Jerry Brown: 'Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important'

Jerry Brown: 'Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important'

Jerry Brown, the former Democratic governor of California, didn’t mince words Tuesday when he criticized the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back the state's tailpipe emission standards.

Speaking in front of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, Brown argued recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that would remove California’s right from setting heightened vehicle emissions standards are equal to climate denial.

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“Despite what deniers are saying, the seas are rising, ice caps melting, diseases spreading and fires burning,” said Brown, who specifically referred to three of California’s ongoing wildfires.

“This is not just another legislative game here. This is life-and-death stuff. And climate change is related to the fires in California. California is burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that could protect us all.”

Brown addressed the committee a month after the Trump administration announced it would be revoking California’s Clean Air Act waiver that allowed it to establish its own air pollution standards. The administration argues the waiver hindered the federal government from establishing unified air pollution standards, a key issue for the auto industry. 

The administration is expected to announce soon that it's rolling back Obama-era standards for tailpipe emissions, something California is adamantly against.

Democratic lawmakers on the committee called the two-part emissions rule irresponsible.

“These rollbacks for fuel efficiency requirements are quite simply brazen and irresponsible,” subcommittee Chairman Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog to weigh probe of Trump advancements on Pebble Mine | Interior finalizes public lands HQ move out West over congressional objections | EPA to issue methane rollback: report Watchdog to weigh probe of Trump administration advancements of Pebble Mine How to combat substance abuse during COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif) said.

“The Trump administration is gambling with people’s lives here.”

Brown in particular pointed fingers at a number of automakers, who on Monday sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit California brought against the EPA.

“In the lawsuit you have [General Motors] against us, but we have 22 states on our side,” Brown said of the states that signed with California on the September suit challenging the Trump rule. 

“Our standards that you don’t like, Republicans, it covers 42 percent of America. We’ve seen this move before”

Republicans showed their distaste for the hearing early in the morning by attempting to prematurely end the proceedings.

Arguing the hearing was poorly scheduled to coincide with ongoing impeachment depositions, Republicans called for a quorum vote to end the proceedings when only a handful of Democratic members were in attendance. After delaying the vote by nearly 20 minutes, Democrats narrowly gathered enough votes to continue the hearing, 7 to 6.

After the scuffle, Brown said climate change should take precedence over impeachment.

“There are a lot of important things going on. Impeachment is important, but the climate is even more important. The most important threat facing the world and America is what’s happening to our climate, our weather, our wellbeing,” he said.