(CNSNews.com) – During a conversation on climate on Monday in Colorado, Vice President Kamala Harris said that as a child, she mistook conservationists with conservatives, which she thought were “bad.”
The vice president was asked how her life shaped her work on climate and the environment.
“Well, starting, I guess, from birth. I am — I was born in Oakland, California, and so — which is in the heart of the Bay Area in California, and the Bay Area takes great pride in being one of the birthplaces of the environmental movement,” she said.
“I grew up learning about — we called it ecology at the time, and so, some of us who were born around that time know what I’m saying, and — and we talked about it in the context of conservation,” Harris said.
“In fact, I’m going to share with you a very simple story, which is that I went home one day, and I said, “Well, what’s — why are conservatives bad, Mommy?” Because I thought we were supposed to conserve things. I couldn’t reconcile it. Now I can,” she said, laughing.
“But, you know, it was the movement, like it was — it — there was a thing called — ‘Save the Bay’ was a movement. We — we talked about water. We talked about air, and so, I just grew up with it, and I also grew up as a child of parents who were active in the Civil Rights Movement, and, of course, that being a bunch of folks who were marching and shouting for equality and justice,” Harris said.
“And I guess the combination of all of that, at the earliest stages of my life, caused me to understand the importance of — of these issues, both in terms of clean air, clean water, cherishing this beautiful planet that we have, but also in terms of principles of equity, understanding the inequities, which, you know, we all understand the difference between equality and equity. Right?” she said.
“Equality suggests, ‘Well, let’s give everyone an equal share. Everyone…’ Right? But equity understands not everyone starts out at the same base, and so we need to take that into account and — and — and have policies that — that are motivated by equitable outcomes,” the vice president said.
She said that as the district attorney of San Francisco in 2003, she created one of the first environmental justice units of any DA’s office in the country, “in large part because at the time, and still, there is a community in San Francisco called Bayview-Hunters Point, which at the time had a annual household income of about $15,000.”
And not surprising, there — that community was also the — the recipient of a lot of dumping and — and just very bad behaviors, a lot from people outside of the community, and there were high rates of asthma and health outcomes, and so I took that on.
I took it on from the perspective of saying that not only do we want to encourage good behaviors, but there needs to be a consequence for bad behaviors, and as Attorney General of California, I took that same approach when it came to, for example, a big oil spill in Santa Barbara that many of you probably remember and read about where there needs to be also accountability and consequence, as well as what we can do to encourage and create incentives for good behaviors.
And then fast forward, in the United States Senate, some of the work that I did with folks like Michael Bennet, at the time, and — and — and what you all are doing here was around understanding how federal policy around extreme weather and extreme climate had taken into account, historically, tornadoes and hurricanes, but, hey, let’s also think about how we’re dealing with drought and wildfires, and bringing to bear a perspective from Western states around how it impacts this region of the country a bit differently from other regions of the country.
So that’s kind of, in a nutshell, the trajectory, and then, of course, now the work that we are doing around pushing for, now implementing, these bills and what it can mean, and also what it means globally.
You know, talking with — I’ve now met with 100 world leaders — over 100. Right? Presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings, and almost every time I have interactions and conversations with them, this topic comes up because, of course, this is a global issue, and we hope that we can use the recent accomplishments — those three bills and this amount of money and infusion — to really create and accelerate models of how we can grow a clean energy economy, not only for the United States, but globally.
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