Gas prices are soaring to record levels, and in California, residents are being hit the hardest. This is especially true in San Bernardino county, where in early April, the average price of a gallon of gas was the highest in the country at around $5.83.
The oil and gas industry are blaming the Russian and Ukrainian conflict, increased transit costs, and inflation as the driving factors. In turn, the Biden Administration has been pushing the oil industry to drill on the 9,000 permits available domestically, but there is little evidence to suggest that will push prices down.
“The rate at which gas prices have soared due to our reliance on fossil fuels is another sign we need to be moving quickly toward renewable energy. If we make the switch to a domestic green energy system, prices will be insulated from what’s happening abroad,” said Derek Marshall, the leading Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s new 23rd district, which includes San Bernardino.
“Throughout California, we have seen the disastrous effects of climate change. Droughts, wildfires, and water shortages have become terrifyingly common throughout our state and the rest of the country,” Marshall explained. “The district’s incumbent has voted against nearly every piece of pro-environmental legislation. We can’t let politicians who get a check from the oil industry threaten the future of our planet. “
A green economy would not only save our planet, but bring money-saving possibilities, claimed Marshall. As the United States battles record-high inflation, housing costs, and possible entry into a recession, cost savings could be a welcome reprieve in a time of massive spending by the average American.
Bring on the Jobs
More than a third of Californians are living in or near the poverty line. By putting policies in place that incentivise a green economy, a boom of new good-paying jobs could help reduce poverty in California and across the country, according to Marshall.
“California’s new 23rd District is at the forefront of the climate crisis. Investing in public solar and wind projects will not only help protect our communities from further environmental damage, but will bring good high-paying jobs to every corner of our district and our country,” he explained.
These jobs would span many industries, including the production of mass transit, retrofitting buildings, agriculture, and even healthcare. New, higher-paying jobs are a first step on the long road to repairing an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, big oil greed, and crushing student loan debt.
As stated in the Guardian, up to $321 billion could be saved if the United States switched to clean energy sources. Detractors have said that the Green New Deal would be far too costly for the American people, but all signs point to the opposite being closer to the truth. A switch to solar or wind energy helps everyday Americans, and they would likely see significant savings on their monthly energy bills almost immediately. This cost savings means the average American consumer would have more money to spend. According to the Guardian article, a $321 billion savings translates to a yearly savings of $2,500 a year per household.
Those Green Tourism Dollars
The coronavirus pandemic did a number on the American tourism industry — one that is just now starting to recover. Marshall wants to put a concentrated effort into bolstering the appeal of National Parks and other public green spaces to promote climate-friendly recreation and tourism renewal. He refers to the National Parks and public areas in California as a perfect example of the power of a green economy focus.
“Our National Parks and Forests and other public lands are the pride of California’s 23rd District, anchoring us with a sense of place while also providing a major tourism draw that brings major tourism dollars,” Marshall explained.
Marshall feels these spaces must be maintained and preserved for future generations. National Parks have forested areas that protect water sources and stabilize surrounding land, preventing damaging landslides and erosion. Supporting and protecting these National Parks and other green spaces is not only good for the environment, but the tourism industry as well.
“The 2020 Great American Outdoors Act is a good start,” said Marshall, “but we need to continue to keep the pressure on to clear the maintenance backlog in our nationally-administered areas, which both preserve our unique ecology as well as provide good infrastructure, administrative, and Civilian Conservation Corps-style STEM jobs for local folks.”
Cars are expensive. Operating cars is costly and causes an over-reliance on fossil fuels. However, much of the United States has under-invested in mass transit, and their transit systems fall woefully short.
Congress passed the Infrastructure and Jobs Act in November of 2021 to try to remedy this problem. The bill will fund more than 70 infrastructure projects across Southern California.
“Why would Rep. Obernolate vote nay on a bill that would help bring jobs and update our communities’ infrastructure?” said Marshall. “Instead of voting for what’s best for the district, he plays the part of a Republican who falls in line.”
Improving the mass transit system across the country would benefit most people, the environment, and the economy.
“Building infrastructure — from new buses and train cars to tracks and stations — will bring back the sorts of jobs that have been disappearing for years,” he said. “The resulting mass transit networks will allow for more affordable and eco-friendly travel for both business and leisure.”
Many local and state governments have made mass transit infrastructure a priority, with goals to reduce the reliance on cars and fossil fuels in the near future.
Cooling the High Valley with Building Improvements
Soaring temperatures due to climate change and increased droughts are driving up the costs of cooling homes and businesses in the Valley. By expanding federal funds and grant opportunities for both individuals and businesses, buildings and homes can be upgraded to be more eco-friendly. The bonus comes with job creation for people to carry out these upgrades.
“This win-win plan provides jobs for the construction industry and massive long-term financial savings for building owners, as well as an overall reduction in fossil fuel use.” said Marshall.
The United States is clearly struggling under the weight of post-pandemic uncertainty, rising costs, along with the wildfires, droughts, and storms that come with climate change. Congressional Candidate Marshall, along with other Progressive candidates, hopes to change this tide and bring about some needed climate and economic improvement to the country.