My Whirlwind Washington D.C. Experience
It has been an eventful past five days. From putting together a statement last minute, to planning an east coast trip over the weekend, to an exciting arrival to Washington DC to give a testimony in front of U.S. House of Representatives; it has all been a whirlwind.
On Tuesday, September 17th I had the opportunity to join four other individuals to give testimonies on our experience of large scale natural disasters that have occurred to our communities. I was there to give an account of the current Rim Fire. I felt honored to represent California and Tuolumne County. Surprisingly, this was one of the first times a group of speakers have been organized together to give individual stories in front of a House Subcommittee of how potential climate change conditions have impacted them. Rep Waxman made the comment, “it will not be the last time.”
It was a powerful group of witnesses. From a Texas rancher who discussed the impact of extreme drought, a New Jersey resident recounting Hurricane Sandy, an Iowa farmer describing the severe weather that has created challenges on his farm, to a Gulf Coast resident who has experienced severe hurricanes and rising sea levels and finally an Assistant Professor from Stanford. It was an impressive crowd with extraordinary stories.
I was struck personally by the Texas rancher’s story. His farm has been in his family for five generations, and he gave testimony that his bison heard is shrinking, and that his bee hives are producing significantly less than any other time before. He also gave a touching description of his own experience of fracking which has been happening in his community, and the concerns he has over the water table and potential contamination.
The other witnesses had amazing stories as well, such as the New Jersey homeowner that has had to remodel her home twice, the Gulf Coast resident who is a Reverend and talked about his communities shift of becoming stewards of the land and preventing climate change and to the farmer in Iowa who made jokes that on his farm summer is in winter, and spring is in fall. Video and complete testimonies can be found here.
All of these stories and first hand experiences lead up to the meeting that took place yesterday, the Subcommitte on Energy & Commerce meeting titled, “ The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.” Witnesses with statements included Gina McCarthy, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ernest Moniz, from the U.S. Department of Energy. Their testimonies and videos can be found here.
My quick experience as a witness and visiting Washington DC to deliver my statement about climate change was inspiring and uplifting. The grass roots work being done by groups like Sierra Business Council is really making a difference, and our ideas and inputs are assisting even Congress in making positive changes towards our future in regards to climate change. I had the opportunity to meet so many great individuals doing so many good things, including Representative Henry Waxman and his staff, Climate Nexus and the staff from Climate Action Campaign.
I have had so much good feedback regarding my statement that addressed the impacts and outlook for the Rim Fire for Tuolumne County. So many people care about Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Nevada and the watersheds and forests that we call home. It is so powerful to be a part of change, and I am excited about the opportunities that will come out of investing in our future, against climate change.