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Election 2020: Congressional incumbent Scott Peters on the issues

Scott Peters
Scott Peters

Democrat Scott Peters, seeking a fifth term representing California’s 52nd Congressional District, says he’s focused on the environment and issues pertaining immediately to San Diego. 

Peters, a 31-year resident of the San Diego area, is married 34 years with two children.

He practiced environmental law, and also served on the San Diego City Council, as deputy counsel for San Diego County, and on the San Diego Unified Port District.

In Congress, he’s introduced nine bills that became law, mostly through incorporation into other pieces of legislation. He studied at Duke and NYU.


“Climate and the environment are the things I’m interested in,” he told The Coast News. While “there’s no magic bullet,” he favors incremental steps toward developing new technologies and decarbonizing the economy.

Some think “we can snap our fingers and magically switch over to solar and wind tomorrow, and we don’t need any more fossil fuels. That’s just not realistic,” he said. l While moving in that direction, we must “make sure that the existing tools we have are clean”— for example, making gasoline cleaner while the market transitions over time to electric vehicles.

Federal Issues for San Diego

“We spend most time … matching up what’s important to San Diego with what’s happening in Washington,” Peters said. Such intersections include economic relief for a tourism industry hard-hit by COVID, investment to support regional military jobs, federal funding for biotech research, fixing border infrastructure, and legislation enabling a water recycling project.

Housing and Transit

“There’s a huge connection” between the climate and housing, he said. “The way to deal with resource allocation and conservation is to make sure that there’re plenty of [housing] options for people to take advantage of in the city,” reducing pollution-generating commutes.

His Build More Housing Near Transit Act (HR 4307) would make land use policies amendable to housing development a factor in municipalities’ competition for certain federal grants.

“We’re not telling [localities] what to do,” he said. “But if you want a billion dollars from the federal government, it’s legitimate … to ask what you’re going to do to make sure that it’s a good investment.”


“If we’re going to do something on the scale of sending a human to the moon or fighting a world war — we talk about climate change in that kind of frame — we can’t do it by one party, you have to do it together,” he said. “I don’t see bipartisanship as an annoyance, I see it as an objective and a way to get to the right answer.”

He says he’s worked cross-aisle toward carbon capture technology (pumping emissions underground), reducing methane emissions, and funding battery and hydropower research.

National vs. Local Politics

The Coast News observed that national politics seems often to permeate local politics. Responding, Peters said: “I work at the federal level, so [President Trump] is part of my calculus.” Even so, “if we can’t put aside our differences and find what we have in common it’s going to be awfully hard for us to solve problems. Right now, that division in the country does reach from Washington to the school board, and I think it’s not optimal.”