Val­ley’s Nunes, Costa, Cox col­lide on cli­mate change

Each has a starkly dif­fer­ent ap­proach to curb the threat

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY RORY AP­PLE­TON rap­ple­[email protected]­nobee.com

Just out­side Fresno’s south­east­ern bor­der lies a road in which the ur­ban rolls into the ru­ral in a jux­ta­po­si­tion com­mon in Cal­i­for­nia’s cen­tral San Joaquin Val­ley.

A truck­ing yard sits a few dozen feet from res­i­den­tial homes. Chil­dren play at an ele­men­tary school flanked by farm­land – tan­gled, empty vines and trees sprin­kled with white blos­soms. The snow-capped Sierra Ne­vada are un­usu­ally vis­i­ble af­ter Fe­bru­ary storms pushed out Val­ley smog.

This is Lone Star, an un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­nity found on Fowler Av­enue be­tween Jensen and North av­enues and a phys­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges of the area.

The air that typ­i­cally ob­scures the moun­tains is of­ten judged as the most toxic in the coun­try and is blamed for cut­ting the life ex­pectancy of the chil­dren at Lone Star Ele­men­tary and hun­dreds of thou­sands of their neigh­bors. The truck­ing yard and farms are a prime tar­get for en­vi­ron­men­tal re­form, with agri­cul­ture find­ing it­self in a difficult spot as costly reg­u­la­tions and bru­tal mar­ket fac­tors col­lide.

These is­sues are not at all spe­cific to Lone Star, but the com­mu­nity is unique in that it also serves as the ex­act di­vid­ing line for the fed­eral lead­er­ship par­tially tasked with fix­ing them.

Three Cal­i­for­nia con­gres­sional districts – the 16th, the 21st and the 22nd – meet at Lone Star. More than 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple are gov­erned based on their home’s re­la­tion to this area, and their lead­ers have starkly dif­fer­ent plans to curb cli­mate change.

If some­one were to stand on the north­east side of Fowler near Jensen, for ex­am­ple, cli­mate change barely ex­ists. Here in the 22nd, long held by Tu­lare Repub­li­can Devin Nunes, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­spir­a­cies and

ex­pen­sive job-killing leg­is­la­tion – many of which are as­so­ci­ated with cli­mate change – are to be rooted out.

That same per­son could throw a rock to­ward North and into the 21st, where new­comer TJ Cox, DFresno, is not far from sup­port­ing the Green New Deal – a pro­gres­sive res­o­lu­tion that seeks to zero out green­house gas emis­sions and one that has dom­i­nated the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on cli­mate change. Busi­nesses, cities, farms and in­di­vid­ual ci­ti­zens can and must ad­just to green en­ergy stan­dards, Cox con­tends, and many al­ready have.

And to the north­east, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, takes a fa­mil­iar po­si­tion in be­tween his two neigh­bors, although he is de­cid­edly closer to Cox on most of the is­sues. Cli­mate change is real, he said, but Bay Area pol­lu­tants and cycli­cal changes also play a role. The Green New Deal sets pos­i­tive, as­pi­ra­tional goals, Costa said, but it’s lack­ing in de­tail and too puni­tive to­ward ag.

Lead­er­ship from the Val­ley’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion is only one slice of per­haps the area’s most com­plex is­sue, the en­vi­ron­ment, but farm­ers, sci­en­tists and in­ter­ested ci­ti­zens have one eye fixed on how lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives help shape the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on cli­mate change.

WELL-STUD­IED PROB­LEMS

The Fresno area’s strug­gle with pol­lu­tion, clean wa­ter and cli­mate change is well doc­u­mented.

A Novem­ber study from the En­ergy Pol­icy In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Chicago noted the Fresno met­ro­pol­i­tan area had the worst con­cen­tra­tion of par­tic­u­late pol­lu­tion in the coun­try. The amount of soot in the air was roughly twice what the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion sets as a max­i­mum guide­line, and thus res­i­dents could see up to a year of their lives re­duced by re­lated health is­sues.

Gov. Gavin New­som chose Riverview Ele­men­tary near Par­lier – lit­tle more than 10 miles from Lone Star – as the site to sign his first bill, one that al­lo­cated $131.3 mil­lion in part for emer­gency re­lief to com­mu­ni­ties with­out safe drink­ing wa­ter. The stu­dents at Riverview have been forced to drink bot­tled wa­ter for months. Some must go to a friend’s house in or­der to bathe safely.

More than 100,000 Val­ley res­i­dents do not have clean drink­ing wa­ter, a Fe­bru­ary 2018 UC Davis study con­cluded.

On the cli­mate change front, a re­cent study from the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence con­cluded that if cur­rent high emis­sion lev­els con­tin­ued, Fresno’s av­er­age winter temperatur­e will be about 7 de­grees higher in 80 years. It will also be nearly 56 per­cent drier.

Cli­mate change has deeply af­fected agri­cul­ture – the Val­ley’s iden­ti­fy­ing in­dus­try – and will con­tinue to do so.

A Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia study found the Sierra snow­pack, a pri­mary source of wa­ter in the Val­ley, could re­duce by as much as 65 per­cent by 2070-2090. Global crop pro­duc­tion will need to dou­ble by 2050 to meet grow­ing pop­u­la­tion needs, but the av­er­age yields of many Val­ley crops such as ta­ble grapes are ex­pected to de­crease in that same amount of time due to shift­ing cli­mate.

The San Joaquin Val­ley Air Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Dis­trict raises and spends about $400 mil­lion an­nu­ally to study and com­bat pol­lu­tion prob­lems, said Samir Sheikh, its ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor and air pol­lu­tion con­trol of­fi­cer.

Sheikh ex­plained that the Val­ley is ba­si­cally a bowl that traps in emis­sions, be they from neigh­bor­ing re­gions or pro­duced lo­cally. Trucks flood Val­ley roads due to its po­si­tion be­tween ma­jor ship­ping hubs. Agri­cul­ture, in­dus­try and a fleet of ag­ing ve­hi­cles play a part.

“We have to work harder to re­duce pol­lu­tion than other re­gions,” Sheikh said. “We re­lease much less pol­lu­tion, but there’s no ocean breeze or other me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions to help.”

Cal­i­for­nia has also ex­pe­ri­ence a ma­jor uptick in wild­fires, which com­pound air qual­ity is­sues. De­spite this, Sheikh said, the dis­trict has made con­tin­ual progress, and 2018 saw the re­gion’s low­est ozone pol­lu­tion lev­els on record.

But the task is still daunt­ing.

The dis­trict has had some suc­cess in low­er­ing emis­sions through in­cen­tive pro­grams – ev­ery­thing from large grants for busi­nesses to of­fer­ing free re­pairs for cars that can’t pass smog checks – but it has strug­gled to reach even decades-old fed­eral air qual­ity stan­dards for ozone and fine-par­tic­u­late mat­ter.

Af­ter failing to reach four-year health stan­dards set by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the dis­trict has a new fiveyear plan that calls for $1 bil­lion in rais­ing and spend­ing per year for five years – more than twice its cur­rent budget.

Sheikh said the dis­trict will con­tinue to work with fed­eral lead­ers for help in this area, but he be­lieves most of the fund­ing should come from the state. Air pol­lu­tion tends to hit dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties harder, and two-thirds of Cal­i­for­nia’s dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties are within the Val­ley.

GROUND ZERO: ARVIN

Per­haps no com­mu­nity bears the weight of the re­gion’s en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues as much as Arvin, a town of about 20,000 in south­east­ern Kern County. Mayor Jose Gur­rola said he isn’t aware of any em­pir­i­cal stud­ies fo­cused solely on Arvin’s air or wa­ter qual­ity, but he knows what’s at stake.

Pol­lu­tion cre­ated lo­cally and mov­ing through from other re­gions sits heav­i­est in Arvin due to its deep po­si­tion in the at­mo­spheric bowl that is the cen­tral San Joaquin Val­ley.

“If I asked a class to raise their hands if they have asthma, more than half the kids would raise their hands,” said Gur­rola, who is also a sub­sti­tute teacher. “A lot of stu­dents miss school due to asthma and re­s­pi­ra­tory prob­lems.”

Arvin’s wa­ter is also tainted by un­healthy lev­els of ar­senic and 1,2,3Trichloro­propane, a chem­i­cal al­legedly spread through fu­mi­gants made by the Shell Chem­i­cal Co. and Dow Chem­i­cal Co.

“Ev­ery month, my con­stituents re­ceive a no­tice of their ar­senic level at­tached to their wa­ter bills,” Gur­rola said. “Re­search has shown we should not be drink­ing this wa­ter, bathing in it or cook­ing with it, but we can’t af­ford bot­tled wa­ter.”

Gur­rola said his con­stituents think their wa­ter is mak­ing them sick. It’s un­clear just how long the res­i­dents have been ex­posed, since the ar­senic lev­els have only been deemed un­healthy since the fed­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency ad­justed its stan­dards in the early 2000s.

The mayor said he be­lieves the air and wa­ter have con­trib­uted to high rates of birth de­fects, cancer and di­a­betes in Arvin and the sur­round­ing Kern County.

The city has re­ceived help from state and fed­eral grant that have paid for new trees and fresh wells, but it may not be enough. Gur­rola said. If the wells don’t work out, Arvin will need to build and main­tain a $10-13 mil­lion wa­ter treat­ment plant.

Ac­cord­ing to Gur­rola, fund­ing has been a bit hard to come by. At 20,000 res­i­dents, Arvin is too large to qual­ify as an agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity wor­thy of grants from the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture. It is too small to re­ceive some grants from the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

Gur­rola was grate­ful to Cox, his con­gress­man, for ac­tively lis­ten­ing to these con­cerns and work­ing to change these grant re­quire­ments and se­cure new av­enues of fund­ing for Arvin.

“It’s good that (Cox) is an en­gi­neer,” Gur­rola said. “He un­der­stands us and the sci­ence of cli­mate change.”

He also praised Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, state Sen. Melissa Hur­tado and Costa, who pre­vi­ously rep­re­sented Arvin and helped se­cure fund­ing to tran­si­tion its cop cars into hy­brid ve­hi­cles. The city will soon take that a step fur­ther, adding elec­tric city buses to its fleet.

Gur­rola, who serves in a non­par­ti­san of­fice but is a Demo­crat, said the city’s pre­vi­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tives – state Sen. Andy Vi­dak and Rep. David Val­adao, both Repub­li­cans – of­fered some as­sis­tance but typ­i­cally op­posed en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ter­ests due to party loy­al­ties.

“Peo­ple talk about the Blue Wave and im­mi­gra­tion be­ing a No. 1 is­sue among my con­stituents, but it’s not,” Gur­rola said. “It’s not. It’s wa­ter, air and jobs. When I knocked on doors for my own cam­paign, those were the ques­tions peo­ple had. And it showed in the polls.”

COX CHARTS HIS PATH

TJ Cox is the Val­ley’s new­est mem­ber of Congress, but the fresh­man seems to have al­ready po­si­tioned him­self to af­fect change for the re­gion’s air and wa­ter qual­ity prob­lems.

As a mem­ber of the House ag com­mit­tee and the new chair­man of the House Nat­u­ral Re­sources sub­com­mit­tee on over­sight, Cox said he will first work to en­sure govern­ment agen­cies no longer sup­press cli­mate change data.

With that done, the govern­ment can then work on what Cox be­lieves are the two pri­mary ways in which the Val­ley will slice into its own air and wa­ter prob­lems: In­no­va­tion ef­forts at lo­cal col­leges, and in­creased in­cen­tive pro­grams to bring those in­no­va­tions to farms, busi­nesses and homes.

“The great­est chal­lenges bring the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Cox said. “I don’t ac­cept the no­tion that sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies are anti-busi­ness.”

The Fresno con­gress­man is an ar­dent sup­porter of elec­tric ve­hi­cles, telling The Bee’s ed­i­to­rial board dur­ing his cam­paign that he be­lieved the Val­ley could cre­ate thou­sands of jobs – be­yond the ob­vi­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits – by em­brac­ing that in­dus­try.

Recharg­ing sta­tions would have to be built and main­tained all along the well-trav­eled routes from Los An­ge­les to San Fran­cisco.

Cox, an en­gi­neer by trade who also runs a va­ri­ety of busi­nesses in­clud­ing a nut pro­cess­ing cen­ter, said most of the farm­ers he knows have al­ready made great strides, con­vert­ing to so­lar en­ergy or us­ing dairy di­gesters to con­vert meth­ane into re­new­able en­ergy. They are trad­ing in their two-stroke diesel trac­tors for elec­tric mod­els.

Cox ref­er­enced a re­cent study con­ducted by UC Davis in which dairy cows were fed a seaweed sup­ple­ment, which cut down the an­i­mals’ pro­duc­tion of green­house gases. If ev­ery dairy cow in the world was fed in this way, Cox said, it would re­duce car­bon emis­sions by two gi­ga­tons each year – roughly the amount of pol­lu­tion put out by the en­tire United States in the same pe­riod.

GREEN NEW DEAL

In­no­va­tion and in­cen­tive pro­grams are not new ideas for Val­ley politi­cians, but Cox could soon throw his name be­hind some­thing a bit more rad­i­cal for the area: The un­abashedly lib­eral Green New Deal.

“I am not sup­port­ing it just yet,” Cox said. “I’m still wait­ing for the par­tic­u­lars of the leg­is­la­tion to come.”

The Green New Deal, like the New Deal be­fore it, is a frame­work that is ex­pected to have waves of leg­is­la­tion added onto it over time.

Cox does, how­ever, sup­port the pri­mary ten­ants of the Green New Deal.

“The com­mu­nity, eco­nomic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits (of the Green New Deal) – we can have that all,” Cox said. “I’m talk­ing about clean, re­new­able tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment; qual­ity, affordable ed­u­ca­tion and health care for all and post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion for all. Ev­ery­one in Amer­ica knows we need to do this.”

The po­ten­tial hangup for Cox, he said, was mak­ing sure the bill was pos­i­tive on agri­cul­ture. He hopes to share the tech­no­log­i­cal strides by the in­dus­try with his fel­low mem­bers to en­sure any en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion is not too puni­tive.

“It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game,” he said. “We just need the tech­nol­ogy and the lead­er­ship to move for­ward.”

COSTA NOT AS EN­THU­SI­AS­TIC

Jim Costa was less sup­port­ive of the Green New Deal.

“The goals are as­pi­ra­tional, and that’s pos­i­tive,” Costa said. “But it’s very de­fi­cient in that it lacks the de­tail and does not seem to be very fo­cused on how you achieve so­lu­tions in the short and long term.”

Costa said he wor­ries the leg­is­la­tion will be too hard on agri­cul­ture, par­tic­u­larly af­ter a doc­u­ment from Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez’s of­fice ref­er­enced the dif­fi­culty in stop­ping “fart­ing cows.”

“Clearly the group of peo­ple who put that (doc­u­ment) to­gether have not spent much time if any out on a farm,” Costa said. “I’d love to have them spend the day with me. I could show them the dif­fi­cul­ties of ag.”

Costa and his sis­ter grow al­monds, while his cousin grows ta­ble grapes. The fam­ily pre­vi­ously ran a dairy, but that oper­a­tion was sold 35 years ago, Costa said.

Like Cox, Costa also praised the in­no­va­tion tak­ing place at lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties. He is a Fresno State grad­u­ate.

AG COM­MU­NITY’S PO­SI­TION

Costa’s read on the Green New Deal was mu­sic to the ears of lo­cal ag lead­ers, who also worry about the leg­is­la­tion’s pos­si­ble wrath.

Ryan Ja­cob­sen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said the cen­tral San Joaquin Val­ley is al­ready on the cut­ting edge of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly in­no­va­tions in agri­cul­ture. Any at­tempts to pile fed­eral reg­u­la­tions onto ex­ist­ing state re­quire­ments could spell doom, par­tic­u­larly for a dairy in­dus­try that has strug­gled with mar­ket un­cer­tain­ties due to sanc­tions on milk and cheese.

“The cost of pro­duc­tion out­weighs what they are be­ing paid,” Ja­cob­sen said. “A reg­u­la­tory pinch plus this mar­ket would be a death sen­tence.”

Roger Isom, CEO of the Western Agri­cul­tural Pro­ces­sors As­so­ci­a­tion, echoed Ja­cob­sen’s com­ments. In ad­di­tion to so­lar pan­els and hy­brid trac­tors, some farms are uti­liz­ing hy­brid or elec­tric nut pro­ces­sors and veg­etable de­hy­dra­tors.

The only thing hold­ing back the full im­ple­men­ta­tion of such tech­nol­ogy is cost, Isom said.

“That’s the only bot­tom line,” Isom said. “There isn’t any­one out here who doesn’t want a new trac­tor or to breathe clean air.”

There’s been progress, he added, but even many of the state’s most in­no­va­tive in­cen­tive pro­grams re­quire the farm­ers to foot half of the bill.

Isom said that be­cause much of Cal­i­for­nia’s pro­duce is bought and sold within global mar­kets, farm­ers do not have the

flex­i­bil­ity to pass the cost of tech­nol­ogy up­grades along to the con­sumer.

“Con­trac­tors who want to re­place a truck or con­struc­tion equip­ment can pass that cost on to the con­sumer,” Isom said. “But I can’t tell China you’re go­ing to pay more for my cot­ton; I want to go elec­tric, but you need to help me out.”

Isom praised Costa and Nunes for find­ing ways to chip away at the cost bur­den, be it tiny chunks of the coun­try’s farm bill or lo­cal case work.

COSTA’S NICHE

That type of work is Costa’s spe­cialty.

“With prob­lems as large as our air or clean drink­ing wa­ter, there’s never just one source of fund­ing,” Costa said. “We need a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach.”

Costa said he worked with New­som and leg­is­la­tors on the state’s re­cent at­tempt to tackle clean drink­ing wa­ter, not­ing that he also worked to add more clean drink­ing wa­ter fund­ing sources from the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture in the most re­cent farm bill.

These un­sung vic­to­ries per­haps lead some to crit­i­cize whether Costa is think­ing big enough. He is also one of the most con­ser­va­tive Democrats in Congress, and his cam­paigns are rou­tinely backed by the tra­di­tion­ally con­ser­va­tive agri­cul­ture and fos­sil fu­els in­dus­tries.

Costa at­tacked any no­tion that he has not done enough for the en­vi­ron­ment in his nearly 40 years of elected of­fice.

He said he’s sup­ported sen­si­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ments that in­clude bet­ter smog check poli­cies and en­forc­ing reg­u­la­tions within the Bay Area to keep pol­lu­tion from flow­ing into the Val­ley. He is work­ing now to fund clean drink­ing wa­ter ef­forts.

But above all, Costa noted that he se­cured the fund­ing to cre­ate the San Joaquin Val­ley Air Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Dis­trict. He has since worked to keep money flow­ing to the agency, he added.

“I have a long his­tory of ef­forts that are al­ways fo­cused on how we can achieve suc­cess,” Costa said. “It’s easy to sit on side­lines and be crit­i­cal, but you have to fig­ure out prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions that can achieve re­sults and be suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented.”

NUNES GETS LOW CON­SER­VA­TION RAT­ING

Devin Nunes did not re­spond to an interview re­quest for this story, but he has gen­er­ally op­posed most no­tions of cli­mate change and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism over the years.

The League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers gives Nunes a score of 3 per­cent based off of his al­most unan­i­mous dis­ap­proval of en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion.

He has rou­tinely slammed Cal­i­for­nia and the En­dan­gered Species Act, both of which he be­lieves have kept wa­ter from reach­ing farm­ers dur­ing the re­cent drought. He has even mocked “en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­trem­ists” through an un­likely po­lit­i­cal medium: cup­cakes.

He also sup­ports ex­panded off­shore en­ergy drilling.

Re­cently, Nunes took the added step of de­vot­ing an episode of his weekly pod­cast to specif­i­cally tear down the Green New Deal.

Although he has pre­vi­ously ripped Oca­sioCortez as a mem­ber of a “strange, so­cial­ist, fas­cist, com­mu­nist ca­bal,” the 16-minute pod­cast fo­cuses mainly on what Nunes char­ac­ter­izes as the plan’s lack of fi­nan­cial fea­si­bil­ity with no ob­vi­ous per­sonal at­tacks.

Nunes in­ter­viewed Dan Kish, a se­nior vice pres­i­dent at the In­sti­tute for En­ergy Re­search, whom he called “one of the na­tion’s real ex­perts on en­ergy and fos­sil fu­els.”

This in­sti­tute was founded by Robert L. Bradley Jr., who spent 16 years as a pol­icy leader at En­ron, and Charles Koch, of Koch broth­ers fame. It has rou­tinely de­nied cli­mate change and re­ceived do­na­tions from fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies and lob­by­ing groups.

In the pod­cast, Nunes notes cor­rectly that only about 11 per­cent of the en­ergy con­sumed in the United States comes from re­new­able sources, de­spite bil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral in­vest­ment.

He said that the govern­ment would have to en­ter ev­ery home to com­pletely re­wire and in­su­late it for re­new­able en­ergy use. Peo­ple would have to carry ex­pen­sive re­serve bat­ter­ies in case their so­lar pan­els do not work, and there would be pe­ri­ods of time in which power is sim­ply not avail­able in your home.

Air travel would no longer be pos­si­ble un­der the Green New Deal, Nunes added.

The pod­cast does not dis­cuss cli­mate change.

COSTA A BIG­GER RISK THAN NUNES?

Kevin Hall is among Fresno’s most ac­tive Twit­terati, par­tic­u­larly when lo­cal politi­cians do some­thing that is not en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. The air qual­ity ad­vo­cate grad­u­ated from Fresno State and wrote for agri­cul­tural trade pub­li­ca­tions be­fore shift­ing his fo­cus solely to pol­lu­tion ad­vo­cacy about 20 years ago. He is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to The Bee’s Val­ley Voices opin­ion sec­tion.

He be­lieves that many of the area’s seem­ingly pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal steps, such as the state’s cap-and-trade pol­icy that al­lows pol­luters to pur­chase cred­its used to fund other pro­grams such as the air con­trol districts, are not enough to truly deal with the area’s air qual­ity is­sues.

“In a way, it’s like World War III,” Hall said. “It’s us against our­selves.”

Hall said the younger gen­er­a­tion that Oca­sioCortez is em­blem­atic of knows that it is fac­ing a desta­bi­lized at­mos­phere and cli­mate change refugees in its life­time due to global warm­ing and cli­mate change. He praised the Green New Deal for its ve­rac­ity in reach­ing a fully car­bon-neu­tral planet now, not decades from now.

The fund­ing for these pro­grams must come from a higher tax rate on the wealthy, Hall said.

Hall is op­ti­mistic about Cox, whom he said he has known for a while.

“He brings an im­por­tant level of ex­per­tise on the fi­nanc­ing of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment in re­gards to clean en­ergy,” Hall said. Cox is the pres­i­dent of Cen­tral Val­ley NMTC, which has pro­vided mil­lions in fund­ing to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties through new mar­ket tax cred­its.

Hall re­ferred to Nunes as a “lost cause.” He said Nunes claims to care about wa­ter and agri­cul­tural is­sues, but nei­ther will be sorted with­out first ad­dress­ing cli­mate change.

“He is what I call a cafe­te­ria sci­en­tist,” Hall said. “He uses sci­ence for pes­ti­cides or an­tibi­otics for his health, but he re­jects the sci­ence he doesn’t like.”

But it is Costa, not Nunes, who Hall said is the big­ger threat to cli­mate change progress in the Val­ley.

“Cli­mate change de­niers won’t be a prob­lem for much longer,” Hall said. “They re­ally aren’t an is­sue now. The prob­lem is cli­mate de­lay­ers – politi­cians who sup­port mech­a­nisms that will take too long or who don’t want to deal with the hard is­sues now.”

Costa and his fel­low con­ser­va­tive Democrats see cli­mate change as an op­por­tu­nity to trade votes and bro­ker deals, Hall said.

“Jim Costa is ab­so­lutely a big­ger risk to cli­mate change aid than Devin Nunes,” Hall said.

Hall thinks the fu­ture of cli­mate change aid is in­deed a po­lit­i­cal one.

“This is not a sci­ence prob­lem. We know what the prob­lem is. It’s not a tech­nol­ogy prob­lem. We have the tech­nol­ogy that we need right now. It’s a pol­i­tics prob­lem,” Hall said.

“We know what to do. We just have to do it.”

CRAIG KOHLRUSS ck­[email protected]­nobee.com

On Fowler Av­enue south of Jensen Av­enue, three con­gres­sional districts meet in the ru­ral area of Lone Star. De­pend­ing on which side of the road you’re on, the pol­i­tics may be that of Devin Nunes, Jim Costa or TJ Cox. From a drone’s-eye view, Costa’s 16th Dis­trict is in the up­per left area, Nunes’ 22nd is in the up­per right and Cox’s 21st is on the lower left.

Fresno Bee file, As­so­ci­ated Press

Three San Joaquin Val­ley con­gress­men – from left, Reps. Jim Costa, TJ Cox and Devin Nunes – have dif­fer­ing views on the Green New Deal.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP file

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tu­lare, did not re­spond to an interview re­quest for this story, but he has gen­er­ally op­posed most no­tions of cli­mate change and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism over the years.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, says of the Green New Deal: “The goals are as­pi­ra­tional, and that’s pos­i­tive. But it’s very de­fi­cient in that it lacks the de­tail and does not seem to be very fo­cused on how you achieve so­lu­tions in the short and long term.”

CRAIG KOHLRUSS ck­[email protected]­nobee.com

On Fowler Av­enue south of Jensen Av­enue, three con­gres­sional districts meet in the ru­ral area of Lone Star. De­pend­ing on which side of the road you’re on, the pol­i­tics may be that of Devin Nunes, Jim Costa or TJ Cox. From this drone view, Costa’s 16th Dis­trict is in the up­per left, Nunes’ 22nd is in the up­per right and Cox’s 21st is be­low.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, says of deal­ing with cli­mate change: “The great­est chal­lenges bring the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties. I don’t ac­cept the no­tion that sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies are anti-busi­ness.”

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