"You can learn a lot about this community by spending a couple of hours on Humboldt Bay," said Congressman Jared Huffman, who is here in Humboldt County for a quick President's Week visit. After meeting this morning with Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond and others at the college, he took a tour of Humboldt Bay on the Humboldt Bay Harbor District's new fire boat.
Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson narrated the excursion, highlighting plans for what the district calls a "National Marine Research and Innovation Park" (NMRIP) in conjunction with HSU on the site of an abandoned mill on the bay. HSU is interested in using the site to study harnessing wave and offshore wind power and biomass energy conversion in association with its Schatz Energy Research Center.
Huffman chats with harbor commissioners Richard Marks and Mike Wilson (click to enlarge)
The new congressman serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which, Huffman said, "includes a lot of things very important to this community: our forests, our fisheries; it includes Native American affairs. So I think it's a great committee for me to serve on for the 2nd Congressional District, and I look forward to getting to work."
Just last week Huffman had his first opportunity to address Congress on the House floor. The subject: climate change. "That was by design," he said. "I really think that climate change is the biggest, most important issue that nobody's talking about right now. And I hope to be part of changing that in the months and years ahead."
What exactly can the federal government do?
"A lot. Certainly there are some things I'd like to see Congress do," he said. "Whether we can marshal the politics to make that happen, we'll see. There's a lot that the Obama administration can do under existing authority, and I'm going to support that if we can't do things through Congress. That includes some rulemaking under the Clean Air Act, carbon pollution rules for new power plants, probably some things on existing coal-fired power plants as well."
Huffman said he's definitely not a fan of tar sands. "I'm not supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline. I hope we don't go there, because at a time when we have the opportunity to choose clean, safe, renewable energy, doubling down on the dirtiest possible fossil energy is taking us in the wrong direction."
He'd rather focus on things like fuel economy and alternative energy sources. "The research dollars on things that will lead us to new fuels and new energy storage and battery technologies is going to be really important to all of this," he said.
The next stop on Huffman's Humboldt fact-finding mission today was a meeting with doctors and other practitioners from the Humboldt Bay Medical Society. Tomorrow morning he meets with elected city and county officials from Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.
PREVIOUSLY: Mike Thompson. On a River.