Congress seeks guidance from Kinston teen

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- America’s lawmakers seek the advice of a Kinston teen.

Eighteen-year-old Chris Suggs is well known for his community activism in North Carolina and his hometown. Now, he’s making a name for himself on Capitol Hill.

“As soon as you start rebuilding, as soon as you start recovering, you get hit by another,” Suggs said about the impact of major storms that seem to be hitting North Carolina with greater and greater frequency.

Wednesday, Suggs told lawmakers Kinston’s recent storm history paints a concerning picture of life as the planet gets hotter.
In telling his community’s story, the 18-year-old became the first ever witness to testify before the newly-formed House committee dedicated to tackling climate change.

“This shouldn’t be the world we’re growing up in where our neighborhoods and our homes, and our businesses that we shop in are being destroyed at such a constant and continuous rate,” Suggs said, “I want to ask Congress to do something about it, I’m not exactly sure of any specific policies or anything but I know there are so many things that can be done.”

Democrats leading the committee said future hearings will focus on detailed proposals to curb rising temperatures. Their republican peers made it clear they’re not convinced humans are responsible and warned against taking steps that could cripple the economy.

“I have seen the devastation that a top-down, one-size fits all government approach can cause,” said Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV). She blames Obama-era environmental regulations for coal’s decline, though experts generally point to the rise of natural gas.

Miller doesn’t trust Washington to develop climate plans that avoid deep economic pain. “I want to empower our state and local governments as well as our communities as we seek to find solutions,” she said.

While the Green New Deal gets plenty of attention, it’s politically dead in this Congress. As the new committee looks to find bi-partisan solutions, so far, even setting the ground rules for its work has broken down along party lines.

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