Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

Honor and betrayal



If you think the impeachment inquiry has little to do with our lives on the Central Coast, think again.

I saw Republican partisan bias supersede fact and evidence—just as I have witnessed our three conservative county supervisors betray constituents by denying fact-based evidence in order to prop up fossil fuel interests.

In D.C., honor and betrayal were on stark display during the public impeachment inquiry of the House Intelligence Committee.

What does honor look like? Nonpartisan ambassadors and national security experts risking their positions, their reputations, even personal safety, to protect the integrity of U.S. foreign policy.

Betrayal was blatantly visible in the form of Republicans denying proven facts and excusing the shakedown of the Ukrainians. In so doing, Republicans not only betrayed their oaths to protect the Constitution and safeguard national security, they also betrayed the truth.

Now turn to so-called conservatives here at home: In October, Supervisors Debbie Arnold, John Peschong, and Lynn Compton circled their wagons as they kowtowed to purveyors of greenhouse gasses by voting against the opportunity to join Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), a community choice energy agency established to source carbon-free electricity.

Instead, in a 4-1 vote, the board commissioned another feasibility study, thereby ensuring a delay in joining MBCP until at least 2022, if then. So, residents who live in the unincorporated areas of the county will not have the choice to enjoy a 5 percent reduction in their electric bill, nor the opportunity to fight for the planet by reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Arnold, up for election in March 2020, threw her hands up entirely, even voting against the study. The outcome would have been different if Ellen Beraud, Arnold's challenger in the upcoming election, had been a member of the board.

Back to the impeachment hearings: The fact witnesses acted as patriots. They testified for hours under oath about events surrounding the president's quid pro quo effort to wrest categorically unproven dirt on his political rival and divert attention from proven efforts by Russia to undermine our election. The witnesses came forward out of honor and alarm at the subversion of our foreign policy to the president's political self-interest, including suppression of vital aid to combat Russia's military aggression in Ukraine.

Republican congresspersons, on the other hand, obfuscated evidence, shouted conspiracy theories, questioned the integrity of the public servants (while Trump denigrated witnesses), and sought only to build a defense against impeachment. Their narrative defies credulity.

By engaging an "us verses them" ideology, the Republicans in Congress have convinced themselves that they have the right to enhance their control by shaping our reality to their false and misleading narratives. They have abandoned logic and their own professed values, such as the need to buttress national security. They have betrayed allies, including Ukrainians, and elevated the interests of Putin and Russia, who are proven enemies of our democracy.

Likewise, the conservative members of the county Board of Supervisors adhere to an anti-government ideology that allows them to ignore truth regarding climate change; contravene their professed conservative values, including cost-cutting economics, market competition, customer choice, and community control; and they deny facts regarding community choice energy programs.

What is the truth about climate change? NASA, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and 97 percent of climate researchers and scientists worldwide agree that unless checked, greenhouse gases produced by humans will trigger a rise of up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in global temperatures over the next century. Sea levels will rise, inundating places like Venice, Miami, Lower Manhattan, not to mention the Morro Bay Estuary. Drought and its evil twin, fire, will become more and more inevitable and devastating. Diseases, such as malaria and the Zika virus, will spread. And as ecosystems change, species unable to adapt will become extinct right here in our county.

We can assuredly predict this coming ruin, and yet Supervisors Compton, Peschong, and Arnold look away and betray the future of our children. They could have contributed to a solution and advanced SLO city's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035 with a vote to join MBCP.

MBCP is one of the community choice energy agencies serving more than 10 million across the state. As public, not-for-profit energy providers, these agencies establish local control and offer customers renewable energy options. In January, when Morro Bay and SLO transition to MBCP, customers will reap an estimated savings of $19 million. Unlike PG&E, MBCP reinvests surplus revenues in local energy programs that help combat climate change. Last year community choice agencies prevented 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

In betraying fact, science, and truth, Compton, Peschong, and Arnold are following examples set by House Republicans and the Trump administration, which have actually announced that they plan to limit science in determining public health regulations.

Allow me to paraphrase from history in addressing our Republican friends: "Have you left no sense of honor?" Δ

Amy Hewes is a grassroots activist. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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