An intergenerational group of climate advocates, policymakers, parents and grandparents called on Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema Sept. 10 to invest in bold climate policies through support of the federal Build Back Better Agenda.
In a press conference hosted by the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans Moms Clean Air Force through the Climate Action Campaign, Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita, among others, urged the state’s senators to address extreme weather events for the benefit of future generations.
“As grandparents, we will not sit quietly as our grandchildren face the serious threats of climate change,” said Dora Vasquez, executive director of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans.
“With the pandemic raging and the climate producing more extreme weather every year, we need a plan to tackle the climate crisis and to put people back to work at the same time.”
The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans also presented a letter it sent to Congress on Grandparents Day, Sept. 12, demanding climate action, including implementing tax credits for clean energy, investing in electric vehicles, engaging in wildfire prevention, and supporting small businesses.
The U.S. House of Representatives is drafting a $3.5 trillion bill as part of the Build Back Better Agenda, the Biden administration’s economic recovery plan that includes job creation, tax cuts, and funding for clean energy initiatives.
The House is looking to use reconciliation, a process that only requires a simple majority, to push the bill through legislation. The Senate already passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Aug. 11.
Will Humble, the executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, and the state’s former top health official, said he thinks the bill’s best chance at passage is through reconciliation.
“Everything’s in the next 60 days, so if it doesn’t happen with this reconciliation bill, then I’m super not optimistic,” Humble said.
Sinema has said she will not support a budget reconciliation bill with a $3.5 trillion price tag. Republicans in Congress have called the bill a reckless tax and spending spree.
“It’s about having leadership at the top, having our federal government, our federal representatives, the folks in the Senate, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Sinema, step up to this intergenerational climate crisis,” Humble said.
Dalessandro said Sinema and Kelly know how important climate issues are to the state of Arizona, given the recent wildfires, high temperatures and flooding.
“I am up often quoted as saying that climate change is here and Arizona is on the front burner,” Dalessandro said.
Katherine Cohen, community director of the Arizona Youth Climate Coalition, said that despite being just 17 years old, she has already seen wildfire smoke and lack of sustainable water supply cause significant issues in the Valley.
“We’ve all felt the effects of climate change to varying degrees. We need clean energy and environmental infrastructure in order to survive,” Cohen said.
Although Vasquez wants to see the fine print of the bill when it is finished being written, she still thinks it is important to convince senators and legislators to support it.
Vasquez wants officials to see “how urgent it is that this passes now, because we may not ever have a chance again,” she said. “And I want to see these changes for my grandchildren.”