From the start of his time in Congress, Peter talked about carbon pollution and climate change as an existential threat to the planet, and about the economic opportunities of clean, renewable energy sources. 

In 2008, Wall Street gamblers were drooling over the “cap and trade” plan that would create one more barely-regulated, wild-west commodity market, without substantially cutting pollution. Peter and Rep. Jim McDermott (WA) cut through the BS, by  introducing clear, no-loopholes legislation to cap and regulate carbon pollution. Their proposal functioned very similarly to the successful Clean Water Act mandates, setting  a simple cap on carbon. Polluters would be required to stay under that limit, and if they exceeded it, they’d be fined aggressively. 

Later, Peter included similar provisions in his version of the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. His plan called for states to commit to a schedule to reduce their carbon footprint. If they missed their targets, federal funds would be shifted from highways to transit rail, cycling and pedestrian improvements, and public transportation incentives. 

Simple. Effective. So, naturally, it was stripped out by Senators sympathetic to big polluters.

In November 1998, in recognition of his leadership role on climate change on the Natural Resources Committee, Peter was selected as the Democratic House representative to the Kyoto Protocol conference in Buenos Aires. 

The Republicans who controlled Congress at the time scheduled a big press event in Buenos Aires to trash Bill Clinton’s signing of the treaty. Peter refused to let their disinformation go unchallenged, so he staked out a guerilla news conference outside the Republican event. There, he provided the press with scientific facts that undercut the Republicans’ industry-funded talking points.