Oregon and California attorneys general discuss climate change’s impact on low-income communities

At an October 29 panel discussion, “Confronting the Climate Crisis: Western AGs Respond,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum spoke about the impact of climate change in the western United States. Discussing the evolution of the environmental justice movement from the 1980s to the present day, Bonta and Rosenblum highlighted the climate crisis’s disproportionately high impact on low-income communities and people of color. They also explained their work in response to climate change and its effects, and discussed how the federal government can support state-level climate policies and programs. 

The virtual event was hosted by the NYU State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. It was moderated by Lisa Garcia, director of Fix, the Climate Solutions Lab at climate reporting website Grist; Jim Jones, former Idaho attorney general, and Gladys Limón, executive director of the California Environmental Justice Alliance.

Watch the full discussion on video:

Selected remarks from the discussion:

Rob Bonta: “Whether it’s a rural community like Poplar, California, or an urban area like East Los Angeles, low-income communities and communities of color are feeling the impact of this [climate] crisis today; they’re hit first and they’re hit worst. We must fight with climate action no doubt—but must also fight with environmental justice to ensure communities living at the junction of poverty and pollution are protected.… We have a global challenge which is massive in size, scope, and scale and it requires action that matches that size, scope, and scale.” (video 19:53)

Ellen Rosenblum: “When your state has experienced the devastation of communities by wildfires burning more intensely and broadly and longer than ever before, due in large part to climate change, you can’t help but be personally impacted by it. The smoke in the air from fires has impacted all of us. This past summer, it even impacted those on the East Coast…. The experience that we’ve had just emphasizes the importance of having stronger policies upfront to address the causes and not just the symptoms of climate change.” (video 34:04)

Posted on November 15, 2021