest tunes in our nations history. it would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human caused climate change. this week, unfortunately, a new and dangerous heatwave is threatening, sparking wildfires, straining grades, putting more lives in danger. on the east coast, waist deep water to reach the new york city subway after heavy rain flooded underground stations across the city. their student -- there's no denying it. we are in a climate crisis. we must act boldly to keep temperatures in check. we hope to help our neighborhoods to adapt to threats that are already here.
from scorching heat waves to stronger storms, the climate crisis affects each community differently. its worst effects are felt by americans in environmental justice communities which include communities of color, low income communities, and indigenous communities. that's why environmental justice must be at the center of climate action. it's why environmental justice is the cornerstone of our climate crisis action plan. it's why today, we will focus on advancing environment of justice through climate action. throughout our history, black, brown, indigenous, low income americans have been disproportionately harmed. today, they are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. black american children are five times more likely than white children to be admitted to the hospital for asthma. latinos are twice as likely to live in areas threatened by
wildfires. communities that have few trees or places to cool off have deadlier outcomes when the weather hits triple digits. tribes are watching their way of life disrupted by climate field weather extremes, wildlife loss, and sea level rise. in puerto rico, families are still living with blue plastic tarps over their homes nearly four years after hurricane maria blew away their roots. this is not a coincidence. environmental justice communities have long been harmed by underinvestment and systemic failures that make it harder for them to bounce back after disaster strikes. they've been subject to racist zoning codes, lending discrimination, and disproportionate proximity to factories, waste sites, and other sources of pollution. climate chains ask as a threat multiplier, taking existing
social and economic inequities and making them worse. that's why climate action must be centered in writing these wrongs, ensuring we do not repeat the mistakes and injustices of the past. solving the climate crisis is about more than just reducing pollution. it's about boosting resilience and vulnerable communities. it's about repairing the legacy of environmental racism. as we expand clean energy and rebuild our infrastructure, we have to be intentional about elevating environmental justice communities. to make sure that these benefits are reaching the most one herbal americans. thanks to the leadership of the representatives, we've made progress on this front as we listen to the priorities of environmental justice communities and translate them into solutions. we passed president biden's american rescue plan which
included funding for empire mental justice. we invested in the america act which makes record investment in transit, funding for weather infrastructure, and creates a ground breaking program to reconnect environmental justice communities divided by highways. this is going to be a very important hearing for all of us. i look forward to hearing our outstanding witnesses. at this time, i will turn it over to the ranking member for his five-minute opening statement. >> thank you. thank you for joining us today. i look forward to your testimony. when we talk about environmental justice, it's important that we talk about disadvantaged communities. it's important that we look at policies that have been carried out and used evidence to inform
our policies, bills, legislation, strategies. as we move forward to a clean energy future, a cleaner energy future in the united states. i know that my friends are going to be shocked to hear me cite california as an example today. i do. i want to cite california. i think it's an example of how flawed policies can be regressive and can exacerbate challenges that some of our disadvantaged communities may be experiencing. it could cause disproportionate burdens to those communities. the state of california, a coalition of civil rights leaders have sued the state over there regressive impact of climate policies on their disadvantaged communities. as a matter of fact, you can
look right now at these programs, these policies that have resulted in the state of california paying 50% more on average for electricity costs. about $.80 more per gallon to fuel their cars. that is compared to the national average. in the lawsuit that was filed against the state of california, citing these regressive policies, they say, california's climate change policies, specifically those policies that increase the cost or reduce the availability of housing and increase the cost of transportation worsen highway congestion and commute times. they further increase electricity costs. they have caused unconstitutional and unlawful disparate impacts to california's minority populations. the policies guarantee that
housing, transportation, electricity will continue to rise while gateway jobs to the middle class or those without college degrees such as manufacturing and logistics will continue to locate another states. we've seen that. california's policies have resulted in some of the highest growth in the united states. it's a disturbing trend. you are causing disproportionate impacts to disadvantaged communities and resulting in higher emissions. the state of california is the only state with five severe nonattainment areas in the state. therefore, as the chair talked about, cases of asthma and other health challenges the disproportionally impact our kids are certainly exacerbated in the state as a result of policy that are purported to help to address climate change
and reduce emissions. my home state, louisiana, we would be paying approximately triple the electricity bills that we currently pay in our state. if we will talk about disproportionate impact and environment of justice, i want to remind the committee that louisiana has one of the highest populations in america. we have one of the highest percentages of those impoverished. let's talk about environmental justice. the justice to our state, citizens. the u.s. army corps of engineers caused the greatest loss of wetlands in the united states, constituting 90% of that loss. many of my friends that are on this committee talk about their willingness and desire to restore the environment and
protect disadvantaged communities. they are repeatedly fighting our efforts to restore our coastal ecosystem to protect these communities from dangerous storms, hurricanes, and floods. it's especially concerning that as we move forward, based on science, data, evidence, building upon the success that the united states has had in reducing emissions more than the next 12 countries. with that, i look forward to hearing from her witnesses and peeled back. >> there we go. members who wish to enter opening statements into the record have five business days to do so. i would like to welcome our witnesses. we will hear from prominent community leaders and researchers on white is critical
to invest in environmental justice. catherine coleman flowers is the founder of the center for rural enterprise and environmental justice. she's an internationally recognized advocate for the human rights of one and sanitation. she works to improve access to clean-air, water, and soil in marginalized rural communities. in 2020, she received a prestigious macarthur fellowship. nikki cooley is the comanager of the tribe and climate change program as well as the interim assistant director of the institute for tribal environmental professionals at northern arizona university. she leads a program to help travel -- tribal nations as they address the climate impact. she works with tribal and indigenous people across the united states and alaska on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and resilience planning.
she is of the not a noble nation. their colic is the founder and manager of a nonprofit focused on african-american outreach. 25 years of experience in advertising and marketing. this doctor is an assistant professor of public policy at ucla. she's an expert in environmental economics, labor economics, and public finance. the research focuses on how climate change affects social and economic outcomes. in particular, the labor and human capital impact of climate change, the prospect for long-run climate adaptation, and environmental determinants for economic mobility. the witnesses written statements will be made part of the record. with that, you are now recognized to give a five-minute
presentation on your testimony. welcome. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity to testify. i'm of the rural been narrative founding director of the center for rural enterprise and environmental justice in montgomery, alabama. i serve as a resident i duke university, a member of the board of advisors for the center for you sick as well as the board of the national resource council and the climate reality project. as the chair stated, in 2020i was awarded the macarthur fellowship in environmental health. in my book, and cover the extent to which world area -- america has been denied access to sustainable and resilient sanitation infrastructure. i'm a proud native of alabama, a
rural area located between montgomery. it has a proud history of fighting for equality and the right to vote. in addition, in the early 1900s, sharecroppers organized jobs and justice. we served in the united states military. we have a legacy of holding democratic values even when they failed us. i sit on the values i learned as a country girl that grew up with a healthy respect for nature. i appreciate what our creator has provided for us which includes the knowledge to know when we are out of balance with creation. that failure is exempt aside -- exemplified through powerful storms, high water tables, drought, floods, unsafe mobile homes, pollution, raw sewage, failing wastewater systems. i've taken policymakers and
people from both sides of the aisle to see the infrastructure inequalities that exist in to hear from local people for what is needed to address them. as one travels through the county now, the fresh graves of the victims of covid are a constant reminder of what happens when poverty, inequality, sanitation infrastructure, and climate change come together. the crisis impacts all of us, whether one is in louisiana or alabama throughout our nation, we are dealing with failing infrastructure, including the most basis -- basic infrastructure, sanitation.
i like to speak in plain english like i would if i was at home speaking to local people or relatives. in alabama, the county has been telling people about the sewage from a nearby lagoon that has been backing up into her home. the failing infrastructure continues to fail and she continues to cry out for help. all the town can provide is a trunk -- truck the pump sewage out of her yard from time to time. this is emblematic of failing wastewater infrastructure across the united states. it is something we need to address. communities should not be left to their own devices as they struggle to cope with the climate crisis and the lack of investment in sustainable infrastructure that goes back decades. failure is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. despite being knowledgeable of the failures of the lagoon system, a similar design is
being planned in whitehall along highway 80. this lagoon would sit next to an elementary school. the liability for failing septic tanks would be transferred to homeowners. this is not considered a failure nor does it account for changing climate producing more rainfall in many areas. nor does it consider the health and well-being of the residents or the nation. how can federal money be used by equipment that does not come with any service or performance warranties? especially when we know that they have failed throughout the nation. this is indicative of the sanitation and equality throughout the u.s., whether in montgomery where black communities have failing fact -- septic tanks, or in community where poor white families are asking for environmental justice and good paying jobs. the american jobs plan provides
opportunity to deal with the climate crisis had on and for guiding rules for communities that experience the most of your job losses. it's a chance to right the wrongs of all marginalized communities and make america a model of ingenuity where we have clean-air, clean water, resilient infrastructure, and good paying jobs for everyone. with this funding should come guardrails that would ensure that she will not get more sewage in her yards. and each on-site system or infrastructure placement and communities should come with the same performance warranties that we have come to expect from a car, a hot water heater, or a cooling system. these guardrails should include strengthened enforcement so that the people of alabama, louisiana, texas, and wherever our nation needs working infrastructure will get the relief and protection from the climate crisis.
it would be neglect or not to mention cancer. residents combat cancer rates due to pollution. they are one crisis away from an environmental catastrophe that could overshadow katrina. i learned in sunday school that we all have the power to do good and changer communities for the better. i implore our leaders and policymakers to recognize the areas outside of urban centers that do not have the privilege to flush and forget. those who are losing their homes to sea level rise, roads that are being destroyed, and their home still provide safe havens from extreme heat or storms. change the formula for disaster relief to enable all americans to receive recovery aid and include people that are renters, live on property or rural communities that are not densely
populated. investing in clean and for structure for all, for communities that have been left behind. we together should confront the climate crisis for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come. i thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. it was an honor and i look forward to continuing conversations about environmental and climate justice for all americans. thank you. >> thank you very much. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on the significant actions of native americans and alaskan native communities in addressing the climate crisis. i acknowledge all of the tribal and indigenous people on whose traditional land we are working and living on. i acknowledge all of my relatives listening in on this important hearing.
i'm from the navajo nation. i reside in flagstaff where i comanage the tribe and climate change program housed under the institute for tribal and environmental professionals. a recent effort was to convene the development of nonrural status of tribes in climate change reports. it has not been published. i will highlight three of the 12 chapters including key messages and recommendations. on the navajo nation, we are seeing a drastic impact of the extreme effect of our land. my people have to haul water for their families, livestock, and crops. that's getting harder due to low water levels. our nation has had to implement water rations, forcing families
to make the decision to decrease or sell their livestock which is devastating to those who depend on them for money and food. our relatives on the coastline in alaska are experiencing the consequences of coastal erosion and rising sea levels, forcing them to plan for relocation. in recent years, wildfires and winter storms have caused power outages, impacting those most honorable. a key philosophy of tribal nations is that water is life. water sustains our bodies, environment, and economy. many tribal nations do not have reliable or adequate access to safe drinking water. the insufficient drinking water infrastructure, combined with a ratification contributes to this imbalance of health, the health of the environment and people. the report recommends funding for not only the installation
but operation and maintenance of drinking water infrastructure. the climate resilient infrastructure could potentially decrease long-term cost and ability to access safe and reliable drinking water is a privilege. it's also a basic human right. i recall vividly during my college homework by kerosene lamps. i recall the uncertainty of the minds shutting down because of job loss. adding to that loss is the opportunity to train mine workers in the reclamation process. there is still the opportunity for tribes and local jobs -- to create local jobs and training opportunities for solar and wind facilities. our people will not have to leave the reservations. tribal nations require the support in terms of financing,
training, and access to resources. my ability accord is buried at my family's home and i'm continually reminded of where i come from and what i have to protect. we are inherently bonded with the earth. through our prayers, ceremonies, and ways of life. due to climate change, many communities are facing the threat from rising sea levels, coastal erosion, it doesn't only threaten the land-based but the people safety, emotional and physical well-being. the report highlights inadequate funding, agency coronation, local capacity as significant barriers for tribes. current infrastructure is at risk. if we wait any longer to address the threats, there will be significant long-term cost. i am the daughter of someone who worked at the peabody coal mine on the navajo reservation for over 30 years.
i know all too well the need for a just transition to a sustainable economy that not only focuses on cleaner energy such as wind and solar but building inadequate and sustainable infrastructure that will protect the people, the environment, but also promote economic security. i stress the importance of acknowledging the unique challenges native americans face. climate change is becoming more frequent, giving less time for recovery, preparation, and increasing costs. i am poor the committee to recognize the staff report as an opportunity to learn more in depth about what tribal nations are doing to protect themselves and their communities against the climate crisis while exploring significant ways to support them. i am the committee to include and recognize the leadership of tribes. the climate crisis will always
be at their doorstep. as an elder recently said, what we do today, we do for the next seven generations. thank you. >> thank you very much. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for the opportunity to speak today. i developed an organization to address social issues impacting the african-american community. the issue i do the most work on is reducing poverty. it occurs in low income families or individuals who are unable to afford basic heating, electric, gas needs. some of them spend more than 25% or more of their total income on an electric bill. living in poverty -- lifting out of poverty is a goal that we should all be interested in achieving.
working toward that goal, being mindful of how policies will impact the same communities that you claim to protect with this kind of proposed legislation. we know the communities around the country, particularly minority and senior citizen communities, suffer from a lack of access to reliable energy sources and are forced to pay much higher for electricity. today's hearing sounds great. however, it will be much more prudent and productive for everyone to include energy poverty into the conversation. the same communities of people that you claim to protect through environment of justice are the same communities of people who are struggling with energy poverty. for the record, i do think climate change exists. i do not believe there's a climate crisis. the narrative is misleading. solutions promote false hope and unrealistic outcomes for americans.
there's not a pole, survey, or any research that would suggest climate change is a major issue or conversation in the black community. it's not. we have the media to blame for that. most black people think adding shot by a police officer is a bigger issue. my sister is a devoted democrat. she waited seven months for her new vehicle to be delivered because they could not get the chips needed to complete her car. i had to settle on a rental car because there are a shortage of cars due to the lack of chips. there are solar companies voicing their concerns because they can't get the materials either. this is a supply chain issue for precious metals like cobalt. it's needed for every solar panel, lithium battery, and radiation treatment. over 60% of the world cobalt comes from the congo. it is being mined by little black kids. we have a cobalt mine in minnesota, trying to be shut
down by environmental groups. to me, this is very racist. it's a glaring example of the hypocrisy that exists. why is it ok for black kids to mine for cobalt in africa? shouldn't environmental justice be a global issue? right now, we see electric charging stations going up everywhere even in communities where they are not being used. an estimated 90% of electric vehicle owners earn over $100,000 a year. it get to a tax credit. most people in these honorable communities do not make a kind of income and are not interested in electric vehicles. it's easy to see how these environmental justice policies will do more harm than good to these individuals. my grandfather was a black coalminer in southwest virginia. i had the opportunity to visit that area. the poverty that exists is different from urban cities. these people have never recovered from the minds that closed the case ago.
my fear is that the same will happen to healthy, thriving immunities that rely on oil and gas jobs for generations. i know plenty of folks in houston, dallas, louisiana who worked in the industry and they are not in agreement with any policies or regulations that will ultimately destroy their lifestyle. i'm a licensed captain. i fished in the atlantic and gulf. i recognize we have to protect our planet. however, the bottom line is that we need to. we agree that american people have gone through enough with the uncertainty that exist from the global pandemic of covid-19. the last thing we need to do is take away good paying jobs, disrupt people's lifestyles more than we already have. industry and industry that we have relied on for centuries. the same industry that has allowed us to create the lifestyle that we have grown to appreciate.
from petrochemicals including plastics, even yoga mats come from fossil fuels. 80% of our interconnect comes from fossil fuels. it's all natural gas and coal. it was that way at the turn-of-the-century. it's that way today. you're not going to get there by the flip of a switch. we need market oriented policy that will allow americans to keep exploring and developing our own natural resources safely while we transition to much cleaner energy and still allow us to maintain our energy and supply chain independence. thank you. >> ok. next. dr. park, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. i'm an assistant professor at ucla.
my training is as a phd economist. given the training, i see my job primarily to help us learn from data and economic statistics. not so much to make political statement. the data seems to tell an increasingly robust and compelling story regarding the interactions between climate change and economic opportunity and equality. with my time, i would like to focus on three main points. the first is that we are only beginning to learn the full economic consequences of hotter temperatures. in part because of the effects of hotter temperatures are quite subtle and may evade traditional tools of measuring. second, in the research that's available, it appears to be the case that heat has highly unequal consequences. not only because rich and poor countries but also within countries, within states, and even individual congressional districts. that would suggest that climate change, without investment,
could exacerbate recent trends in economic inequality. third, the findings from the research, must of which has just come online in the last five years, suggests that we should be engaging in aggressive climate mitigation, transitioning away from fossil fuels, but policymakers may also want to think collectively about climate adaptation. in the time i have remaining, i would like to try to illustrate these points in the context of the effete of -- effective feed on workers. my colleagues at ucla and stanford were able to analyze over 11 million worker computation claims. we find that hotter temperatures significantly increase the risk of workplace injury. if you are working on a day above 90 degrees fahrenheit, this increases injuries by up to six -- 50% on that day. in california alone, we estimate that heat may be causing tens of thousands of workplace injuries per year, many of which lead to
permanent disabilities and loss. the vast majority of these cases are not officially recognized as being he related because they may pertain to things like falling off of the latter, being hit by a crane, getting your hand caught in a manufacturing machine. moreover, we find that he does not only a problem for outdoor workers and construction or agriculture. also for many inter-workers. think of industries like manufacturing, warehousing, and wholesale. we think it's important, given the exclusive policy attention to date on heat illnesses as opposed to injuries and outdoor workers, here's where the details really seem to matter when it comes to climate inequality. how much he hurts is very much a function of individual and local factors like income, occupation, or which neighborhood you live in. we find that the effective feed
on injuries appears to be five times larger for workers in the bottom percentile of the income distribution relative to the top. in part because they are more likely to work in dangerous occupations and industries and to live and work and work stream climates. these patterns of highly local climate inequality appear to persist across a number of recent spaces. whether that's the effective feed on work -- learning, on violent crime, or even maternal mortality. it's worth underscoring how this is not an issue 100 years from now. these effects are occurring right now and are likely to become much more acute, particularly given the amount of warming. voters in your district can expect to experience over 60 additional days per year above 90 degrees fahrenheit within their lifetimes, even with aggressive climate mitigation. the upshot is that, as
policymakers, you want to use this opportunity to think carefully about how to build smart adaptation mechanisms into whatever climate policies are put in place. when it comes to heat, it appears that doing so might have inequality reducing benefits as well. in my written testimony, i outline some important data gaps and additions the -- additional policy applications around infrastructure, racial achievement gaps, air pollution which we can speak to in more detail during the q&a. thank you much and i look forward to our discussion. >> i want to thank the witnesses for their very insightful testimony. i recognize myself for five minutes for questions. there's a common theme in all of your testimony today. that is, how we move ahead on equitable and just climate policy. it has to be more than reducing carbon pollution.
we have to tackle this, environment of racism, and improve the lives of everyday americans no matter who they are or where they live. i heard you loud and clear about the differences you had seen in simple things like wastewater treatment. in the house, we just passed the invest in america act where we made historic investments in wastewater treatment. this is on the front burner for me here in tampa. when we have these extreme rain events, our sewers overflow. it's pretty gross. now we have so much. in tampa bay, we have a massive red tide. the scientists now say it will last longer because the waters are warmer.
this is a toxic stew. we have to repair and strengthen critical infrastructure and do a better job. you talked about the challenges pretty well. what opportunities do you see? if we can deliver on significant historic investment in cleaning of the water and make sure we target those investments to communities of color, what opportunities do you see? be specific with us. >> there are a number of opportunities. one of the opportunities we will be seeing pretty quickly in the health outcomes. we did a parasite study. we found evidence of tropical parasites in lawrence county where people did not have access to adequate imitation. the people that had the highest parasite loads was a woman who had sewage coming back into her home. the second outcome would be that it can provide jobs to people in
the community where they don't feel like they have to leave and go to the city, other areas to find jobs. the third thing is the economic opportunities in terms of being able to recruit businesses to come. in those communities where you don't have adequate sanitation, businesses are not going to locate there. i used to be the economic develop mcchord nader for lawrence county. they want to know what kind of infrastructure is there. without infrastructures, those communities continue to remain poor. they will not have the opportunity to recruit basic services. those are some immediate outcomes that we could see. >> the american society of civil engineers ranked our infrastructure in the u.s. with a c minus grade. and it comes to wastewater, d+. schools, d+. i know there are a opportunities out there to do better.
for tribal nations, you have your eyes on solar and wind power. do you see this as a big job creator? making these investments in renewable energy. >> yes. definitely. these jobs will train former mine workers and their families and the upcoming generation for solar and wind industries, based on the reservation. based on tribal lands that they do not have to go off the reservation, away from their families, away from what they basically have known for all of their lives. it's important that we keep these people on the reservation. the jobs and training opportunities are immense. as a member of one of the largest native american tribes out there, there is great
potential for job creation. thank you. >> your recent research is eye-opening. previously, official estimates have been that exposure to heat causes about 4000 workplace injuries a year. in your review, you say it's closer to 15,000 or more. just in california. is that correct? wire agencies like these completely missing this? >> with our estimates, i'm not a physician. my understanding is that illnesses and injuries due to heat are one of those things that are quite difficult to attribute forensically on a case-by-case basis. in order to do this, you need a vast amount of data. you have to allow you to look at the excess due to heat. more broadly, this is a function
of data collection and interest in this issue. >> thank you. we will go to miss miller. you are recognized for five minutes. >> ok. can you hear me now? >> yes. >> thank you so much. thank you to all of the witnesses here today. we have an awful lot in common. i want to paint a picture now of what's happening in apogee -- in appalachia. there are thousands of homes without sanitary sewage or septic service. that means human waste goes right into the creek in the rivers. there's a high rate of opioid use in drug overdoses. there are adverse health impacts in our communities compared to our surrounding regions. and much more. the impacts are not a result of climate change, as my colleagues
would like you to believe. rather, they are caused by the policies of destroying energy communities. injustice is what we are here to talk to today. where is the justice for the communities that have been left behind by these policies? energy poverty and poverty caused by dangerous policies must be considered by this committee. we are never going to have those discussions if we continue to have -- [inaudible] this council stated that projects like carbon capture, nuclear power, or any improvement would not benefit communities.
we should all be concerned with this. these are the principles that are supposed to guide the administration. if we continue down the same radical path, we will only put more people at risk. mr. hawley, energy poverty is a really -- a very real and communities experience it. how can the policies of shifting to renewables increase energy poverty in the community? >> simple. when you switch to solar and renewables, it will drive up the cost of energy in these communities. i'm not against transitioning. we have to do it slowly and sensibly. >> i agree. what do you think the impact of that will be will be on people's homes? >> in terms of jobs, what it will do to those communities, it will be devastating. i had a chance to go back to southwest virginia where my grandfather was a black coalminer.
i've seen how people live back there. there are people right now who have blue tops on their houses with tires holding them down because they can't afford to get their roofs fixed. that's how bad the poverty is in appalachia. >> i spent an entire day yesterday discussing just those things with people that live there. you've probably seen the white house environmental justice councils report on environmental justice. as i mentioned, the report outlines a multitude of policies that wouldn't benefit a community such as infrastructure repair, procurement of nuclear power, carbon capture, research and development. what do you think of these findings? >> i think it would be devastating to the communities. and what about minority impacts. let's do a study that show how these policies would impact
those communities. i think it would help us understand how these kind of policies, what it would do to these particular communities. >> and we all share that. what policy should we put in place to reduce it? >> a policy that will not harm the environment or the people that need the >> energy the most. >> thank you very much. i yield back my time. >> thank you for the hearing and opportunity to have a conversation. the thing i want to talk about now is consultation. i direct my first question to
ms. catherine flowers. meaningful participation in this process from the community can help us make sure we are fully addressing the needs of the community. as you worked in this space, could you share with us the benefit of this consultation? >> one of the things, i come from rural communities. i have lived in poverty. often times people who try to craft a well-intentioned solutions do not know what it is like to deal with on a day-to-day basis. people like pamela rush who died last july from covid because her home, which was not energy
efficient, a mobile home where she had a mortgage, her family was struggling from a lot of the issues we talk about today and most people have not dreamed about. we have taken people there who could not stay in the house more than five minutes because they had never seen anything like that before. when we do not consult the communities and go into the places, often times people are doing more harm than good and i would always invite everyone who designs policy, often times people are trying to use an urban lens. when you have to live in st. james parish, people have a different perspective. so we have to consult the community because often they know what the solution is up but they just have not been asked. it's crafted by people who are
creating the problem instead of being part of the solution. >> do you agree we should try to find one solution that fits to all? because you have suggested someone just needs to ask the right question. >> i did not grow up in an urban area so i am not an expert on flint. but i think we have to consult with the people because there are different problems in different communities and it is important to know that those people often do have a solution but have not been asked. >> i could not agree more. it is one of the challenges of implementing the program. we have to consult with these folks and let them come up with solutions and help them implement it and get out of their way.
ms. cooley, thank you for participating. along a similar line, you know people should be consulted thoughtfully from the early stages. ethical best practices should be followed to make consultation meaningful. but this practice has not always been followed by the federal government. can you tell us what it looks like when it goes right? >> thank you for the question. i think it has been outlined when you provide meaningful partnership and adequate financing, access to resources that a community thrives and when you provide that support in the long-term, there is a
statistic that the native american communities receive $23 per person for disaster emergency funds while the average american gets $26 per person. so you're giving them not just a seat at the table but taking meaningful action to engage them and remove the barrier and strengthen tribal sovereignty and honoring the trust responsibility that the government has two tribes. -- has to tribes. >> i want to reiterate again that we must invest in environmental justice in disadvantaged communities.
we can listen to them as we look forward to reaching a carbon zero society. i appreciate being able to weigh in on how we might do so and i look forward to working with everyone to make sure we follow through on our promises with meaningful investment in the community and not just a one-size-fits-all solution. i yield back. >> ranking member greg. >> thank you all of the witnesses for their testimony. ms. flowers, you were on the white house advisory council and i believe there was a recommendation saying it would be unreasonable to have any climate investment working
against communities. -- against harmed communities. with that in mind, should the u.s. be pursuing any policies that support directly or indirectly forced labor or slave labor or child labor anywhere in the world to advance clean energy and our country? >> i cannot speak on behalf of the act but i can give my opinion. i think the u.s. should support human rights, no matter where and that we should not do any harm. i saw this in st. james and st. john's parish. when i trace my family history i can trace it back to louisiana.
my interest in what happens to louisiana is for having family there. we might be cousins. anyway. i would love -- i think what we have to do is find solutions. there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem but i think what he intended statement was -- what the intended statement was is we should not do additional harm to those already harmed. >> i appreciate that. there was another issue we have been trying to look through on the committee that has to do with carbon capture. polling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
-- pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. the biden administration the important role -- they say they are committed to accelerating this. does the report appear to take a different approach? do you believe removing carbon gases should be a solution moving forward? >> in my opinion i do not think we should've put greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in the first place. i'm worried about the generations to come. but looking at solutions we have to go to the community. there are some communities that
might support carbon captures and others that might not. so we need to consult with the communities greatly impacted. >> if the communities are on board, do you think we should have local consultations? is that the way we should handle had to use that technology? >> if the community is open to technology, yes. i think you have to have consultations. we cannot force people to do things. we see that with the covid vaccine. but i think we can find ways in which you can come to a common ground on how to address the problems, whether through carbon capture or some after way. >> the report notes that there should be an end of subsidies to
invest their own utility. the biggest subsidy is the incentive for wind and solar. the tax credit. is the task force opposed to those subsidies as well? do you think we should remove those? >> i do not speak for the task force. you might want to ask for consensus. people represent places from around the country. i do not speak on behalf of the task force and i do not have an opinion on that. >> thank you, madam chair. >> mr. love and are recognized for five-minute -- 11 -- levin,
you are recognized for five minutes. >> mr. graves seems to confuse electricity rates and electric bills. if we look at the facts, as i know my friend likes mind and colleagues to do, louisiana has significantly higher electricity bills than california. louisiana ranks 41st for the highest in the nation. and let's not forget that clean energy sources are now generally cheaper than fossil foils. -- fossil fuels. solar power is 20% to 50% cheaper than projected just the year before. solar is now the cheapest in
history. every once in a while, we hear, california is dead. and we know it is only a matter of time before the prognosticators are proven wrong again. so my standing invite to my friend mr. graves is to visit california any time and meet with our policy leaders. ask them tough questions. bring your fossil fuel industry talking point. whatever you want to do. let's have a good discussion rather than reciting tired of talking points. this past year we found
california is above any other state when it comes to creating jobs and growing our economy. we added more than 1.3 million -- 1.3 million jobs last year. no state is perfect. we have a lot to do. problems to be solved. let's stay in the realm of facts. i will turned out to ucla, dr. park, i want to ask about grid unreliability. >> grid reliability would be a terrible issue if you're
electricity is failing when the demand is high, temperature is high and people are running ac, given what we know about the detrimental effects on student learning, and byway, divergent rates by race -- and by the way, divergent rates on race, it would be a problem. >> what kind of access to native american communities have when it comes to electricity? are there resources to make sure our native american communities have access to clean electricity? >> we have access to wind and solar required but do not have adequate or reliable financing, training, resources or access to the renewable energy careers and
infrastructure. they could greatly help in reducing reliance and negative impacts on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. as i come from a nation that has heavily relied in the past on fossil fuel as an industry, the potential is great, we just have to tap into it. we need the support and a form of financing and access. if you invest in this type of infrastructure for tribal communities they have the opportunity in the future to help other nontribal communities if there is a natural disaster. a good example is the tribe in northern california during the wildfires. when electricity was shut off to reduce wildfire spread, the
microgrid supported surrounding nontribal communities and patients who are most at risk. >> thank you. i am out of time. i yield back. >> russ carter, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for testifying to what i believe is an important view. we share many of the same concerns about policies that my colleagues and i have discussed and also we share a passion for fishing.
some of my fondest memories are fishing with my dad as i grow up and i want to make sure my son and grandson have that same experience. we had -- we learned some lessons from the cancellation of the coast pipeline. in your testimony today, when you said you feared the same would happen in communities that have good paying gas jobs for generations, for my reference can you speak for little bit about the effects of removing big-name industries?
>> absolutely. >> my grandfather was a black coalminer. i saw what happens there. it's a shame. right now in all of these places, they have jobs in the oil and gas industry and they are concerned what will happen if their jobs go away. their lives will be completely disrupted. one of the guys has been working there for 27 years. to get him to train at another job at age 54 is a little unrealistic. >> what areas are most at risk for this kind of energy poverty? >> it's not a white or black
issue, it is an american issue. it's all the communities. it is senior citizens, low-paid members of the community, minorities. they are struggling the most. those are the ones the environmental justice is supposed to protect. >> when you talk about energy poverty, some americans are spending more than 25% of their income on the electric bill. the price of gas has gone up more than 45% from a year ago. by these increases and inflation going up, what will the infect -- what will the effect to be on those communities? will this increase poverty? >> absolutely. energy is a fixed price. when prices go up at the pump,
you experience it everywhere. let us, milk, everything goes up -- the price of lettuce, milk, everything goes up when the cost of electricity goes up. so these people will be impacted more than anyone else. >> you talked a little in your testimony when -- about encouraging electric vehicles. it's great but if energy prices and gas goes up, who will end up bearing the higher cost? >> the environmental justice community. >> that's what frustrates me sometimes. i don't think some of my colleagues understand that the impact of higher energy prices
impacts the mode of income the most. georgia is the number one forestry state in the nation and i'm proud of it but we have to address this and climate change but we have to address it with a policy that includes stable, reliable, affordable energy. i yield back. >> next up, representative kasten you are recognized for five minute. -- five minutes. >> if you can heat your home or drive your car without using fossil fuel, do it.
but we need to invest capital to save money. it's a problem if you are in the business of extracting fossil fuel. we have to make sure those people are protected. ms. flowers, you mentioned energy efficiency. some people [indiscernible] a lot of utilities and states have tried to provide resources to pie the up -- to provide the upfront capital and it is not worked as hard as it should have to make sure we have access to more efficient homes. any suggestions on what we should do federally to accelerate the access to capital
for people who might in the -- you might not be able to afford the initial investment? >> it's not my area of expertise but as a consumer who has talked with people who have had issues with access to capital, we should make sure there are green banks set up in their community the and that capital is available so businesses there can benefit. because what happens no matter who is responsible, the communities. benefit and someone comes in from the outside and takes the lead and leaves the community poor. we have to make sure the homes are energy-efficient. in alabama, my home state, a lot
of people are living in mobile homes and one reason we have a high rate of dying is mobile homes. power bills are easily 400 or $500 a month and they live off of $1000 a month. so make the capital available in the communities that need it the most. >> i hope in the plan we are able to make sure the capital is available. dr. park, your testimony was fascinating and i'm interested in what you mentioned about regional differences in how costs are borne. it brought to mind a prior witness, michael greenstone, and his work.
he has dedicated a long time to the cost of carbon. can you give me a sense of these differences? what is the disparity and why should we be thinking about it? how does it very regionally? >> michael greenstone is sort of like the trunk of the tree of knowledge that i have branched off of. we've been talking a lot about the potential for clean energy policy to be regressive in terms of who bears the cost. in theory it's true but it's like saying you could die from heart surgery. yes, but it depends on how you
do it and how well you do it. i think many colleagues would agree it comes down to smart policy design. there nothing inherent to be regressive in terms of the outcomes. in terms of regional disparities, the answer is we are still learning how big the disparity is. we know a lot about the physical impact of climate change and how it might very. -- vary. i could give you a table about what to expect for the next 10 years with a lot of precision but we do not know how much individuals in particular areas, how things -- the effect of heat
on electricity bills, health, learning, etc. my guess is the regional disparities are very large and the federal government will have an important role to play in spreading out risks. >> thank you. i yield back. >> there is no doubt we would all like to see the data. >> i want to make a point in regard to things said by ms. flowers. i grew up in alabama. my dad was a longer. he had a 10th -- logger.
he had a 10th grade education. later he put new roofs on houses. i understand what it is to work in extreme heat. i was on the football team and we had practices twice a day on turf that was 110 degrees. would you agree fiscal health and condition is a factor in how people respond to extreme heat? >> is physical health a factor? absolutely. >> thank you. my dad's parents lived in a house that was heated on a wood burning stove. they cooked on that.
ms. coley, although the navajo people did not arrive in my area until 1400s emigrating from canada, but i'm sure your research shows mega-droughts that had an impact in the indigenous people that were in the region at that time. >> that's what archaeologists say but that's a different session. these mega-droughts are talking about are happening more
frequently and maybe back in my ancestors day they did not happen as much, but yes they are happening. >> they were actually more frequent than an lasted longer. to some lasted over 100 years at that time and the science says it was more errant then than at any other century. they were longer and worse at that time. it was because of climate change. mr. hawley, i appreciate you being here. i want to touch on something about lowering energy costs and what has happened with hydraulic tracking and how it brought down the cost of natural gas. it lowers costs of heating and cooling.
it should make it more economically feasible for low income houses to keep their homes cooler. there are studies out that says there are 17 times more people die from cold than from heat. i also found that because of the lower natural gas costs it is estimated it saves 11,000 americans from dying each winter. i have brought this up many times, pembroke township in illinois, 85% african-american, they do not have a natural gas pipeline. they heat with propane and wood-burning stoves because they cannot afford the utility bills.
would you agree that it would be good to get a natural gas pipeline into that township? that is what jesse jackson is trying to do. >> yes. if there are more pipelines running under a city or state, it's not going to hurt anyone. >> i just want to point out that even though the recommendations from the white house about no new pipelines that that will be very detrimental to the low income people who need additional infrastructure. my time has expired. i yield back. >> representative huffman you are recognized for five minutes.
we have corrected him a few times now. but today we have heard a new creative set of allegations drawn from a lawsuit, easy enough to file so i will state the obvious. in california like everywhere we have industry funded groups and lawsuits aimed at blocking climate reforms. if filing a lawsuit and lobbying a bunch of provocative allegations is enough to make them true, rudy giuliani would still have a law license and donald trump would be president. with few exceptions the people and experts who have dedicated their lives to environmental justice in protecting disadvantaged communities, most
of them agree fossil fuel pollution is a huge problem and climate change impacts are huge problem and if we care about disadvantaged communities we need more climate action, not less. that's why i am pleased that the american jobs plan commits 40% of the deficit into climate to disadvantaged communities. a microgrid at the red coast airport will provide clean renewable power and flexible power that elementary -- that eliminates greenhouse gases. that's what we are doing in california. the blue lake rancher rio was a
previous microgrid i was pleased to support. they are one of the partners on the new microgrid. i want to give you a chance to respond to mr. hawley's claim. he's become a frequent flyer for our republican friends in these hearings. his views are really an outlier to those who have dedicated their lives to serving the disadvantaged. this notion that maintaining our dependency on fossil fuels is somehow good for people of color because it provides cheap energy and jobs. so i am wondering if you could speak to what you have seen happened in california, where i believe our climate programs are generating revenue being used for several things that are helping disadvantaged communities. >> thank you representative huffman for that question.
as someone invited here to talk about the findings of the staff report i will tell you the tribal nations have the opportunity to not be so reliant on the central grid on the fossil fuel industry. i come from a community that has felt and seen the impacts of mostly negative and the reliance increases resilience against power outages and less reliance off of energy sources off the reservation. it can help tribes achieve academic -- economic sovereignty and stability.
>> dr. parks, same question for you on the job side. not everyone can get into you see santa barbara so i love ucla. thank you for being part of our hearing. please speak to the upside of new jobs from clean energy. >> i'll start with the general point, that we have focused a lot on the potential cost of clean energy but there are hidden benefits that will benefit low income communities, particularly in terms of reduced air pollution, which now know has very detrimental effects on health, student cognition, worker productivity. the oil and gas workers mr.
hawley has referred to might rely on the industry for their jobs but it is also poisoning them and affecting their health. these are things we need to bear in mind as we have a holistic conversation about the cost and benefits. >> thank you. i yield back. >> representative gonzalez, you are recognized for five-minute -- five minutes. >> thank you. i think it is fair to say advocating for environmental justice is relatively easy to say but not as easy is recognizing that aggressive advocacy might direct attention away from problems that pose a more immediate public health threat.
this dilemma has been on full display for the last few weeks despite the biden administration setting ambitious targets, they are openly lobbying opec to pump more oil, knowing it will bring down gas prices. i don't want to spend a ton of time on california. ohio is run better. after california implemented there cap and trade policy researchers found it did not deliver air quality benefits and low income communities. it raised their utility bills which are already more than 8% of their income, four times
higher than what wealthy americans pay. i have a lot of fond memories about california but climate policy is not something we should do nationally. how important is it to low income minority families that we keep their costs affordable? >> incredibly important. and it's not just me. jesse jackson and others are saying that we need natural gas as we transition to clean energy. if not, it will raise the cost. >> i think that is the important point. maybe some are saying we should not address it at all. i think there's a question of how we do this in a way that is thoughtful and will not hurt the communities we are trying to help.
ms. flowers i would like to touch on a report you worked on with the white house advisory council. you said some things are not beneficial to environmental justice communities. one was nuclear energy. second was carbon capture, road improvements. and then r&d. can you explain the thinking that led to suggest that congress and the white house should not eliminate funding for these projects moving forward? >> i cannot speak for the white house or the advisory council. there were 26 other members who gave their opinions and had various reasons. i am one person. but i think everyone on the council is trying to find a way to address the problems in their communities.
i would like to offer that whatever we ultimately do, i think we all believe there should be -- so that we can make sure my grandson has a future in terms of a livable planet. >> do you believe we should eliminate r&d funding? >> no. >> mr. hawley you highlighted that owe their -- over 60% of the cobalt is mined by the children. a letter was addressed to congress that we should prioritize environmental concerns over the rights of
congolese children in slavery. how should global human rights and justices figure in thinking about environmental justice? >> we have to include it. this is a global issue. if not, we are hypocrites. >> there are important and difficult trade-offs. it's not an easy issue. i hope we can get to a place where we start to recognize the inherent trade-offs required to make progress. i yield back. >> representative brownlee you are recognized for five minutes. >> i apologize for being late to the hearing. i was tied up with a constituent who had a tragic death in the family and i could not get away. thank you for having the
hearing. my question goes to dr. park. i represent ventura county in california. it's not the hottest but it is heating faster than any other county in the country. so this is a very important issue for farmworkers, agricultural community, community and whole. oxnard is a city in ventura county. it is a working class family with a lot of ej impacts and homes. one thing oxnard has done locally is offering free fruit trees to residents to plant in their front yards for food and shade.
in your testimony you talked about needing to look at smarter adaptation of policy. shade comes to mind. what are other smart adaptation policies you would suggest? >> i will never forget driving back from a workshop and driving through oxnard on a hot day when there were wildfires and the smoke was billowing through and agricultural workers were still working through the heat and smoke. you mentioned trees. i'm not as familiar with that but i know they have cooling
benefits in urban areas but you want to be careful about the water stress, in a place like california there are trade-offs certainly. but this may sound mundane but even something as simple as making sure the schools and homes in low income communities have written -- have reliable grids and access to air conditioning when they need it. sometimes ac gets a bad rap in environmental circles because of the great is not clean it can lead to cancellation but if it is a clean grid, we know that air-conditioning has life-saving benefits, particularly again for disadvantaged communities. i think there are many suggestions if you look at it carefully under what kind of investments and policy you could pursue. >> california has laws with
regards to partition king -- protecting farmworkers and making sure they have water and shade. can you make any determinations about the impacts of the laws and quantifiable improvement? >> another great question. i will be the typical researcher that says we need more data. i think we really do. we need to know exactly what kinds of policies will be most effective at protecting workers from climate risks in part because as we have learned from the pandemic, there were trade-offs involved when trying to regulate the workplace. i tend to be an optimist and believe there are ways to do this. in data we observe the impact of
heat on injuries appears to be declining over time in california, which might have something to do with the fact that california was the first place to mandate heat policies. >> so there is not comparative data you have from others states that have not implemented those rules in the workplace compared to california? the risks you spoke of in your testimony have gotten greater across the country. >> i hesitate to extrapolate but that comparison is certainly on my wish list of things we should deal with. >> thank you i yelled back. -- i yield back.
>> to the witnesses, i appreciate your testimony and being here today. the heat wave across the pacific northwest last month was one of the deadliest natural disasters in my home state of oregon. 116 oregonians lost their life. many more across the region. i want to repeat that people were dying in their homes because of the heat. low income neighborhoods became heat islands surrounded by concrete. many seniors lack air conditioning and fans. communities of color were living on the streets.
a researcher used a thermal camera and measure temperatures in portland. air temperature of 124 degrees in southeast portland. 25 degrees higher than it was in more prosperous neighborhoods. we cannot ignore the consequences for low income communities and scientists have found the deadly heat wave would have been impossible without human caused climate change. we have to protect our communities. too many lives were lost during the heat wave. a 38-year-old farmworker died at
his worksite in oregon where temperatures were 115 degrees. acceptable. the climate crisis means more people like him are working in hazardous conditions. oregon implemented standards after he passed away. what steps should congress take to make sure people have access for workplace protections? we have extreme temperatures and wildfire smoke is becoming more prevalent. >> the tragic case you mentioned, it is something consistent with our data. we found the effect of heat industries is younger -- is worse for younger workers. we cannot definitively say why but it might have to do with the client of occupations or
industries and work environments . in terms of policy responses, i hesitate to make blanket recommendations but i think research shows that this is an issue that official statistics historically might have understated the importance of. we've been talking about inequality, but these costs are borne by society as a whole, as well. the worker suffers in terms of pain and medical bills and lost wages. employers suffer loss of productivity, hiring costs, we all pay into insurance systems, etc. so it affects all sectors. >> i appreciate in your
testimony you referenced algae blooms and the costs to the indigenous people. warmer temperatures in the columbia river are endangering salmon, an important part of the tribes. there is a network of observation stations and that river. how can congress better support partnerships with tribes and what are some barriers for tribes in accessing funding for this effort? >> one of the main things the u.s. government can do is remove barriers to the travel sovereignty. salmon and other foods are critical. many tribes call them critical infrastructure for their way of
life and use it to protect the traditional knowledge. so investment in funding, access to resources for training of native americans to keep jobs on the reservation is critical to the livelihood in terms of traditional ways of life and foods they depend on. >> i yield back. >> thank you. listening to the witnesses today as we close out the hearing, i really appreciate your perspective, and that of the members coming from different parts of the country, everyone is suffering through the escalating impacts of the
climate crisis but the witnesses really bolstered the need to enact recommendations into law and we have an opportunity to do it this summer through the american jobs plan where we want to direct 40% of the benefits of infrastructure investment to environmental justice communities. they have been carrying a disproportionate burden for too long and that's hopefully what we will be able to do. so thanks again to the terrific witnesses. i would like to enter two reports. an introduction from a july 2021 report from the union of concerned scientists about how the u.s. epa can protect the public from hazardous -- the
second is a paper titled widespread race and class disparity and heat extremes. in reference to the droughts in the southwest, i encourage everyone to go back to the most recent climate assessment that made it clear that lower precipitation, increasing temperatures are amplifying droughts, especially in the southwest and they state specifically it is disproportionately burdening our tribal communities. i encourage you to refer back to that, as well.
representative graves? >> i would like to submit a letter to president biden regarding employment activity in three parishes. i have a document indicating electricity rates in california -- and a document from the james beard foundation showing the numbers in louisiana far surpassed others. >> is there any objection? >> i object that he is trying to enter a false report from a louisiana restaurant. > i'm told we are live.