With the Trump administration set to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, many recent environmental protections may be in jeopardy. This development has worried politicians such as Sen. Barbara Boxer, who spoke at Bovard Auditorium on Thursday as the keynote speaker for the Environmental Student Assembly’s Earth Month.
In January, Boxer retired from the U.S. Senate, where she served from 1993 to 2017. She was previously the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as chair of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1993.
Boxer began her speech by discussing the relationship between science and politics in the modern world.
“It’s an odd world, filled with alternative facts, which I call authentic lies,” Boxer said to a laughing crowd. “We’re living through a time when science is so threatened that scientists have to march to show the American people that scientists are tellers of truth.”
Boxer also spoke about the injustice of climate change.
“We’re all taught to care about and stick up for the powerless,” Boxer said. “One of the reasons I was so attracted to the environmental issue is because it most often becomes an environmental justice issue.”
Joshua Blockstein, the co-director of ESA, spoke about California’s environmental policy in an introduction for Boxer.
“We need to look no further than our own state for evidence that we can take the initiative to revolutionize environmental policy,” Blockstein said. “California has taken the necessary steps to tackle climate change and protect our natural environment.”
Jacob Lind, a freshman studying English, decided to come to the event to hear about Boxer’s political opinions in the Trump era.
“She’s a political veteran, so it’s interesting to hear her take on the current turmoil,” Lind said. “She’s now a private citizen like the rest of us, but she has a kind of insight into the situation of Donald Trump being president.”
Boxer’s presentation was followed by a panel featuring Bonnie Reiss, global director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy; Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation; and Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.
Congrui Lin, a senior studying human biology, is an intern for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and came to the event to learn more about California’s environmental policy.
“I think that the cap-and-trade plan has been very successful, and so we should keep aggressively pursuing that and transitioning towards a cleaner economy,” Lin said in reference to California’s policy limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Rebecca Weber, co-director of ESA, felt that Sen. Boxer was a perfect choice for a speaker for Earth Month.
“Our mission is to engage, inform and empower the student body about sustainability initiatives on campus, but it’s not just about campus anymore, especially with the new administration,” Weber said. “It’s good to make sure that students are informed about what’s going on.”
To close her speech, Boxer called for students to take action on environmental issues.
“We have the responsibility to stand up, to speak out, to be tough and to fight back,” Boxer said.