Shortly after President Obama’s second inauguration last month, the President approached Representative Henry Waxman during a luncheon in Statuary Hall, where the House of Representatives met until 1860. Waxman, a ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee told the President, “I want to thank you for mentioning climate change in your inaugural address.”
“I didn’t just mention it, I talked about it,” the President responded. To which Waxman responded, “Now that you’ve talked about it, let’s do something about it.”
Waxman told the story Wednesday night during his first public address in the South Bay since his reelection last November, when his former Westside district was redrawn to include the Beach Cities, Palos Verdes and portions of Torrance.
His talk was hosted by the South Bay Democratic clubs at the Hermosa Beach Community Center.
Waxman said the most important issues to him are climate change, Obama care and avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”
“Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island and I have proposed a bicameral task force to develop a sustainable environmental policy. Tomorrow, we will send out 200 letters to business, industry and environmental leaders asking for their recommendation on what government agencies can do.”
Waxman said he is not hopeful new climate legislation can be passed, but that pollution can be reduced if the administration uses the power it already has.
“The environmental protection agency should set standards for old power plants, not just new power plants, to reduce emissions. The Department of Energy and can order more efficient standards so we use less electricity and won’t need to build new power plants.”
He described the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as a “mistake.”
“It uses too much energy to bring the fuel down the pipeline from Canada to Texas and this particular type of oil is dirty,’ he said.
In response to a question from Manhattan Beach resident Gerry O’Connor about Redondo Beach Measure A, Waxman said he is sympathetic to the movement to have the AES power plant shut down, but would not take a position on the ballot measure because it is a local zoning issue best left up to local voters . Measure A will appear on Redondo’s March ballot. If approved it would block AES’s plan to replace its existing power plant with a smaller plant.
Next week, Waxman said, he will propose House hearings on climate change, with testimony from scientists.
“We’ll see if the Republicans will block the hearings, the way they have the past two years,” he said.
“When future generations look back, they will ask what we did about climate change,” he added.
Waxman also took a jab at House Republicans for “30 attempts, all failures, to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act — like we had nothing better to do.”
He praised California for taking the national lead on the health care plan in setting up an insurance market place.
He said Congress avoided the fiscal cliff by “kicking [the debt ceiling vote] down the road three months because I don’t think any reasonable group will want to cause harm to the economy, which will be the result if we don’t resolve our differences.”
“I’m not saying we can’t make a lot of cuts to our defense budget, but arbitrary cuts, without regard to what should be in and should be out is nonsensical. On the domestic side, cuts to the National Institute for Health, education and nutrition programs would do a great deal of harm.
“The cuts were designed to be so stupid that responsible adults would avoid them. We’re waiting for responsible adults to adopt a policy that will avoid them. I’m optimistic because I don’t think the Republicans want their party to be discredited. They realized [in December] if we went over the fiscal cliff they would be held responsible.”