San Diego Rep. Scott Peters nixes town hall on climate crisis

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, recently announced that he would be canceling a town hall event scheduled for July 30 because it overlapped with presidential debates. Activists have been protesting outside his office in University City every Friday for the last month, demanding the congressman support the Green New Deal and hold a public forum to discuss issues around the climate crisis.
(Hayne Palmour IV / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, has canceled a town hall meeting on the climate crisis previously scheduled for Tuesday, July 30, after activists raised concerns that the public event would overlap with Democratic presidential debates.

Peters’ office said the overlap was a coincidence, saying planning for the town hall started in June before the lineups were announced for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s debates.

It’s unclear whether Peters will reschedule a town hall meeting focused on climate issues before the end of the year.

“These events take a lot of staff time to schedule and prepare for, thus there are no immediate plans to reschedule,” said spokeswoman Quin La Capra. “We will revisit it in the fall.”

Climate activists have been rallying outside Peters’ office in University City every Friday for the last month, calling on him to support the Green New Deal. Organizers with SanDiego350 and the Sunrise Movement have also been pressuring Peters to answers questions from the public through a town hall-style event focused on the planet’s worsening environmental crisis.

“It‘s important to hear from constituents on this issue, and we think it’s really important they reschedule as soon as possible,” said Masada Disenhouse, co-founder of SanDiego350.

Peters is the only member of San Diego’s Democratic congressional delegation that has yet to pledge support for the Green New Deal — a resolution to zero out greenhouse emissions by 2030, while boosting jobs in renewable energy and other sectors.

Peters — who is facing re-election in 2020 with no major challengers — has instead promoted his “climate playbook,” a list of dozens of pieces of yet-to-be-approved environmental legislation dating back to 2017.

The Green New Deal was first spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and has in recent months become a rallying cry for environmental groups and voters concerned about global warming.

Reps. Juan Vargas and Mike Levin, both Democrats representing parts of the San Diego region, have signed on to the resolution.

Susan Davis, D-San Diego, announced her support for the proposal in June, following a series of rallies by SanDiego350 and others outside of the congresswoman’s office in University Heights.

The Green New Deal, however, continues to be a divisive issue within the Democratic Party. More than 90 House members have co-sponsored the legislation, while others have dismissed the proposal, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
--Joshua Emerson Smith is a reporter for The San Diego Union Tribune