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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank Rep. Ellison for holding this special order tonight as Congress works to break away from business-as-usual with regards to our nation's energy future.

I would also like to thank the Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representatives Woolsey and Grijalva, for your leadership and your tireless efforts to promote proper stewardship of our communities by protecting the environment.

It is so important that we continue to call for action on these issues surrounding global warming and the continued degradation of our environment that is perpetuated by our dependence on fossil fuels.

As I have said time and time again--there is no denying the interconnection between our stewardship of the environment and the state
of the economy, public health, and our communities.

The drastic acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions has often been concentrated in low-income and minority communities, putting these vulnerable populations on the ``front lines'' of the fight against environmental degradation and global climate change.

Simply put, climate change has, and will continue to exacerbate the problem of poverty and inequality, and none of us can afford to take this lightly.

The health of our community and our neighbors affects all of us.

Let me take a moment to reflect upon the urgent need to finally put a price on carbon emissions and make polluters pay for the pollution they produce.

As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I look forward to working with my colleagues here in Congress to pass responsible and comprehensive climate legislation that will establish a price for carbon emissions and spur the development of clean, renewable energy and the deployment of much-needed energy efficient technologies.

Legislation which sets us on the path toward energy independence and a new, low-carbon economy will help to maintain the United States position as a leader in innovation while at the same time creating hundreds of thousands of good paying green jobs.

The biggest misconception out there today regarding our environment is that the public isn't engaged, or willing to transition to a sustainable, environmentally-friendly economy.

In reality, the shift to a low-carbon economy represents an economic opportunity for individuals across this country.

One of the most exciting and inclusive solutions to the many issues facing environmental health is the possibility afforded to us by promoting Green Jobs Training and the growth of the Green Economy in America.

To that end, I have reintroduced legislation entitled the Metro Economies Green Act, or MEGA, H.R. 330, which establishes grant programs to encourage energy-efficient economic development and green job training and creation.

This legislation would also create a national institute to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices information in order to facilitate the successful expansion of the green jobs movement on a national scale.

As the Representative of California's 9th Congressional District, I would also like to take a moment to recognize the role that California's East Bay is playing at the forefront of the Green Jobs and Green Industry movement.

We have a number of innovative initiatives in my district in particular, including the East Bay Green Corridor Initiative, the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, the Joint Bio Energy Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Energy Biosciences Institute at Berkeley.

I recently visited the site of the Oakland Green Jobs Corps with Special Advisor to President Obama on Energy and Climate Change, Carol Browner, in order to show her a truly groundbreaking example of green-collar workforce development already up and running in Oakland, CA.

The Oakland Green Job Corps is a partnership of community organizations, trade unions, private companies, and the City of Oakland. It provides Oakland residents with the necessary training, support, and work experience to independently pursue careers in the new energy economy.

The fact is, ``Green'' has already become the fifth largest industry in the nation--80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector.

Between 1998 and 2007, job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia, and we are just beginning to tap into our nation's clean energy potential.

Passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, especially one which includes a robust Renewable Energy Standard, is essential to delivering cleaner energy and good-paying jobs to communities across the nation.

A strong Renewable Energy Standard will spur innovation and the expansion of economic opportunities surrounding the green movement.

The current draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act sets America on a path to meet 20 percent of our electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020.

This is an important start, but I am also confident we can do more.

It is the time to think big, not small, and I urge my colleagues to consider strengthening this standard so that we might take full advantage of the enormous renewable energy potential across this country.

This is only one of many important priorities we must address in order to ensure no communities are left behind in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

There is no doubt in my mind that a greener future will lead to a more prosperous future for our communities, the Nation, and the world.

I urge my colleagues to act swiftly to move America beyond its dependency on oil, address the climate crisis, and help protect America's natural resources for our children's future.

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