Vice President Kamala Harris (pictured last month in South Carolina) said cooperation is the key to combatting climate challenges facing the United States, particularly when it comes to water policy. Photo by Sean Rayford/UPI | License Photo
March 6 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris shared her optimism about the fight against climate change during an event in the Denver metro area on Monday.
Harris spoke at the Arvada Center in Arvada, Colo. She was joined on stage by U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen and professional rock climber Sasha DiGiulian.
Pettersen said Colorado knows well the harmful influence climate change has had on extreme weather events. The vice president urged that there is an opportunity to make progress to address the issue.
"I remain optimistic because of what we've been able to do -- that I really do believe is transformational," Harris said. "When you combine what we have accomplished with the Inflation Reduction Act, along with the CHIPS [and Science] Act that will put about $1 trillion on the street on the issue of climate. What an impact we can have to really fast forward what is long overdue on a number of issues."
Acknowledging the outdoors are her playground, DiGiulian wondered aloud about what keeps Harris positive in the face of a topic that often is angst-filled. Harris cheered on innovations like the rise of electric vehicles and buses that give her the belief that more positive change is coming.
Petterson shared more of a feeling of concern, saying she is "terrified" for her young son's future as Colorado often falls under alerts warning it is unsafe for children to go outside because of air pollution.
"We need to talk about what is happening now," she said. "We can rise in this moment and step up to save our planet."
The vice president used the occasion to discuss the intersection between environmental conditions and other issues, such as health. She emphasized maternal health in particular, saying Black women are three times more likely to die from issues relating to childbirth than the average White woman. Indigenous women and women living in rural areas are more than 1.5 times more likely to die.
And yet, the vice president said, governmental policy changes can have a positive effect on the challenges presented by climate change. She cited the production of electric buses, saying it can help reduce environmental challenges, which in turn can have positive effects on related health issues.
The vice president also touted the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan -- part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law -- that puts billions of dollars towards the removal of all lead water service pipes and remediation for properties with lead-based paints.
Along with the legislation that has been passed, Harris said it is also important to "elevate" topics such as climate change and the health of women, minorities and vulnerable communities so the problems stay in the forefront of public consciousness.
Water policy is one of the topics Harris said she is most passionate about, adding that it is time to reconsider the current approach to recovering from floods by considering capturing some of the floodwaters.
Though Harris did not specify about methods to capturing floodwaters, in August she announced increased funding for flood mitigation grants. The Biden-Harris administration increased the funding for FEMA "resilience" programs in 2021 and 2022.
"We need to prioritize recycling, storage, flood capture," she said. "Think about how we will build not only for this moment, but critically evaluate what we've been doing."
"It really does highlight the interconnection and interdependence of us all regardless of geographical borders," Harris continued. "What's happening in Colorado affects the region. We need to embrace that point in policy -- understand the importance of collaboration."
Harris said the idea of conservation and preservation were introduced to her at a young age while she was growing up in San Francisco. One of the causes she recalled from her childhood was the Save the Bay campaign that started in 1965.
The Biden-Harris administration has kept the conversation about climate action at the center of almost every accomplishment. During the president's tour of major infrastructure projects in the northeast, he promoted the effects those projects will have on reducing emissions.
The conversation also remains central to the administration's global platform. Harris noted that climate change routinely is addressed in the discussions she has with leaders around the world.
"We all know some of the most precious things are fragile and that's why we pay special attention to take care of them," Harris closed with. "Let's continue to do that."