With focus on clean energy, environment, and climate change policies a priority of the Institute and collaborating and supporting USC students another priority it is always gratifying to partner with the USC Environmental Student Assembly.
The Trump administration’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, whose track record of suing the EPA to stop enforcement of clean air and clean water regulations as well as denying the impact of human caused climate change, coupled with the slashing of the EPA budget by Trump has given Californians and most Americans cause for concern. So it was especially timely for the ESA forum to have top national and state leaders perspective on what lies ahead.
Barbara Boxer has been a champion of environmental protection her entire career, from when she represented California in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2017 and prior to that serving on the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Having her share her unique perspective with the USC community was most appreciated by the hundreds of students and faculty in attendance. During her keynote address she warned the audience of the danger of “alternative facts” and not valuing science. She was most encouraging when pointing to the example of California’s leadership on environment and the national and global impact it is having.
Her keynote was followed by a great discussion with Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, former EPA Secretary of California in the Schwarzenegger Administration and Mary Nichols, the Chair of the California Air Resources Board, and moderated by Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss, who served as Senior Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger. The ESA thought it would be very educational for the students to hear from the team that worked with Schwarzenegger in passing the states landmark climate change legislation and the accompanying policies that put California in a position of global leadership, as well as the person who is responsible for implementing this as head of CARB.
The panel discussed prior legal battles California went through in its effort to regulate tailpipe emissions and GHG’s with the Bush Administration and how ultimately the Supreme Court ruled in favor of California’s right to regulate GHG’s under the Clean Air Act, expecting similar results to any legal battles with the Trump administration. The panel discussed how California being the 5th largest economy in the world has impacted markets, and used the auto industry as an example, stating how 10 years ago they weren’t making electric cars and now every single major manufacturer has at least one in production. The panel discussion ended by reinforcing the impact each student could have, from writing their legislator, to voting for pro environment candidates, to pushing USC to be more eco friendly, to simple things each person could do to reduce their carbon footprint.