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A congresswoman says climate activism doesn’t stop at getting people elected

Rashida Tlaib appears on Zoom in a beige mock turtleneck ribbed sweater in a room with white walls.
Leona Larson
Rashida Tlaib spoke to Western Michigan University's Climate Change Working group over Zoom on March 21 as part of Climate Emergency Month.

A U.S. Congresswoman from Michigan tells climate activists in Kalamazoo to push harder on environmental issues.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-southwest Detroit, speaking on Zoom, told Western Michigan University’s Climate Change Working Group Tuesday what she told President Biden soon after he was elected.

“I'm not going to probably be your favorite member of Congress, primarily because I'm on a different timeline. And he kind of looks and smiles and I said to President Biden at that time, my residents don't have another year, another month, another day, to live in this in this kind of environment.”

Tlaib was talking about the place she grew up, industrial southwest Detroit. She represents the area now, the 12th Congressional District.

The congresswoman said people who were worried about the climate fought to get Democrats in the White House and Congress.

“And I feel like after we got them there, we're not talking to them as aggressively as we should.”

Last week Tlaib criticized the Biden administration for approving a massive new oil drilling project. The Willow Project will allow oil drilling on federal land in Alaska. She said this decision should serve to remind activists that this is no time to be complacent.

“President Biden is not our destination, he's the door, he's the door to get to where our destination is, which is obviously living in a world free of this kind of, you know, harm and hurt for our communities,” Tlaib said.

Leona Larson (Gould-McElhone) was a complaint investigator with the Detroit Consumer Affairs Department when she started her media career producing and co-hosting Consumer Conversation with Esther Shapiro for WXYT-Radio in Detroit while freelancing at The Detroit News and other local newspapers. Leona joined WDIV-TV in Detroit as a special projects' producer and later, as an investigative producer. She spent several years teaching journalism for the School of Communications at Western Michigan University. Leona prefers to use her middle name on air because it's shorter and easier to pronounce.