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At First House Climate Hearing in Nearly a Decade, 16-Year-Old Activist Tells Congress Time of Inaction Is Over

"Policymakers have for far too long put the interests of fossil fuel corporations and other carbon-emitting industries over the health and prosperity of the people, the wildlife, and this planet."

"The lives of my generation have been disregarded for far too long," said 16-year-old activist Nadia Nazar. (Photo: Ryan Maue/Twitter)

After President Donald Trump refused to even utter the word "climate" in his State of the Union address—instead opting to tout his administration's efforts to make the global crisis worse—two key House committees on Wednesday held their first climate hearings in nearly a decade to highlight the devastation runaway global warming is already causing throughout the U.S. and demand urgent action.

"You should put the interests of your future generations first—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because many of us have the right to vote in just a couple of years."
—Nadia Nazar, Zero Hour Movement

In testimony during the House Natural Resource Committee's first climate hearing in eight years, 16-year-old Nadia Nazar—co-founder of the Zero Hour Movement and co-organizer of the Youth Climate March—declared that "policymakers have for far too long put the interests of fossil fuel corporations and other carbon-emitting industries over the health and prosperity of the people, the wildlife, and this planet."

"The lives of my generation have been disregarded for far too long," Nazar continued. "You should put the interests of your future generations first—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because many of us have the right to vote in just a couple of years. We care about clean air and clean water, and we'll be voting for those who want to address climate change head on."

At the start of Wednesday's hearing—which featured testimony from state lawmakers, scientists, and grassroots activists—Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) entered into the congressional record a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing that there were 14 weather and climate disasters that caused over over $1 billion in damages in 2018.

"The massive and unprecedented storms, heat waves, fires, and droughts we are experiencing are not normal. They are being made worse by climate change, and if we don't take action now, we're only at the beginning of this process."
—Rep. Raul Grijalva

Grijalva also pointed to a new NASA report out Wednesday, which found that the last five years have been the hottest on record.

"We are seeing the impacts now, and they will grow stronger unless we change course," Grijalva said. "Our communities are paying the price for years of inaction on this issue. The massive and unprecedented storms, heat waves, fires, and droughts we are experiencing are not normal. They are being made worse by climate change, and if we don't take action now, we're only at the beginning of this process."

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At the same time as the House Natural Resources Committee was holding its hearing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee was simultaneously holding its first climate hearing in six years, titled "Time for Action: Addressing the Environmental and Economic Effects of Climate Change."

"Today's hearing on climate change is long overdue," Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in his opening remarks. "Experts have warned us for a long time that climate change would lead to more intense storms, extended droughts, longer wildfire seasons that burn hotter and cover larger areas, greater seasonal temperature extremes, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and rising sea level. Their predictions have proven true."

"The science on climate change is indisputable," Pallone continued. "We are not going to waste any time debating the scientific facts. Instead, we must focus on solutions to the problem. We must act now to avoid the most catastrophic consequences associated with climate change."

The congressional hearings came just hours after the Sunrise Movement and other green groups kicked off their week of action aimed at pressuring lawmakers—including Pallone—to not merely acknowledge the dire need for climate action, but to embrace transformative policies like a Green New Deal.

"To take action on climate change at the scale of the crisis, we need a Green New Deal," declared 350.org executive director May Boeve. "It's time for all progressive lawmakers to take real climate action and support a massive federal investment to bring health, safety, and justice to people and the planet."

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