Ed Markey lays out his plan for the next Congress

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today staked out his path on climate change in the next Congress, piling on to the growing coalition of progressives calling for aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In an op-ed published this morning in The Boston Globe, Markey said the midterm elections were a “green wave” that could help “move America toward more forward-thinking energy policy and combat global warming.”

“We will take up comprehensive legislation to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” Markey wrote. “We must seize this opportunity to double down on our commitment to lead the world into the next era of clean energy, fortify and armor our communities to combat the adverse impacts of climate change, and adopt green infrastructure that enhances our communities and protects our environment.”

Those remarks are unsurprising coming from Markey, but the op-ed adds another layer of support for addressing climate change in an infrastructure bill that Democrats hope to push through in the first six months of the new Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a similar pitch in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, demanding that any infrastructure package include provisions to tackle climate change (E&E Daily, Dec. 7).

Markey, for his part, said that for every dollar spent on roads, “we must spend no less than one dollar on 21st-century clean energy, one dollar on more sustainable transportation options, and one dollar on our drinking and wastewater systems.”

Clean energy and climate spending, Markey wrote, should be a “litmus test” for any appropriations bill.

He also called for any tax package to include boosts for renewable energy and electric vehicles, already a priority of Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Markey, who chaired the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming during his time in the House, said he wants the U.S. to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in the next two decades and eliminate fossil fuel exports, mirroring supporters of the progressive “Green New Deal.”

Markey counts himself as part of that coalition. He has endorsed the “Select Committee on a Green New Deal” proposed by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and he suggested in the op-ed he plans to introduce legislation next year to address those priorities.

While the ideas won’t make it through a Republican Senate, they are starting to gain traction with potential Democratic presidential candidates.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a potential 2020 candidate, said Friday that he backs the “Green New Deal,” joining Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), two other potential presidential contenders who have voiced support.

Booker called the work of the Sunrise Movement, the group organizing the grassroots push for a “Green New Deal,” “inspiring.”

The group is hoping to make their platform part of the 2020 conversation and eventually pass a broad piece of legislation if Democrats take power.

On the House side, at least 37 members now support the “Green New Deal” select committee, including key players such as incoming Rules Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

“In the 116th Congress, we will have that chance to make history,” Markey wrote in the op-ed. “We must seize that change. Now is the time for a green New Deal.”