Bonus Episode: Matt Interviews Rex Parris, Mayor of Only Net Zero City
Guest Name(s): Mayor Rex Parris
Episode Audio Links:
ACC Bonus Episode – Mayor Rex Parris – A Climate Change with Matt Matern
You’re at A Climate Change today. And this is Matt Matern. Now I’m your host. And I’ve got Rex Parris, Mayor Rex Parris of Lancaster with us today. Mayor has created the first netzero city on the planet. What’s kind of amazing to me is that as a Republican, he’s come up with a very pro environmental program, which I can think marries both profits to grain. So we’re talking green profits. And we’ve got to marry the dynamism of the market, and the creativity of scientists who are who are working on green solutions to our environmental problems. So welcome here. And it’s great to talk to you again about the incredible work that you’ve done up here in Lancaster.
Thank you. Thank you. I always correct people that this, you know, the last couple of years. It’s not climate change. It’s climate extinction. Let’s call it what it is, you know, and when you look at it, as to what it really is, it’s absolutely a Republican position.
I mean, what are we about, we’re about protecting hardworking families. We’re about public safety. If we don’t do a lot, there isn’t going to be a need for public safety, because we will be extinct. Now. I’m not going to see that. But my grandchildren are absolutely going to see it with the current projections.
Yeah, it is horrifying, the thought of what can and will happen. I mean, we’re already seeing the front end of it with temperatures rising to record levels. They like 19 of the last 20 years, the hottest years, ever recorded. And we’re seeing just incredible storms, all these different things we’re seeing across the planet, obviously, we need to do things. And as you said, conservatism means conservation. And of course, the great conservation movement started under Republican presidents, Abraham Lincoln saw pictures of the amazing sequoia trees out here in California and said, Hey, we need to protect these. And and Yellowstone, I believe was started under President Grant the first national park and then Theodore Roosevelt started, it just expanded upon that. So
Nixon, EPA, the EPA, every major environmental act, came from a Republican administration. Now, have they lost their way? Well, yeah, they’ve lost their way in many ways. Do I think they will come back? I do. I just got back from DC. I was meeting with the speaker. It’s a difficult time it’s tumultuous, but there’s still some people in the party with who read.
Yeah. Well, that’s that’s heartening to hear that you’re talking to the speaker and hopefully have his ear and he’s not too far from here his district and should be able to see the great work that you’ve been doing what what does he say to the work that you’re doing here in Lancaster?
Well, he’s on many occasions announced I was the most innovative mirrored mayor in America, which I appreciate. But he’s in a very difficult, difficult spot, you know, I mean, he’s having to hold a lot of factions together. And, unfortunately, the Republican Party is funded by oil. I mean, so he doesn’t say a lot about my environmental efforts. Which I understand, well, you know, it when I first started down this path, I was scoring, I’d been laughed at by every Republican I knew. And they’re not laughing, like they used to, but the younger people in the party, you’re not stupid. You know, you don’t have to look very far in the evidence is just so overwhelming, that you have to be an idiot not to see it.
Well, that’s kind of my feeling as well. I mean, I was kind of a soft environmentalist, going back to the 80s, early 90s. I was supportive of George HW Bush, when he said he was going to be the environmental president. I thought, hey, that that’s the Republican Party that I kind of joined up with. And then as the party progressed into the 2000s, particularly under Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, were even more beholden to oil than ever before, which was a mistake and policy and very short term is a myopic policy. Let’s get it out in front of this and seize the business opportunities that are going to be there for us leading the world. Old in green technology, and who should be doing it is the oil industry.
I mean, who is best capable of putting a windmill out in the ocean, the people that have been putting these oil rigs out there for 50 years, they know more about building in the middle of the ocean than anyone. Although, interestingly enough, they are slowly coming in this direction. Southern California Gas recently approached us about Lancaster being the first city that bleeds in hydrogen into the natural gas that the consumer uses be about 20% mixture that will make the natural gas a lot safer. It’ll burn cleaner. And we’ve reached the break point.
You know, right, right now everybody’s thinking of hydrogen for automobiles, which they should, but that’s a long ways down the road. Because we don’t have the infrastructure for it, you got to fuel those cars, every gas station needs to be a hydrogen fueling station in order to service them. That’s just a reality, that’s going to take a long time to get to. But right now, hydrogen, at current prices, I mean, we just signed a long term contract with religion at $10 A kilogram. That’s cheaper than natural gas. Now, you know, when you do the comparison, we can put fuel cells that will cover the whole neighborhood, and have one central place that we look, you know, you truck it in and you fill the tank.
That’s today. And it would be cheaper than what people are paying for natural gas. Could we stop climate extinction? The last couple of years is the first time we’ve had the technology to do it. And that technology is going to be nuclear, and it’s going to be hydrogen, the battery. Even cars are a stopgap, you know, just to bridge because ultimately, you got to find the lithium build those batteries, without, you know, the environmental footprint that that causes.
I don’t think they’re going to be able to do that. The earth is going to be fine. We’re just not going to be on it. Now, could there be pockets of humanity left? Maybe, maybe. But we’re talking about billions of people dying within the lifespan of my grandchildren. That’s not I mean, it is upon us.
Right, we have to take bold steps. It’s no longer the time for fiddling around on the edges. I talked to somebody just the other day, and they were there. were proposing that we set aside 50% of the planet for going back to essentially like parks, nature parks, where nobody can intrude and mess around with the environment. And that that would create enough habitat where we could save enough species where we can survive in a meaningful way.
Except we’re never going to do that. The problem with the left is their solutions are not realistic. You know, they’re not going to happen. I look at the world as a realist, what can we legitimately expect to accomplish? Now? Do they have a valid concern? Absolutely. When was the last time you pulled into a gas station to clean your windshield because it was covered with bugs.
Most of the people working in this office I do not remember a time where that occurred. When I grew up here. Every time you went into a gas station, you had to clean your windshield because you couldn’t see with all the books. The insect population is collapsing. Birds are starving. You know, it’s all of the signs are there. And they’re frightening signs.
Well tell us a little bit about the initiatives that you’ve taken here in Lancaster. I know you’ve got, I believe three different hydrogen facilities that you’ve started one taking paper and turn it into hydrogen, one waste, and then one maybe solar. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that.
One way to do it is to just do solar panels and electrolysis. You take the electricity off the solar panels and you use the electrolysis to correct the hydrogen out of the water. Water vapor. We have another one that uses thermal heat from the sun to do the same thing. That’s the one we just signed the contract with her $10 kilogram. Now a year ago, the best you could get was 20. They’ve already cut the price in half, right? We’re making incredible inroads element has come in and they’ve bought half the Side current, they’re going to cover it with solar panels to make hydrogen and ammonia.
We will be producing more hydrogen in the city of Lancaster than anywhere in the country. Within a year, maybe year and a half. We are we’re already cutting deals with LA, we’re talking about cutting deals that we will supply them with the hydrogen. I thought what would really happen when I set out to become the netzero city is that I’d last maybe two three terms and, you know, the, they’d lower the hammer on me because I thought it was gonna cost too much. We’ve made nothing but money. You know, it’s we provide electricity to our citizens cheaper in Southern California Edison kid. Now they’ve even passed legislation to cut into how cheap we can we can provide it.
But think about it. I mean, it doesn’t take rocket science, well, maybe it does take rocket science. But it doesn’t you don’t have to be a rocket sciences to understand it, right? That it has to be cheaper, once you build the platform for it. To take free energy from the sun, rather than drill 20,000 feet into the earth to get it. It’s It’s absurd to make the argument that alternative energy is too expensive. It’s not, it’s cheaper. When we started, when we started, we we put solar panels, you know, on the stadium and all the city buildings in Holland, we cut deals for 15 cents a kilowatt. And we thought we were geniuses. We now buy and sell it all day long between four and eight cents. It it’s a rapidly evolving field. But it is definitely cheaper.
Well tell us a little bit about your challenges with the utility companies because they seem to want to prevent solar rooftop solar, to going out to citizens, and to have it on commercial buildings. And I was at an event recently with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It opened up at all to see with Terry tanaman, the former Cal EPA chief under Schwarzenegger, and they put solar up on top of that commercial building down the LA Harbor, and it could power 800 homes. And Arnold said during the course of his remarks that if we put solar on every commercial rooftop, we’d have enough solar capacity to power practically the entire state of California. And that’s not even talking about residential or other arrays. What are the impediments that the utilities are throwing down to get in the way of that happening?
You understand? You know, it’s hard for me not to say these people are it’s just simply evil. But I recognize they’re not I recognize the way we do business is it’s done in one two year terms, you know, these guys will be out out retired five years, they got five years to make their impact so they can get that golden parachute. And, you know, live in Jupiter, Florida, and or $20 million dollar home. I mean, they’re racing for that. They really don’t care what happens to my grandchildren, you know, and what I mean by that is they just don’t think about it. They’re not they don’t allow themselves to think about it.
Right. So what do they do to prevent us from doing something about it? I used to be invited to almost every Energy Conference. One day I’m getting on a plane. I’m the keynote speaker, I get a call. They took me off the program. Sempra Energy was one of the sponsors of the program. And they said, We’re not going to sponsor a few shows up. And that is going to happen consistently now for a couple years with the energy companies.
I understand it. I mean, I don’t, I don’t hold back. The I also understand that these guys are very good at being able to predict what’s going to happen in the oil industry and the oil market and the natural gas market. Right. They know nothing about solar, they know nothing about hydrogen. They’ve now become redundant. You know, there’s no reason to have them. Because they don’t have any idea how to work with those new energy sources.
So they resist it with everything they have, even to the point of infiltrating into these environmental groups. Doing these press releases, how we’re green energy and look what we’re doing. We’re funding these programs, but they’re also creating the agenda. They’re suppressing what we’re doing, I think, yeah, you see it with the governor Governor Newsom, and that I Um, the regulatory agency was kind of allowing or recommending that they kind of limit what roof top solar can do. And so where where do you see that going?
I have one area, that is my responsibility. It’s Lancaster. That’s my only responsibility. And I’m very careful not to get too far out there in regards to state or national, only in the extent of where they come together. Although I do speak a lot, but I don’t, I don’t want to waste my energies. I mean, we think that Congress is smart, right? Because the nature of being congressmen go there and talk to some of these fools. I mean, there ought to be a rule they can they have to read, they have to be able to read because I don’t think they can.
I think they’re just torrents of information. And really, to stay up on this, you really have to work at it.
That’s true. That’s why they get paid to be congressman, they should work at and unfortunately, they’re not and, and they’re more interested in getting the new photo op than they are digging into the policy papers that are required. I mean, I’ve been studying this pretty seriously for the last few years. And I feel like I’m just kind of a neophyte level after having read a bunch of books and talking to 100 of the best people in the field. You know, and I feel like most of them aren’t even close to my level, which is probably subpar for where they should be.
I’m always shocked when I get calls from people, you know, in government asking me about hydrogen or, or solar, how to do this stuff. Just how uninformed they are. You know, it, you know, people got real interested in hydrogen, when Biden announced that he was going to give billions of dollars away for it, right? Everybody’s trying to get a piece of that pie without any idea of how they’re going to use it.
So in, as far as you’re concerned, on the IRA Act, and the four hydrogen hubs that are being created, are you getting are set to get any of that government money? And are they set to invest any of it here?
Yeah, we’ve got several lobbyists retained, we’re, you know, the, the advantage the city of Lancaster has, is, you know, we, my wife, and I have just been incredibly blessed from the law firm. You know, there’s, I’m able to, to put a lot of money into politics. And that’s where I direct it. So that we have a voice. So yeah, I think that definitely is going to happen. And also, we have a track record. You know, I mean, this has not cost our taxpayers anything. They have saved money in the process.
That’s amazing that it didn’t cost the taxpayers anything. And I think that’s the the message that I’d like to see kind of out there in the country is that the template that you’ve created here in Lancaster, and to use that template for other cities across America and across the planet is say, here’s what we did. This is how we did it. And let’s just replicate it, because you you went through a lot of trial and error to get to the point where you’re at. Tell us a little bit about that story. What was the the trials and the errors and the successes?
Well, one of them was we signed, you know, 20 year contracts at 15 cents a kilowatt thinking we were geniuses. You have to be willing to take risks and recognize that it’s a volatile industry, because it’s just starting, you know, it’s new. Expect that. It I don’t know if it was luck, or if it’s just the way that industry is, it’s a lot less expensive. Yeah. Just because it’s obvious. It should be it’s free. You just got to build the infrastructure. So what does that mean? When I say build the infrastructure, you got to build the gas station?
Once you build that gas station, it’s nothing but profit, right? I mean, that’s how it works. That’s how a free economy works. The plant that’s coming in, it’s a billion dollar facility that takes paper uses plasma torches, cracks the hydrogen out of it. The there’s then the residues for agricultural products, it’s no impact on the environment. When they were talking to me about building it here, you know, I said, Okay, but, you know, you gotta give us something. They said, What, and I go, and he goes, What’s that? I go, that’s 5%. He reached out and shook my hand When that plant is up and running, we will be making 5% of the profits.
Yeah, we’re doing that with other industries as well. Who it because we can bring a lot to the table for them. You know, like, years ago, 10 years ago, I had brought KB homes together with BYD. And I said, Build me, a house that’s affordable to the middle class American. That’s net zero. It produces all the energy and it stores it couldn’t be done. They said, I said, Well, what would it take you to try? They said, You know, we could do it, but it’s not affordable. Just you can’t do it affordably? Like, what would you do? What would it take to get you to try?
And we waived all building permit fees, which is about 80 grand. It’s really expensive to build a house. People don’t recognize that. And then they said, but how long is it going to take to permit it? And I realized that really was a major concern. And so I looked at my watch, and I said, How long do you want it to take? Because that’s how it works. You know, the mayor and the city council control building permits? The President does, right, we do. And that is a huge expense. If you tie that money up for two, three years, which is what happens in LA County. The profitability just sinks in your because you got to pay for that money. The that was something I learned.
And then then I started looking at the other permitting processes. When it comes to alternative energy. I found out it was taking six months to get solar panels on a roof top approved. And there were usually one or two design changes they required. So I just sent an email, it will now take 45 minutes. Figure it out. They did you know and now it takes 45 minutes, you can do it over the internet. It’s not rocket science, if you use a licensed contractor to do it, all right. And that hydrogen will be the same way. Government costs industry just way too much money. And then what will happen like the PUC that is the most captive agency, you could have. I mean, some of the members of the PUC were lobbyists for Shell Oil. That’s who sits on that. We have to be very careful to not allow that to happen to hydrogen.
And I guess then the question is, how do we do that? How do we keep the PUC from not putting their foot on the neck of the development of hydrogen? Because I would imagine the the powers that be in the oil industry and other industries may not want to have competition from another energy source.
They are trying really hard to take over hydrogen. The you know, we have this thing called arches, which is the for the getting California’s hub for hydrogen. I would like to see arches be the regulatory body for hydrogen. And that’s all they do. With the with a clear legislative purpose of expanding hydrogen, not suppressing it. Well, what what’s Kevin McCarthy doing the Speaker of the House to to help us out here in California to get some of these things like the hydrogen hubs, and some of the IRA money, war working to our benefit here in California.
Let’s just say there was a reason I spent three days in Washington.
Well, I hope you’re leaning on him hard, as hard as I can. Okay, well, yeah, it’s important for the Republican Party to wake up and see the business sense behind it. I see governors and senators on the East Coast who are in Republican states welcoming some of the environmental based businesses there. It’s unfortunate that the rhetoric hasn’t matched kind of the, the sense of welcoming on the business side,
I, you know, I’ve learned over the years, don’t look at what they say, Look at what they do. The way especially with the internet the way it is now, you have to say stupid stuff all the time, just to stay in office. But what how are they voting? You know, and we’ll know that very soon.
I know that you’re working with Japan on hydrogen, and I know that they’re kind of on the cutting edge of of making hydrogen. A real useful commodity for transportation. Tell us a little bit about that.
Transportation and power I mean, remember what happened, I’ve actually visited Fukushima I’ve been at that plant that blew up, had to leave because the radiation levels were rising again, the their experience, you know, with with nuclear is such that they could never, never get the support to put it in, even though the new plants are relatively safe. I mean, they’re not nearly as dangerous as the current ones. So they don’t have any options. They don’t have an oil industry. They’re at the mercy of the oil markets and always have been remember why World War Two started?
You know, they, their access to oil was stopped. That was what 1930s You know, that that’s always look what’s happening in Russia. I mean, ultimately, most of the sins of the world seem to be traced back to that. It is we should recognize that. So Japan doesn’t have lobbyists and captive agencies in a force pushing against hydrogen. That’s why they’re, they’re blossoming. And most of the patents that allow this to work comes from Japan. And they will be doing a major investment in Lancaster in at least every month. If not twice a month, I’m meeting with Japanese officials of Bennett, Japan, going back in October, I’ll be meeting with the interior minister, they take it very seriously.
And they’re going to be coming in in a big way. I was back in Japan a few months ago. And I actually got inducted to a samurai clan that’s over 1000 years old. You know, the mayor of Nami a, we’ve become very good friends since then. That’s our sister city. And Nami is going to be the center of hydrogen for Japan. And that’s where all the development is going to occur. We’re hoping to duplicate that here in Lancaster.
Well, I was just in Japan in February, I went up on Khoisan Mountain, which is where half the samurai families are buried. And it was an amazing cemetery of 300,000 people that and it’s a spiritual center. And so I got my first Toyota MRI, which is the hydrogen powered car back about four or five years ago. And when I got it, they they sent me this nice book, and it showed their 100 year plan for hydrogen. So Toyota has 100 year plan. So they’re, you know, it’s a different way of doing business than most American companies. And I think that it’s generational.
Yeah, it’s generational. And that’s the way that we should be looking at things at all of our problems. Where, where’s this heading? 500 years from now, where are we going? If we’re not asking those questions, we’re, you know, going to kill ourselves by extracting things without looking at the true costs. And one of the things that you raise is the geopolitical cost of oil, the cost of us being dependent upon Saudi Arabia and other oil producing company countries like Russia, is obviously resulted in the Ukraine. If we did not have those dependencies, we wouldn’t have these problems.
So let’s be clear what had happened. And with the power of Saudi Arabia, it is pretty clear that high placed government officials were involved in 911. I don’t think anybody doubts that anymore. And they got a pass. We forgave them didn’t even investigated, because we’re so dependent on oil. I mean, morality has taken a backseat. And I think that is the most glaring example of it. Our politics had been so beholden to big oil, and they wiped out so many things along the way, like just here in Los Angeles, the trolley cars that were in existence. And then one of the I think it was the the tire companies, which is related to the oil industry, went off and bought them and then destroyed our entire public transit system.
Yes, that’s exactly what occurred. Yeah. I also kind of wanted to turn to some of your legal battles against PG and E. And I think, get an update on what’s going on there.
PJ was a real eye opener to me that case was a defamation case. But gathering all of the facts, it was horrifying. What PGD does. They have pled, pled guilty, I mean, to over 100 homicides criminal please It’s not an accident. You don’t plead on an accident. You know, it’s there. Their conduct was so willful and deliberate that over 100 people they have pled guilty to, nobody went to jail. Nobody. The fines were significant. I’ll give you that. So but what does that mean?
They bought their way out, just like Sempra did with with Southern California Gas people died because of the the Porter Ranch gas well explosion, you know, blowout died. That’s called homicide. Let it let it let it go. We got the emails the different elected officials they were lobbying during, during the blowout to lessen the public the publicity on it. The the duplicity of government in that where they would take the air monitors, putting my feet above the ground, only turn them on when the wind was blowing in the other wet other direction, I’d actually happened.
It wasn’t turned them on it was actually take the sample, they took the sample when it was least likely to be there. That’s government doing that with them. You know, they, they have far too much influence with our government. I actually sue Governor Brown for what they did to the water. in Kern County, we had 26 pristine aquifers, we now have for all of them contaminated by the oil industry, they haven’t had to pay one dime for it. PG and a they they put this pipeline to them.
You know, they call it the backbone, you know, the for the gas. They buried it three feet. In agricultural land. They’re constantly getting leaks in and strikes that have the potential. And in fact, twice did everything within 600 feet is is burnt to a crisp 600 feet. That’s two football fields. These are underneath people’s houses.
That’s astonishing to me what they’ve been allowed to get away with and continue or are continually are allowed. That the trial I did on the defamation I have never ever experienced a trial where the law was so irrelevant. You know, I would have got a better fairer rulings from the president of PGD. Wow, yeah. They’re that powerful?
Well, I feel like that there needs to be criminal responsibility. Why? Why is it that we don’t pull the licenses of PG and E after 100 convictions of manslaughter? I mean, why is it that they get to continue, essentially walking free after that kind of? Incredibly for the elections?
Yeah, let’s be, let’s be clear about how this works. I mean, I’m able to say all this stuff, because I don’t want anybody’s money. I don’t need it, you know, I pay for my own campaigns. The, but most elected officials don’t have that ability. If they want to have a job, they have to make radical compromises with these people. And look how powerful they are. They took me off this the speakers panel of environmental, alternative energy forums, they just gave them money. You can buy anything in this country. Certainly, you can buy the truth.
That, you know, it’s it’s always shocking to me the depth of of the corruption. And it’s and it’s so sneaky and you know, buying off environmental organizations by saying, hey, we’ll donate to your organization just don’t know how
it’s done. It’s kind of important that the people in these organizations understand how it’s done. They come in very benignly. You know, they’re waking up to the fact they gotta fix the environment, and they want to pay for their sins and you know, whatever, whatever nonsense they tell you. Within two years, you’re dependent on that money. If they take that money, the people working in your organization don’t have a job.
There’s a thing called motivational blindness. Once that sets in, you really can’t see it. You really can’t hear it. And they do it with persuasion science. I mean, there are people are really adept at this. You know, you think the Chinese and Russians are good that they don’t couldn’t hold a candle to the oil industry. 50 years ago Exxon knew the North Pole was going to melt. If they continue to do what they were doing with fossil fuels, they suppress that report. They know exactly what they’re doing, but it’s for short term goals.
Yeah, to me, that’s, that’s a criminal behavior and that they, they estimated Exactly, they said, We’re going to be at 430 parts per million in in around 2020. And it’s exactly what they said it was going to be. So they knew it. And they knew the consequences. They projected they were going to be environmental disasters, as you said, and they said, Well, you know, we’ll make hundreds of billions of dollars. So we’ll suppress this.
You know, my experience has been, it’s rarely said, it’s rarely spoken. They just do it. You know, you know, where you’re, you know, how to get an advancement in the company. You don’t have to say it, rarely do you find those memos because they don’t exist, you don’t need to exist. You know, I took the depositions of the people in Southern California Gas, wood that were there when this blowout was going.
And it was astonishing to me what they could be blind to, I was taking the deposition of their lead chemist who, whose job was to test the gas, and to make sure it was safe, right. And she’s issuing these reports for the month and a half that stuff was coming out of the ground about how safe it was. And it’s just methane. And it’s bla bla bla bla bla. But what had been occurring was, she was thinking after you scrub the gas, this is the constituent parts, which although aren’t good for you aren’t deadly either. Right? As I’m talking to her, I said, so when you scrub the gas, what do you do with the with the toxic waste that you’re scrubbed out of it? Oh, we put it back into the formation. And they did that for 50 years? And I said, So 50 years, you’ve been using this as a toxic waste dump?
Well, I wouldn’t call it that blah, blah, blah. And then I said, well, the gas coming out of that hole, was it scrubbed in, she literally got sick, had to stop the deposition and come back next week. It had never occurred to her. That what she was saying. I had no basis in fact, because that wasn’t the gas they were testing. You’re following? Yeah. Motivational blindness. But yeah, do they? Do they put roadblocks every step of the way? I bought those streetlights over 10,000 poles, right. I bought them from I mean, the city bought them for medicine. I wanted them to put LED lights on it.
I wouldn’t do it said it would take years to do the feasibility study and all that. So we bought them. It was we made a fortune on it. Because they were charging us $90 A pole for maintenance they never did. We were able to replace the lights at an enormous and still have an enormous savings, you know, because you don’t have to maintain them. An LED never burns out. Right. And so right after we did that, and announced the success of it, they passed an ordinance cities can’t buy the streetlights. They clearly have way too much influence in Sacramento.
That’s crazy, because Sacramento politicians who I’ve talked to are, by and large, very environmentally friendly and are trying to work for good things still, how could they maneuver that through the process, obviously, manipulation and campaign contributions and the like, in fairness, it’s also because of the business model.
We need to have utilities. If as more and more people no longer need their services, the people left do have a much greater expense. So how do you balance that? I think the way to balance it is utilities should not be private, you know, they are given all of the power of government. You know, they have a monopoly. They are actually quasi government is what they call them, you know, when we go after them, we could use the the eminent domain to get their, you know, the, what’s called inverse condemnation. Where what they do is it taking you know, that’s what, that’s our next move on to journey that. That backbone they put through the state. Farmers have to wait days, sometimes weeks before they can plow their field over that that pipeline. They didn’t buy that easement If they are exposed, is what I’m saying. There’s just so much wrong with it.
Yeah, I agree with you that it should be a public good because quite frankly, they’re putting too many roadblocks in the way of a public good and they’re not. For what reason? Are we having PG and E and Southern California Edison, essentially run our power business, it’s really enriching them, versus enriching our communities, enriching our state, guaranteed profits, by the way. Yeah, guaranteed, their rates are set in order for them to have the profits.
You know, I mean, it might have worked when you needed to build it doesn’t work anymore. Right. You know, the what we’re hoping to do with hydrogen, it’ll be a city run for the citizens. The so you don’t have this gouging. I mean, people in this city cannot cool their homes in the summer, because it costs too much. This thing is totally solvable today with today’s technology. And we would pay less, the consumer would pay less.
Tell us a little bit about the micro grids that you are creating here in Lancaster. And I think that my understanding that’s kind of a move away from the utility model. And to the extent that we can create micro grids that are not so much relying upon the major utilities that were more resilient to fires and things of that nature, power outages, and then we don’t, we’re not relying upon the utilities.
Well, to begin with the most vulnerable part of our nation is the grid. If this thing with China gets worse and worse, right, all of that is built in China, the transformers that we outsourced almost the entire industry, and we have to bring it back. Because we cannot have that level of vulnerability. At the outset, and resilience in a community, especially in California, when the San Andreas goes, it’s six months before we can restore services. Six months before we can restore water, you know, that you can take a shower with, I mean, we’ll certainly be able to get water that you can drink. But that’s all the more we can become with micro grids are safe from that. Shake all your one, we’re going to be fine.
But tell us a little bit about more about micro grids because I would imagine many of the people listening to this may not know what a micro grid is.
Well, a micro grid is simply like if I wanted to power this building a defendant of the grid, it would be a micro grid. And as soon as we get a little further along with hydrogen, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to put a fuel cell on it. It’ll be cheaper. The and then I don’t care in regards to power outages because they’re not going to happen to me.
Now. We can do that with neighborhoods. And in fact, we are doing it we are ordinance says if you build a new house, it has to be net zero, you have to produce enough power to power that house and store it. And we’ve been doing that now for what four or five years. There’s housing tracks, they’re essentially microgrids. The law requires them to hook up to the grid, but there’s really no reason to, but they’re still having to pay Addison. There’s a lot of ways to do it. What it comes down to is the storage of it. There’s one development they’re doing that’s going to have flywheels in the ground and be flywheel spinning, you don’t even know they’re there.
But from the solar, it charges the flywheel. You get it spinning during the day, and it spends all night long producing, feeding that electricity back into the the neighborhood. Right now we’re using the grid to exchange that power. We don’t need to, you know, the wall, I always like to bring this one up, because, you know, the most of the people involved in climate extinction are are liberals. Right? They are totally opposed to the wall. I’m opposed to the wall. Now. We need that labor source. You know, we don’t have enough labor in this state or country.
We need folks immigrating, it’s just the way it is. Whether you like it or not. That is the state of the country right now. But within 1520 years with the outside, most of Central America, most of southern Mexico, most of the northern South America will be uninhabitable. There will be heat waves going in there at 130 140 degrees, you cannot survive in that, especially if you have aircon don’t have air conditioning 120 will kill you. If you’re in there.
If you’re, you know, I just read an article about they’re talking about naming heat waves like they do hurt hurricanes. They kill far more people today, heat waves killed far more people, I will have people out in the desert dying this month. People with air conditioning are okay. But homeless people don’t have air conditioning. Let’s be clear about that. People who thinks they can work through these heat waves are risking their life. It’s already bearing down on us. It’s already insufferable.
And I just heard people talk about how it was a Chinese communist plot to take over our economy. People in leadership that is that’s remarkable. It’s burying your head in the sand and not looking at the facts not looking at the reality that exists. You know, heat waves are hitting our country and around the world at levels that are on the horrible. Yeah, and haven’t been seen before. And they’re getting worse.
And it may be already too late. But you know, there’s been a lot of times we’ve thought it was too late. You just fight. Yeah, fight with everything you have.
One of the things I’ve been targeting some people about is creating green islands kind of within cities. What is Lancaster doing to kind of promote that planting more trees planting more greenery to lower the temperatures of a city, we’re not we’re a desert. Probably those trees taking enormous amount of water, people really have no appreciation for how much water they use.
The fortunately in Lancaster water is not a critical issue right now, because we water banked. A vac is the water agency that they’ve got a lot of water under the ground, and we’re good for about 10 years, you know, at the current rate of development. But if we started planning a lot of trees, I wouldn’t be the case. In areas where they can do it makes a lot of sense. A lot of sets.
But okay, well, that’s interesting to know that you’ve studied it, and you’ve looked at it and said, Hey, this, this is an option. And we should was because they’re talking about doing things in Phoenix, which I assume is kind of a similar environment to what you have here. But maybe it’s they could do that with purple pipe water. But good luck, Phoenix, you’re gonna see a massive migration from people in Phoenix, that I don’t see any way their population doesn’t cut by at least 50%.
Anyway, I mean, I was there two summers ago, I couldn’t believe it. As the cost of power increases, it’ll be like our agricultural fields here. You know, we used to grow alfalfa everywhere you looked talk about green, it was green everywhere you looked. Then the cost of pumping, that water became so great. You don’t see any alcohol? Well, there’s a few but very few alfalfa fields out there. It’s water intensive. I don’t see how the problem with Phoenix is Yeah, okay. You can get air conditioning, all wonderful. The cost of power has become so great. People can’t afford it.
I know they’re saying they just don’t have the groundwater to support the population. So they just can’t build any more there. And, and they guess they take from the Colorado River and those rights are limited to the way speaking of alfalfa, I guess, down by El Centro. There are a bunch of farmers that got water rights back 100 plus years ago, and they do grow alfalfa down in El Centro. And they have more water rights than the entire state of Arizona. And I think Utah combined just this group of farmers, which is kind of a bit crazy. When you think about it.
It is crazy. I don’t know that it’s crazy. It’s just antiquated legislation. You know, I mean, we’re you cannot go in to an extinction level event. And hold on to all the freedoms You’ve grown so accustomed to. You just can’t nobody wants to say it. You know, I mean, when this will undoubtedly be clipped by somebody will be on Facebook, people will be sending me death threats over it.
But the truth of it is, if we are to survive, it’s going to have to get really stringent on what we allow people to do, though, if we were to start that debate now and have that discussion now, it would we would be able to minimize it. You want it as minimal as possible. Right? Right. If you wait too much longer, we’re not going to have that luxury.
Right? Yeah, I think that obviously, those farmers that have those water rights, we should compensate them, they paid off whatever it is, they get billions of dollars. But that’s it, they don’t have them anymore. Because we have 10s of millions of people who need that water more than we need to grow alfalfa in the middle of El Centro, which is stupid is crazy, you know, the future of agriculture is going to be up, you’re gonna see 30 storey structures, where they’re growing things, it’ll be greenhouse growing, it’ll be hydroponic enclosed structures. I don’t see any way to avoid that. I also like the idea that it’s really nutritious food.
Yeah, they’re, they’re doing it in Europe, I think it’s Belgium or the Netherlands, who grow more food than practically any country in Europe in these places that are similar to what you’re describing. And it’s, it’s amazing how effective and efficient they can be similar in Denmark, they’re, they’re now all wind powered, they get 100% Some days, not every day, but some days up to 100%. And now they’re exporting that they’re creating green hydrogen, with the excess wind power to electrolyze it and now they are talking about being the Saudi Arabia of wind and hydrogen, because then they can ship the hydrogen down to as we’re talking about to to Germany for their industry to make clean, clean steel and clean cement and clean, cleaner, very clean, some cleaner.
I’m confident that we’re going to be able to do the hydrogen, because we have a track record, you know, the first affordable netzero house in the world we did create here, you know, and we created it with an international partnership to do it. Our transportation agency is the only profitable transportation agency in America, the only one why, because it’s an electric fleet and carbon credits, seniors ride the bus for free veterans ride the bus for free college students ride the bus for free, and we are still the only profitable transportation agency in America.
It makes nothing but great sense. It’s, you should do it as a business decision, without any concerns for what for your grandchildren. Personally, I wake up every day with one goal. And it’s my grandchildren’s survival. And I mean that with absolute sincerity. It’s, it’s very easy to be passionate about this. Because I know what’s at stake.
That’s worth getting up in the morning and working hard for so you know, at the end of the day, what’s the purpose of life, the purpose of life, is to become as good as you can at whatever you’re passionate about, you know, that benefits your community. Whatever success I have, is, for one reason, I have an iron, but I get up in the morning, I can sit in that chair, and I can understand the situation before I make the decision. Because I get up at four o’clock to find out how to do it. You just need an iron but in the world to do it.
Right. There is no substitute for hard work and determination.
I haven’t been able to find it. There are no shortcuts that I’ve been able to say, right. I don’t make decisions in City Hall for next year’s election, or the four years from now election. That’s not how we make make decisions. It’s what’s it going to do for the generations that follow? And how do we safeguard it? And how do we make it so that the people that follow us are going to have that same vision of a generational government. I’m kind of hoping Lancaster at the end of the day is going to be the model for that.
I think it’s a shining light and that’s why I’m here is to shine the light a bit more so that people around the state around the country see what a great community leader does and what a great community can do together and the amazing accomplishments that you had. I mean, I remember when I came to California I and coming up to Lancaster was kind of a joke. I mean it was in bad shape. It was horrible, wasn’t it? Yeah, it was.
We had gang killings in Compton, when I was elected, wow, within two years we had done. But you got to be willing to make unpopular decisions. And it took a while for people to accept that. I think the biggest thing in people’s way of developing a society that it could be remarkable, this government. Look where we are today. We’re in a situation now, where every country has access to energy, every country, right? Everybody on this planet now will have access to the greatest education in the world. You know, every morning, I do at least 10 minutes on coursera.com, or edx.com, or I’m taking classes for Michigan, from Harvard from Yale, you know, the best education available is free, free. We should be, we should be going into an age that is beyond our ability to imagine. Instead, we’re fighting for survival. Because of our dependence on fossil fuels,
I am encouraged by the 1000s and 10s of 1000s of great scientists and political people out there that are trying to work for the public good. It’s just challenging, because the structures that are in place, are very difficult to kind of make those changes. The city of Lancaster was fortunate to have you there and be as persuasive as you are to get them to start making those first steps. And then once they made those first steps, they probably trusted to take that next step.
And then the next step, if they’re not making mistakes, I get rid of them. No, seriously, in every other city, you want to be safe, do nothing. To get reelected to nothing. It’s doing things that gets you in trouble that create risk. First couple years was just getting rid of the people unwilling to take risk. But that means you don’t punish it when the mistake if there’s a mistake, you look at it, they make the right decision at that time. That’s what you’re looking at. And if they didn’t, then it’s an education process. It’s not a punishment issue.
Right? What I do, I really am uncomfortable with a great leader idea. And, you know, I just, it doesn’t fit when I hear it, right. Because I didn’t do any of this. All I did was come up with an idea and give it to a staff that is incredibly courageous. And I kept out the people who are the naysayers, those toxic people that have nothing good to say about anything. And I did it very deliberately. If it’s a city event, they’re not invited. Well, there’s no flat literally this, I’m not just saying this, there is a no fly list, these people cannot be invited. If you want the mayor to come to your event, they better not be there. That list was about 40 people, it’s now down to about two or three. They fix their behavior.
You know, it was the system that was causing that behavior because they were getting rewarded for it. Soon as you took those rewards away, they got on board. I don’t care if you agree or disagree with me are totally irrelevant to me. What’s irrelevant to me is are you standing in the way of people who are having great ideas, you know, and you have nothing to offer?
When people young people, I’m trying to get them into politics, you know, and leadership and getting them trained up to do it. They’ll come to me and they want to run for office. And I’ll go why? And they’ll tell me why they are going to benefit from all this. No, no. You know, tell me what you want to do for the city. Tell me what you want to see that you think is realistic that you can accomplish? You know, if you can’t tell me that? No, I’m not investing in you. You know, the very, very few people wanting to go into leadership want to do it for the community. They just want to do it so they can get to Sacramento.
Yeah, if it’s an ego play, that’s the wrong the wrong reason. The right reason is to serve and unfortunately, you see a lot of politicians out there that are not in the service mode, because if they were they wouldn’t be as concerned about their political career. Because you have to be willing to put yourself in a position where you could lose in order to really do a good Your job, because if you don’t, then you’re not really doing it every day, I read the people that are our government, in our friends, they can’t believe what I get away with what I say, and but the reason they don’t throw me out, because they know I believe it. I’m not. I’m not pulling anybody’s chain.
You know, I’m making the tell people, and I believe this. You know, the definition of love is caring about your well being caring about somebody else’s wellbeing. That’s the definition of love. My last speech to the city ended with thank you for letting me love you. Look at the joy you get. You know, that’s where the reward of leadership should be. It is it is in you couldn’t buy it. It the joy I get from this is so much greater than the heartache. No. I mean, there are times I am in danger. You know, I mean, cops are parked out in front of the house. So it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
You know, our next big thing is, I wanted to, you know, I got really into the medicine of all of it, because of COVID. We had, we had fewer deaths than almost any city in the county, we should have had the most, because of our vulnerable population. You know, we had, we had almost the least, but it got me really interested. And so I had these doctors that were deputy mayors. And you know, we had this whole infrastructure built around COVID. I said, lower the mortality, want to lower the mortality rate for the people of Lancaster.
They’ve just come back with a report. You know how you do it. You tell third grade, if their reading level is commensurate with the third grade, when they’re in the third grade, if they’ve had preschool, those people have much longer lifespans. An interesting that is, you know, the there’s a book called upstream, everybody who wants to lead should read it, you know, rescuing the child who’s drowning in the river, is all well and good. But we’ll find out who’s throwing him in the river.
Yeah. I was surprised we’ve had to go so far upstream, to have a really significant impact. But I’m encouraged by the fact that we can have a significant impact. Yeah, we just have to be willing to have a long term investment. But there are there are children today that are now when I got elected the first time who are now voting for me who were in grammar in preschool. It goes by like, right.
Well, it’s it’s amazing the amount of progress that’s been made here in Lancaster, I am a fan of your success. I love to see it spread more widely. Because it’s it’s the kind of leadership that I think America needs the world needs. And so I think that you make a good template for for leaders and communities. And I think that communities would be well served to look at it that it is holistic, that it isn’t just the wrecks. Show. It’s the entire community has rallied around the type of things that you’re throwing out there to them.
And they’ve seen the benefits of it. And and they’ve probably vetted it and said, Hey, Rex, are you sure that we’re going to make money on this? And are you sure and through the Healthy interchange of ideas? You probably came up with even better ideas, because some people said, Hey, women, none of these ideas are my ideas. I read about them. I somebody told me about them at some event. I mean, yeah, I mean, I didn’t graduate from high school. All of my ideas I got from someplace, and neither did I. Neither of us are high school graduates. I bet there’s not 10 lawyers, I can say that. We’re two of them sitting at the same table.
It’s been a great pleasure to have you on the program again, and I think we’ve come to our our time we’ve allotted and maybe even a little bit more, but it certainly went by fast and I greatly appreciate you giving us the time and you know, and I ask everybody who listens in on this to go back, maybe listen to a couple of the other podcasts that Rex and I have done over the years, I think a lot of great material has been covered.
You can check it out on Apple, or Spotify or our own website aclimatechange.com. I invite you to go tune into Rex’s website at Lancaster or his law firm, the Parris Law Firm appearing in Lancaster that does incredible work across the state. I’m always, you know, very, you know, I was gonna say proud of the work that you do. It’s not my work. But I feel like as a fellow plaintiff’s attorney, I like to emulate a lot of the stuff that you do, because I think you do it with heart and with great skill. And I think that that’s, that’s what we should be doing as plaintiffs attorneys, helping people that are, are in difficult situations.
And I’ve seen you do that time and time again, fighting the good fight. And that’s it, it inspires me to reach for the next level myself. So for that, I’m very grateful to to have you as a mentor, and, you know, look forward to continuing this conversation and bringing other people into this conversation, because it’s a conversation, we need to have desperately as a country as a state. And, you know, you’ve you’ve been a hero to me.
Thank you. Just remember the last time there was this much carbon in the atmosphere. There were alligators on the North Pole. Actually northern Canada, but close enough, close enough. So yeah, we need to get with the program. And I invite everybody to be the change you want to see in the world. And I think you’re a great example of that is that you get up every day trying to be that change and being that change, not trying to but actually being that change. And that’s, that’s something that I aspire to every day, and I ask all of our listeners and viewers to to take that same mindset.
Thank you. Thank you.
Hope we get to do it again.
(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)
Help Us Combat Climate Change by Subscribing to our Newsletter!