Remarks by the Vice President in a Moderated Conversation on Climate in Arvada, Colorado
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Wow, this is truly surreal being up here with you.
I know both of you and so many of us in this room today feel the gravity of the situation that we're in. And as a new member of Congress, my top priority is fighting to protect our one and only planet at the national level.
So, being from a state like Colorado, we're far too familiar with the devastating impacts of climate change as our water dries up and our wildfire season is year-round.
This can be very scary for many of us and threatens the very existence of communities across Colorado. But right now, I have hope for real change. As the White House and Congress are making a historic investment in our climate, we're at a tipping point.
How are you thinking about this moment of climate action?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I, too, am very optimistic for a number of reasons, including that we have leadership like Governor Polis -- where are you? -- he was here earlier -- (applause) -- Attorney General Weiser -- who understand the power of these offices, if you have a state that is as bold as Colorado, to actually be able to implement policies and show people that beyond a concept or an idea, that it actually works and it works for the betterment and the improvement of everyone's life, for generations also.
And so, I remain very optimistic because I also couple that with what we've been able to do -- our President Joe Biden, our administration -- what we've been able to do that I really do believe is transformational.
When you -- I've done just the kind of quick math on it. When you combine what we have accomplished with the Inflation Reduction Act, together with the CHIPS Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we're looking at about $1 trillion that will hit the streets of America on the issue of climate -- on the issue of climate. (Applause.)
So, think about what this means -- this infusion of such a substantial amount of resources, which also, by the way, will spur private investment that will then incrementally and, actually, exponentially grow that number -- and what an impact we can have to really fast-forward what is long overdue on a number of issues that are -- is both about what we'll do around greenhouse gas emissions, what we will do around water policy.
I think we're going to talk about that. I love water policy. Let's talk about that a lot. You know, what we're doing --
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: It can be a bit dry, but very important. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Exactly.
But let's -- you know, let's just -- let's have that conversation. Because I -- as a native Californian, all of us as western states, we understand what it means. We -- you know, I grew up with drought. I grew up with all this -- all the impacts of what this means.
But let me just get back to the point, which is that this really is a transformational moment. And so, when we think about it in terms of what it means for our youngest -- be it our children, our young leaders -- if you are in high school, in college; what this means in terms of what we will spur in terms of innovation around the clean energy economy; the new jobs that will be created, then what that means in terms of diversifying and upskilling the workforce to take on these jobs -- it's very exciting.
So, I, too, am optimistic.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: And being here to talk about the great work that you've done and what we can expect here in Colorado is so important because it takes time to implement things.
So, I just want to thank you for actually being here to highlight these important measures.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. DIGIULIAN: And I, too, am truly honored to be in both of your presence. I really appreciate what both -- you both are doing for the environment and the climate.
I've been climbing for 25 years, visited over 50 different countries.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: My staff got that number wrong. I apologize. (Laughter.) I said 22.
MS. DIGIULIAN: Twenty-five. But I guess that dates myself, maybe. (Laughter.)
Visited over 50 countries. And, yeah, I've been able to immerse myself in the most beautiful mountain landscapes and wilderness environments. And through a life lived in the outdoors, I've developed a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of our planet and the diverse global population that cherishes it. But I've also experienced firsthand the devastation of what climate change is doing to these beautiful places.
So, I joined the Protect Our Winters alliance to team up with other athletes and advocates to advocate around climate change policy and to protect the safety but also bolster the green economy of the places that we love.
So, Madam Vice President, how has your life shaped your work on climate and the environment?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, starting, I guess, from birth. I am -- I was born in Oakland, California, and so -- which is in the heart of the Bay Area in California. And the Bay Area takes great pride in being one of the birthplaces of the environmental movement.
I grew up learning about -- we called it ecology at the time. (Laughs.) And so, some of us who were born around that time know what I'm saying. (Laughs.) And -- and we talked about it in the context of conservation.
In fact, I'm going to share with you a very simple story, which is that I went home one day, and I said, "Well, what's -- why are conservatives bad, Mommy?" Because I thought we were supposed to conserve things. (Laughter.) I couldn't reconcile it. Now I can. (Laughter.)
But, you know, it was the movement, like it was -- it -- there was a thing called -- "Save the Bay" was a movement. We -- we talked about water. We talked about air. And so, I just grew up with it.
And I also grew up as a child of parents who were active in the Civil Rights Movement. And, of course, that being a bunch of folks who were marching and shouting for equality and justice.
And I guess the combination of all of that, at the earliest stages of my life, caused me to understand the importance of -- of these issues, both in terms of clean air, clean water, cherishing this beautiful planet that we have, but also in terms of principles of equity, understanding the inequities, which, you know, we all understand the difference between equality and equity. Right?
Equality suggests, "Well, let's give everyone an equal share. Everyone…" Right? But equity understands not everyone starts out at the same base, and so we need to take that into account and -- and -- and have policies that -- that are motivated by equitable outcomes.
And when I was elected District Attorney of San Francisco in 2003, I created one of the first environmental justice units of any DA's office in the country, in large part because at the time, and still, there is a community in San Francisco called Bayview-Hunters Point, which at the time had a annual household income of about $15,000. One-five.
And not surprising, there -- that community was also the -- the recipient of a lot of dumping and -- and just very bad behaviors, a lot from people outside of the community. And there were high rates of asthma and health outcomes.
And so I took that on. I took it on from the perspective of saying that not only do we want to encourage good behaviors, but there needs to be a consequence for bad behaviors. And as Attorney General of California, I took that same approach when it came to, for example, a big oil spill in Santa Barbara that many of you probably remember and read about where there needs to be also accountability and consequence, as well as what we can do to encourage and create incentives for good behaviors.
And then fast forward, in the United States Senate, some of the work that I did with folks like Michael Bennet, at the time, and -- and -- and what you all are doing here was around understanding how federal policy around extreme weather and extreme climate had taken into account, historically, tornadoes and hurricanes, but, hey, let's also think about how we're dealing with drought and wildfires, and bringing to bear a perspective from Western states around how it impacts this region of the country a bit differently from other regions of the country.
So that's kind of, in a nutshell, the trajectory. And then, of course, now the work that we are doing around pushing for, now implementing, these bills and what it can mean. And also what it means globally.
You know, talking with -- I've now met with 100 world leaders -- over 100. Right? Presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. And almost every time I have interactions and conversations with them, this topic comes up because, of course, this is a global issue. And we hope that we can use the recent accomplishments -- those three bills and this amount of money and infusion -- to really create and accelerate models of how we can grow a clean energy economy, not only for the United States, but globally.
MS. DIGIULIAN: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: And that's such an important point, is that we're finally leading the world in this space.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: We are --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's right.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: -- long overdue. But we have finally stepped into that role.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's right. That's right.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: All right. Now it's my turn. (Laughs.) We have our note cards to make sure we don't mess up.
MS. DIGIULIAN: Highlight it.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: (Laughs.)
There were so many great things included in the historic bill that -- bills -- the package that Congress passed. And these new laws are delivering bold solutions with billions of dollars of investments.
And I know that we've highlighted some of this, but I just want to emphasize, again, it's about protecting our nation against extreme weather, mitigating against the worst effects of climate change -- which we know far too well here in Colorado -- and expand access to clean drinking water and achieve sustainable energy independence.
This is not only essential for addressing climate change, but we know that this is a national security issue.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes $5 billion to address wildfire resilience, including the smoke impacts that our communities face. And this is absolutely critical. And I think of the communities throughout the seventh district in Colorado, especially in rural Colorado.
So these have -- all of these bills have a lot of my wish list checked off. These are things that we wanted to get done for a very long time, and you all were able to do it. So what are some of the policies that you're most excited about?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let's talk about water policy. So, we also have designated, I believe, abou- -- it's at least $12 billion for Western water issues. Right? So that's going to be the resources that we need to -- to diversify water policy. And, by that, we all know what that means. Right?
We need to be equally invested and prioritize in everything from conservation and recycling to water storage and, in particular, underground storage; what we need to do in terms of thinking about water policy around flood capture.
You know, we -- we have -- we have grown up with a system that, when there are floods, we -- the state of mind is to address the emergency at the moment, which means for many states that are coastal in particular, flush that water into the ocean instead of capturing it.
And so thinking about how we will build not only for this moment but, really, critically evaluate what we have been doing to understand that some of it just hasn't been very smart, in particular when we are now facing increased drought and these extreme changes.
Water policy -- you know, we're seeing what some call the "whiplash effect," right? On the one hand, extreme rain. I just left California this morning. Looking out the window of the plane at the mountain tops that are behind downtown Los Angeles, feet and feet and feet of snow.
And so, so far so good that it hasn't been too hot so that that snow then melts all at the same time, which could be disastrous after years, and certainly months, of drought, which means that the soil cannot absorb all that water if it flushes too quickly.
But we're looking at everything from drought to extreme rain and snow. And here in Colorado, I don't need to tell you what that has meant.
So, thinking about water policy in a way that we take into account these extreme conditions and the fact that we get whiplashed between them. Thinking of it in terms of what that means also as an extension of water policy. And it's -- and I think of it as an extension of water policy and certainly an environmental justice issue and an equity issue.
Things like lead pipes. I have been traveling the country, the communities that have been just screaming, crying -- the grandparents, the grandmothers, the grandfathers -- "Do something about these lead pipes," because the water that comes through those pipes is toxic and has extreme impact on the health, in particular of children and vulnerable populations, seniors, but also that the nature of it is such that it also impacts learning ability.
And so, then think of the intersection here, where we're talking about environmental justice, we're talking about public health issue, we're talking about an education issue, and we're talking about, as an optimist, an opportunity to use what we're going to do with this infrastructure law to put billions of dollars to get rid of all the lead pipes in America over the next nine years. (Applause.) And what that will mean in terms of jobs. Because we're also partnering with folks like IBEW -- (applause) -- and all of our friends in labor with those great apprenticeship programs that are teaching these highly skilled workers how to do the work that we need to get done in the best interest of all of us.
So, you know, water policy can go in all these different -- it flows in different directions. (Laughter.) Oh, I have puns on water. (Laughs.)
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Well, I just want to thank you for your leadership on that as a mom, thinking about what communities are facing around lead pipes and what we're going to face with the consequences of that in the long term. And it's hard to believe, in the most wealthy country in the world, that we were unable to do this before.
But I just want to thank you for finally getting that done.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But -- and may I also mention, though, on the issue of lead pipes, because it transcends that issue of lead pipes: Remember, lead pipes were installed throughout the country, not just in low-income communities, not just in communities of color.
But what it -- and this is about the principle of equity. But what it could end up and what would end up happening is a homeowner who has the resources or has equity in their home to take something, take some money out, well, then just replace their lead pipes and put in clean pipes, if you have the money. But when you don't have the money, or if you're a renter, or you're living paycheck to paycheck, then they couldn't.
And so, the significance of what we are doing with the infrastructure law around lead pipes is we're saying this is a public -- this is a public health matter. It affects all of us. Again, look at the intersection around public education, public health -- right? -- all of that.
And so we are saying that, therefore, it is in the public interest to use public resources to address it -- (applause) -- instead of requiring those home -- those renters and those families to do it on their own.
So, keeping in mind what we have been doing in the last two years to also talk about what people have a right to expect their government to address. And especially for all the parents here, the grandparents, the aunties, the uncles who show up at townhall meetings, who show up at community events, who are talking about why leaders must take seriously what is happening: Keep doing it. Because these are the things that come out of that. (Applause.) Truly.
MS. DIGIULIAN: Thank you. This last fall, I spent over a month sleeping under the stars and experiencing really extreme changing weather patterns while going after a new record-breaking first female ascent with my team.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. DIGIULIAN: And something that you really experience while on an expedition is everything is down to the extreme, but also minimal. You're navigating extreme rock fall, which can be fatal consequences; navigating through sporadic weather patterns, which can lead to really scary storms.
And then, when I came home to my house in Boulder, Colorado, we were actually evacuated because of a wildfire.
And I don't want to stray far from the script, because my next question is about water policy, which I'm -- I'm not going to get in trouble here, but I know you're particularly passionate about water.
So I'd love to hear as well your favorite water pun. (Laughter.) I think that we got a little hint of that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They just kind of roll out of me. You know, just -- (laughs) --
MS. DIGIULIAN: But yeah, I'd love to -- you know, water is the lifeblood of Colorado. And you're right --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, and the river. Yeah.
MS. DIGIULIAN: -- it's so interconnected to everything. So I'd love to just hear more on the specifics of water policy.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm going to -- I'll answer it, and then I'm going to ask you a question.
So, one of the aspects of water policy that I also think is very important is it really does highlight the interconnection and interdependence between us all regardless of geographic borders.
And, you know, take, for example, the Colorado River; take, for example, Lake Mead -- all of these water sources, what's happening in California, how that affects Colorado; how what's happening in Colorado affects the region.
We are so interconnected and interdependent. And to the extent that we fully embrace that point, I think we will be smarter with policy and resources and -- and understand the importance of collaboration.
I think about water policy through the context also of another seemingly unrelated issue, but space. So I am the head of the Space Council. I love space. And --
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: So does Ed Perlmutter. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right? Right. Exactly. And so think about it, right? So there is now technology -- in fact, we just recently launched it -- satellite technology that is now mapping -- now mapping water around the globe so we can now see where it is and where it's flowing. This is extraordinary. Because it is now this satellite technology from space will allow us here to have a sense of where it's going, what the trends are, and how we should be thinking again about the interconnection and the interdependence.
What it will mean when we think about agriculture and the ability of people to grow food. You mentioned earlier -- the congressmember mentioned the point about national security and the interconnection between extreme climate, water policy, and national security. Just think about it.
Human beings need to eat food to live. Okay, so if a community or a particular geographic location is experiencing extreme drought over years and years, they cannot grow food; they will then leave that place to go somewhere where they can grow food.
And they may go to a ple- -- place that speaks a different language and prays to a different god, which invariably will lead to some degree of conflict.
And as you look at the globe -- and then put it in the context, again, of what we're going to be able to see with all this technology about where water is going, where we are losing it, and what that will mean in terms of global migration -- of which we are seeing the largest amount of global migration that we have seen in generations -- and what that might lead to in terms of conflict. It is very real. And so these issues are all connected.
And in that way, water policy is one of the factors that, when we address it with an intentionality and intensity, we will invariably have an impact on a lot of residual and related issues.
Because, you know, when we have the ability to map it and have the data, one of the things -- I'm going to Africa at the end of the month, and this is going to be one of my areas of focus, is climate resilience and adaptation. And with the satellite technology, what we can do -- if we collect the data in a way that is accessible to everyone, not just people who have a PHD, but people who are equally, if not even smarter, who are farmers, people -- giving people access to that technology, that data so they can then make decisions about when they are planting their crops and what kind of crops to plant. Right?
This -- so, again, these things are all connected in a very important way with multiple layers in terms of impact.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: This is something that I think about most immediately the effects in Colorado -- in the seventh district; it goes all the way to Buena Vista and Salida, through Chaffee, all the way to the mountain communities. The Arkansas River is the lifeline there. And so I -- they completely rely on the diversion of the Colorado River. And we know that we are in a dire position right now with the lack of water.
And so you give me hope with what you were highlighting with the new technologies that will be coming about that we can actually utilize to address some of these issues. But I think about the farmers who are there right now who are already going to be facing some of this.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. That's right.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Well, so the next question: As a mom -- and I know there's a lot of moms in the room today. Can I actually get a show of hands for all the moms that are here? (Applause.) Look at that!
All right. Well, thank you all for taking time out of your day, being here on a workday, and also coming during what is, for many of us, our kids' naptime. (Laughter.)
I see -- I want to get -- Davis is currently sleeping back here. (Laughter.) If you could raise your hand, my hus- -- my amazing husband, who makes this work possible. (Applause.) Love you so much. And I wanted Davis to raise his hand, but he is dreaming over there.
So, Davis is only three. And I'm terrified not just about what his future looks like with the climate crisis, but what the immediate health impacts are for him and for families like ours.
You know, growing up in Jefferson County, we were always outside playing in the foothills, in the mountains, going to soccer practice and tournaments. And now I see alerts on the news stations about days where it's unsafe -- it's recommended that kids do not go outside; where they have games canceled because of how unsafe our climate is.
And so, you know, it is something the most -- also the most vulnerable communities, who are -- already have the odds stacked against them and have the worst health outcomes because of the environment they're exposed to every day -- this also impacts not just kids, but also moms and especially during their pregnancies.
And so, I know that you've done a lot of work on maternal health. And can you talk about the intersection of the climate crisis on mater- -- and maternal health?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's very significant. So, in the United States of America today, Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth; Native women, twi- -- Latina -- I mean, Native women twice as likely; and rural women one and a half times more likely, in connection with childbirth in America today.
And there are a number of issues as it relates to Black women. For example, it is well documented, and the data bears it out, it has nothing to do with her socioeconomic or educational level. It literally has to do with she is walking in that emergency room or clinic or doctor's office, and she's just not taken as seriously. And this is a racial bias issue.
But it is also, for all of these groups of women, a -- an environmental issue. And the environmental issue is that there are certain unique stressors that certain women demographically face that obviously will have an impact on their health and -- and their pregnancy.
And so, for example -- take, for example, anything from lead pipes to some of the work that we are doing now that I'm also very excited about around electric vehicles and what that will mean. Electric school buses. Right?
Twenty-five million children a day go to school on a school bus in America -- (applause) -- and over 90 percent of them are diesel-fueled, which means not only are those children inhaling those fumes, the bus driver is inhaling those fumes, whoever is in the educational ecosystem is inhaling those fumes. Right?
So, what it means in terms of a workplace safety issue for that bus driver, not to mention the children or whoever is standing there as the kids are boarding the bus or getting off the bus.
And -- and that's a health issue. And that's a health issue for that mom who is pregnant and has other children.
It -- an issue is -- I know it's particular -- I think Denver has the third-highest issue with urban heat zones. Right? And so, what that means in terms of just people who live in concrete areas where there are no trees.
It's so basic, right? If -- if you live in a climate that gets very hot and there's no shade, where it's all concrete -- and all of us know what that means, on a hot day, to walk --
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: It's hotter.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's hotter. And those are stressors. Those have an impact on the health and wellbeing of an individual.
So, the work that I've been doing on maternal health -- in particular, to reduce maternal mortality -- is, one, to elevate the issue and to make sure we talk more about it.
Again, interconnection, intersection -- right? -- between issues. It includes teaching people in the system around that pregnant woman to appropriately diagnose what is going on in her life to figure out how there can be accommodation and support for her.
You know, one of the things that I'm doing there is, we're -- I had a bill when I was in the Senate to say that we need to train doctors and nurses and medical health professionals to understand and better understand what pregnant women experience and understand it from a culturally competent way.
I wrote into the legislation that some of the best trainers of that, for medical health professionals, will be doulas -- right? -- (applause) -- who really understand quite well and -- and are some of the most trusted in the healthcare delivery system to be able to do that work.
But there's a real connection between issues like maternal health and what is happening in terms of our climate, pollution, toxic air, and what we can do better.
So, there is that. But I want to get back to Sasha for a minute, because you start- --
MS. DIGIULIAN: Oh boy.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- you have a such an incredible career --
MS. DIGIULIAN: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- and points of distinction, in terms of what you have done being the first in so many ways. And you have been an activist and very vocal using your platform as a -- as a outstanding athlete to also talk about climate. Why? What -- what -- what got you to do this?
MS. DIGIULIAN: I think I will replay that moment -- this is being filmed, right? -- over and over -- (laughter) -- again. I think -- I think that's my career highlight right there. (Laughter and applause.)
I'm here -- and I really love that every one of you out here is here -- because we live in Colorado. It is home to such an incredible amount of beautiful landscapes, outdoor recreation. You go outs- -- I go outside every morning. I've made a ritual of hiking to the top of the mountain with my dog, Moose Chaga. (Laughter.) And every morning --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wow.
MS. DIGIULIAN: -- I pretend like I'm on a phone call and in office not losing my breath. But I'm so thankful. I feel the dirt under my feet. And I look out at this beautiful sunrise, sometimes later than sunrise, and I think what gratitude I have for this.
And going back to being six and going to my brother's birthday party is how I started climbing. I didn't know what climbing was, but it ended up being my conduit to learn about the world in such a diverse set of ways.
And when you travel for climbing, you're living with -- with -- you're camping, often. You're living, like, down on the earth with whatever local community there is, and you're getting to know people, and you're getting to know the planet.
And I think that the reason that I'm here and really trying -- and truly honored to be in both of your presence, and all of you -- is because we should care. Like, nature is our natural playground, so let's protect it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nice.
MS. DIGIULIAN: But -- but coming back to the -- off of me -- (laughter) -- you know, I -- I am a optimistic person. And that's been a big route that's gotten me through my career, is trying to stay positive and optimistic through hard times. And it's -- without a doubt, our climate is going through a hard time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
MS. DIGIULIAN: And "it's now or never" is what I feel. And I think all of us could agree. But you have so much on your plate, and there are so many big issues to implement, and there are so many policies that feel like they need to be implemented in order for our climate to thrive and to survive. So how do you keep a positive perspective and stay hopeful?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look -- (gestures toward the audience) -- I mean -- (laughter) -- and I mean that. Look at -- like, just everyone look around for a minute. It's incredible. We're all in this together. We're all in this together.
And I remain hopeful because I've seen, in my life, that things that people -- perhaps some people couldn't imagine but others could because they believed in it, that these things happen. That -- you know, they're --
I feel so strongly that one should never be burdened by -- by anyone's limited ability to understand what's possible. Right? (Applause.) Like, don't let that burden you ever. That's other people's issues. (Laughs.)
It -- we have to have the ability to see what can be and then go for it. And I promise you -- and in particular to the young leaders and the young-ish leaders, all of us -- right? -- at every stage of youth that we are in here -- (laughter) -- ne- -- we can't ever stop imagining in what is possible. Because we have seen that when we believe in something and we know what is right and good, we can create it, we can build it, and we can do it.
And so, you know, electric vehicles, electric school buses -- I have been visiting places in the United States of America where we are manufacturing electric school buses, and they are really cool. (Laughter.)
You know, I mean, we are -- and, in fact, I think that we are on track -- "on the road" -- to -- (laughter) -- it's awful, just awful -- (laughs) --
MS. DIGIULIAN: All the puns.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- to being, actually, a global leader in the manufacturing -- the building and manufacturing of electric buses.
And -- and so, what is that? That's about the -- the creation of a whole new industry. It's about a workforce.
Again, I'm going to give a plug, because that has to be done, to -- to union labor, and what that means in terms of the -- (applause) -- the training and the building of that work. And so when we're talking about, you know, that workforce, then we're talking about good-paying jobs with good benefits and a pension and the ability to buy a home and take your family on vacation, you know, once a year.
And so there is just so much that is happening right now that gives me a sense of optimism.
And, you know, I grew up -- my mother -- my mother probably is the first real optimist that I ever knew. My mother had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters, my sister Maya and me, and to end breast cancer. My mother was a breast cancer researcher.
And she would take us with her, because she worked long days and long hours and weekends. And she'd take us with her to the lab from time to time after school and on weekends. And she had -- she believed in what could be and just kept working at it. And made some -- made a couple of discoveries. And I just believe in that.
And I think that's what makes us a country of innovators and leaders and believers and dreamers and doers. Right?
I mean, we should talk -- talk -- as a new member of Congress, you're seeing this then from that perspective, but you have a career, before you got to the United States Congress, of being a leader on so many of these issues. What motivates you?
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Well, I think it changes over time. For me, I started getting involved to level the playing field for regular people like me, and it was this community that gave me a chance.
But when it comes to addressing climate change, it's something that I grew up -- we all grew up learning about, but it felt like no one was doing anything. And it always was talked about a -- it's our "obligation for the next generation," instead of, "It is going to impact us all in our lifetime." And I think that we have to stop just talking about our obligation for the next generation. And believe me, that motivates me more than anything now having a young son.
But we need to talk about what is happening now and what is going to -- to get exponentially worse if we don't act. But I do have hope with leaders like you, who have actually -- are starting to move us in the right direction, that we can rise in this moment and step up in a way that we need to to save our planet.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And -- and be better. Like, we're saving something, but we're also going to be better. We're -- we're -- we're creating. We're creating. We're innovating.
You know, it's exciting. It's -- it's not only like, "Hey, let's throw out the life raft and everybody just pull it in." You know? We're actually creating new things, new ways of doing things. And that's very exciting.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Absolutely. And, you know, this has just been a surreal day. Something that I'll remember forever. And I just want to thank you so much, Madam Vice President --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: -- for joining us in Jefferson County and in Colorado.
And, Sasha, thank you for your leadership and advocacy and being such an inspiration as well.
Clearly, the Biden and Harris administration is delivering for the United States of America. (Applause.)
And I am so excited to be a partner with you in Congress to work on these issues.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: And so, before we conclude, thank you all for coming. And I would just want to turn it back to Madam Vice President for any closing remarks.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, okay, so I mentioned space before. (Laughter.) I -- I -- so I have had the privilege of -- from time to time, while on Earth -- (laughter) -- talking with our astronauts while they're in space. And I have, almost to a one, asked them: What about your travel there and being there, if anything, has changed your perspective about Earth? And almost to a one, they say how beautiful it is when they look at Earth from space and how delicate it is, how fragile in its beauty.
And so I would close this out by just saying that we all know some of the most precious things are fragile, and that's why we pay special attention to take care of them. And so let's continue to do that.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
REPRESENTATIVE PETTERSEN: Thank you, Madam Vice President.
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President in a Moderated Conversation on Climate in Arvada, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/359960