Washington, D.C. – Today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, State Rep. Andrés Cano, and State Sen. Kirsten Engel underscored the urgent need for Congress to pass the bold climate action outlined in the Build Back Better framework. The event, held at Pima Community College Automotive and Technology Center, was hosted by Climate Power and the League of Conservation Voters as part of the Climate Action Now: Great American Build Tour.

During the event, the speakers highlighted the urgent state of the climate crisis in Arizona and the opportunities created by investing in clean energy and resilience, including tens of thousands of new good-paying union jobs. The speakers noted that Arizonans are paying the price of climate inaction, as deadly and dangerous extreme weather ravages their communities. 

Here are some highlights from the event:

“[We are] laser focused on building a clean energy future and capturing the benefits that come with it — cleaner air for our kids to breathe, healthier, safer communities, and good paying jobs that can support our families, right here in Arizona and all across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “But we’re just getting started, and we’re excited about the future that we’re building together.”

Climate action is overwhelmingly popular among the public and Congressman Raúl Grijalva noted that “sometimes, the public is ahead of the policymakers.” Grijalva emphasized that “we’re at a critical point in Congress” and highlighted the urgency of the reconciliation bill, saying: “What is being talked about now, which is of critical importance to the state of Arizona and all of us, is the reconciliation bill […] President Biden said that we’re going to Build Back Better, and he is, through his efforts, attempting very diligently and hard to meet that effort. I think it’s up to us in Congress to follow through. That’s what the public wants, and that is the sentiment that President Biden is reflecting when he talks about what the future needs to be.”

Noting the need for federal action, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources, Energy, and Water Committee State Rep. Andrés Cano said: “The science is clear. Climate change is harming Arizona’s short-term and long-term success. Unless we act, the effect on our families and our community will be grim. We know it best in Arizona. Temperatures are rising, wildfires are ragin, and water supplies are drying up. To date, sadly no meaningful action from the state legislature has addressed our climate resilience, in fact, we’ve outright ignored it.” 

“We at Pima [Community College] have been so focused on […] transforming the College to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. And as such, we have to sometimes go a little back in time. Just a little over a hundred years ago our nation went through an important shift, a big shift, when it went from a biomass-powered economy to a fossil fuel-powered economy,” said Chancellor of Pima Community College Lee Lambert. “Now we sit at another moment in history where we need to make another big shift. […] And that is where I believe our ability to sustain and maintain our economic growth will be powered by alternative energies –renewable energies– and the college stands ready to be focused on that.”

“Changes are already here and coming. In regards to the IPCC report, one of the interesting things is that there’s not much new in there. These are things that we’ve known for years if not decades. That it was gonna get hotter, it was gonna get drier and wetter in different places, that storms would become more intense,” said PCC Professor Charles MacCabe. “My biggest takeaway is the urgency with which we have to deal with these crises. […] If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get away from fossil fuels in the very near future, the consequences will be severe by the end of the century–actually before that. There needs to be a renewed sense of urgency in every aspect of our lives.” 

During the question and answer portion of the event, moderator State Sen. Kirsten Engel noted the slow pace of change, saying: “We’ve known the bottom line that things are getting worse, and yet, there hasn’t been real action coming out of Congress for many years.” Grijalva and Cano highlighted how the pandemic exposed the environmental inequality and created a new and necessary urgency for leaders to take action.

You can view the full event here.

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