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Attorney General Bonta Calls on Congress to Take Bold Action on Environmental Justice, Climate Change-Related Priorities

OAKLAND ­– California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a multistate coalition, called on Congressional leaders to prioritize funding for an array of legislation and initiatives related to environmental justice and climate change. Already this year, the West has battled record-breaking wildfires, unprecedented drought, and extreme heat – and these climate-fueled disasters have only exacerbated enduring environmental injustices faced by low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal and indigenous communities. While states like California have long been at the forefront of the fight against climate change and environmental injustice, state programs alone are not enough. In today's letter, a coalition of 20 attorneys general urges Congress to take strong and decisive action to combat the ongoing climate crisis and ensure that all people can live in a community that is healthy and safe. 

“Time is running out in the fight against climate change. In the past few weeks alone, millions of Americans have experienced the devastating realities of this crisis first hand in the form of hurricanes, fires, droughts, and floods,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Unfortunately, for many of our most vulnerable communities, environmental devastation and the resulting health consequences are nothing new. Congress must meet this moment, and take bold, swift action to stave off the worst effects of climate change and ensure that no one is breathing toxic air or drinking dirty water.”

In the letter, the coalition urges Congress to:

Respond to the Climate Emergency with Bold Action: Congress must respond to the climate crisis by enacting legislation that ensures a rapid transition to a clean energy economy, combats climate change, and invests in a more equitable future for all. Specifically, Congress should:

  • Promote clean and renewable energy by enacting the Clean Energy Payment Program, which would incentivize decarbonization of the electricity sector;
  • Invest in energy-efficient schools and affordable housing to advance climate goals, save consumers money, and address inequity;
  • Fund zero-emissions school buses and invest in charging infrastructure to support the transportation fleet of the future; and
  • Address methane pollution by imposing a fee on methane emitted by oil and gas facilities and funding the replacement of leaking distribution pipes and the cleanup of abandoned wells.

Prioritize Environmental Justice Funding: All communities should be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a safe and healthy environment. Too often, however, low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal and indigenous communities are denied all three. To address the enduring and disproportionate burdens of pollution, climate change, and other serious health and environmental harms faced by these communities, Congress should:

  • Fully fund the expedited replacement of all lead pipes and service lines in the U.S.;
  • Substantially increase funding for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure;
  • Prioritize additional investments in air quality monitoring in the communities and at polluting facilities;
  • Ensure 40 percent of improvements funded by the budget reconciliation bill benefit disadvantaged communities;
  • Prioritize funding for the remediation and restoration of Superfund sites in low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal and indigenous communities. 

Protect Communities, the Environment and Public Participation: Informed decision-making and public participation are not obstacles to infrastructure development; they are critical components of it. Congress should not limit the quality of National Environmental Policy Act review and public participation or include categorical exclusions for certain types of projects in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in filing the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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