With the 2018 elections the USA elected a sweeping change in Congress, lots of new Representatives elected in the Democratic Party many touting a proudly Progressive line. Perhaps the boldest one is also the youngest, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new Representative from Bronx/Queens. One of Ocasio-Cortez’s key proposals is the Green New Deal, and yesterday AOC and Rep. Markey jointly introduced a non-binding resolution, Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal. As a non-binding resolution it doesn’t set in motion any policy, but the effect is clearly to draw a line in the sand.
For the text see Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal over on greentransportation.info.
Before getting to proposals, the resolution notes these rationales:
- Humans are causing climate change
- Predicted disasters of all kinds, rising sea levels, food shortages, massive wildfires and more
- Mass migration away from most affected areas
- Trillions of dollars of economic damage to the USA alone
- The USA disproportionately emits greenhouse gasses
- Declining life expectancy coupled with increased pollution
- 4+ decades of economic stagnation, especially for those at the low end of the totem pole
- Environmental problems disproportionally affecting the poor and racially marginalized (systemic injustices)
- Direct threat to national security of the USA (and everywhere else)
Having recognized all that, the resolution envisions something akin to the New Deal that brought the USA out of the Great Depression. It’s a different kind of New Deal, one focused on green technology, green jobs, and a reinvention of the energy and transportation sectors. All the new technologies and new businesses will create economic wealth and prosperity.
This may sound familiar. It sounds like 10 years ago when President Obama and Van Jones were pushing similar ideas. I’ve also found when searching for “Green New Deal” that Green Party websites show up, so there must be an existing Green Party proposal going by the same name.
If we get to the Proposals – the resolution calls for a 10-year mobilization, hence the timeline is to accomplish a lot by 2030.
- Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
- Build resiliency against climate disasters
- Eliminate pollution as much as technologically feasible
- Guarantee access to clean water
- Ensure any Infrastructure bill passed in Congress address climate change
- Meet 100% of USA energy needs with clean renewable energy
- Energy efficiency
- Building a distributed “smart grid”
- Building upgrades for efficiency and smart energy use
- Requiring new buildings to have efficiency and smart energy use
- Clean energy in manufacturing industries
- Work with farmers to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible
- Zero emissions transportation infrastructure, and manufacturing
- High speed rail
- Clean affordable mass transit systems
- Mitigating the negative impacts of pollution such as health impacts
- Restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions that rebuild the soil
- Restoring and protecting sensitive ecosystems
- Cleaning up existing hazardous waste sites
This doesn’t include specific proposals, but hey it’s a non-binding resolution. In such a resolution they get to dream big without having the responsibility to come up with a practical plan to implement all that. Yes all this would be fabulous, but we have to recognize there are powerful interests who’ve proven themselves willing to commit crimes to keep the above from happening.
Again, all this sounds just like the Green Jobs Revolution promised by President Obama 10 years ago. We saw what happened to Van Jones when he was demonized and evicted from Washington DC.
Is this going to go anywhere? Sure it’ll pass in the House of Representatives. But will the Senate even bring it for a vote? Even as a nonbinding resolution, I doubt the Senate with its current leadership (Mitch McConnell is a big Friend of Coal) will do anything to endorse such ideas.
Therefore the best to hope for this resolution is to demonstrate to the public the stance of the Republican Party. That there are powerful forces in Washington DC who want to squash anything of this sort.
The resistance to the idea isn’t limited to Republicans. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has come out against the idea (according to CNN). That may be due to a power struggle between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez. Pelosi recognizes AOC’s star power, but has made several moves to limit her reach.
The Sierra Club posted an analysis in November based on an earlier draft of the proposal. Their bottom line is we shouldn’t get too excited because this is just an outline of a possibility that might get some possible attention someday. Color them jaded, I suppose?
In the meantime – the resolution notes the increase of wildfires as a big risk. I’ll note that over the last 10 years California has seen a huge uptick in wildfires. Massive wildfires, in 2017 a wildfire destroyed a large part of Santa Rosa, and in 2018 a wildfire destroyed Paradise CA. The latter fire left 10’s of thousands of people homeless, living in tents in a parking lot with encroaching, making us think of Climate Refugees.
The good thing is many of these ideas are already being developed. For example the cost for renewable energy (wind, solar, etc) is falling rapidly and becoming directly economically viable. Efforts are underway to implement the smart grid technologies required to implement renewable energy as a 24/7 grid resource while also improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
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