Support grows for Green New Deal

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Support has swelled for the progressive “Green New Deal” platform over the last few days, despite an ongoing divide in the House Democratic caucus about how to address climate change in the next Congress.

The proposed resolution from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which would create a new select committee to draft an ambitious plan to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, boost renewables and build a “smart” grid, has rankled some establishment members.

But Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) tweeted yesterday that he welcomes the “urgency” from Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement, which burst onto the advocacy scene last week with a pair of protests in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

Huffman said he would support a Green New Deal and “also keep working on multiple specific, ambitious climate bills I’ve been championing for years. Let’s work together to meet this environmental/economic/moral imperative.”

It’s a notable endorsement in a debate in the caucus that has been largely about process, rather than the substance of the policy. But while Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals have gained more traction with sitting Democrats in recent days, many remain skeptical.

Pallone is perhaps the most notable critic of the proposed select committee. He has said he generally agrees with activists on policy goals, but his objection is that the panel is “unnecessary” and would be less effective than standing committees, such as E&C, which he’s expected to chair come January.

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who’s poised to lead the House Natural Resources Committee, has doubts too.

Grijalva, however, downplayed the clash over the issue Friday and said the sticking point has been whether the global warming panel would get legislative authority (Greenwire, Nov. 16).

Meanwhile, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a vice chair of the Progressive Caucus, took it a step further, suggesting Ocasio-Cortez should chair the new select committee.

“That is the boldness voters want,” he tweeted. “We need to shake up Congress & give the millennial generation a chance to lead.”

Incoming Democratic members Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Deb Haaland of New Mexico have all endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution.

Also, spokeswomen for New York Democratic Reps. José Serrano and Carolyn Maloney confirmed that they support the resolution, and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told activists last week that he supports a Green New Deal.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), vice chairman of the last climate change select committee, told reporters last week that he is “agnostic” on the idea of serving on the select panel, but he later offered praise for the Green New Deal platform, and the Sunrise Movement counts him among the supporters of the revamped select panel.

“I am thrilled to see renewed energy & passion about getting it started again trying to create a #GreenNewDeal to create jobs & help those most impacted by climate disruption & toxic pollution,” he tweeted Friday.

Progressives will continue to make climate change an issue over the next few weeks as discussions in the caucus ramp up behind closed doors.

The Sunrise Movement is holding events around the country tomorrow to push for a Green New Deal as part of a “national day of action.”

And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning a climate change town hall on Capitol Hill on Dec. 3. The event will feature appearances by 350.org founder and author Bill McKibben, actress and activist Shailene Woodley, and Union of Concerned Scientists Director of Climate Science Brenda Ekwurzel.

“The reason we are having this town hall is pretty simple,” Sanders said in a statement. “Unless we take bold and drastic action to address climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, I fear very much that the world we leave for our kids and grandkids will be in much worse shape than the world we live in today.”