The Green New Deal and climate change
Newly seated Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teamed up with veteran Sen. Ed Markey on February 7 to introduce legislation they’ve dubbed the “Green New Deal.” It’s a broad vision laying out the need for the U.S. to react to the realities of climate change.
Critics quickly derided it as “heavy-handed,” “brainless” and unworkable. But to many, the plan, laid out in a 14-page document, makes a lot of sense.
Here’s the heart of it: “It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal, to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers; to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century; to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment; and to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the un-housed, people with disabilities and youth…
There is nothing in the document that says the wealth of the richest people and corporations in the country needs to be protected—that will automatically turn many people against it. But the non-binding resolution has some support, including 60 co-sponsors in the House and nine in the Senate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand among them.
Representatives who serve the Upper Delaware Region, whether they have specifically signed onto the Markey/Ocasio-Cortez resolution or not, have certainly signaled their support for taking immediate strong steps to address climate change.
Congressman Antonio Delgado—who represents Sullivan County—released a column on February 5, explaining that he voted in favor of creating a select committee in the house to address the issue.
“To achieve our shared goals of drastically reduced carbon emissions, we need a menu of policy proposals that can get us there,” he wrote. “Far too often, not enough emphasis is placed on helping workers whose livelihoods will be impacted by the reinvention of our nation’s energy sector. A successful transition must include a clear path for workers in the fossil fuel industry to pursue better paying, longer lasting, new green jobs.”
He continued by saying that he plans to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Energy to conduct a study identifying what green jobs are currently in demand—and will be in demand in the future—in the U.S. energy sector, as well as the skills required to hold those positions. “Distressingly, more than a decade has lapsed since any government agency authored a study of this nature,” he said. “My bill would also establish a pilot program to award grants to community colleges and small businesses to provide job training in accordance with the study’s findings.”
Matt Cartwright, the Congressman who represents Wayne and Pike counties, said at a January 25 town hall meeting that he plans to re-introduce a measure he put forward in the last session to deal with extreme weather caused by climate change.
That measure is called the Preparedness and Risk management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness (PREPARE) Act, “a common-sense solution that will address the need to protect our nation’s assets and citizens from the enormous risks posed by extreme weather by increasing government effectiveness at no cost to the taxpayer.”
The act would create “an interagency oversight council to implement government-wide resilience, preparedness and risk management priorities and ensure proper funding and implementation for these initiatives.” It would also require all 24 federal agencies to plan and prepare responses for extreme weather events.
There are many ideas percolating in Washington D.C. about how to deal with climate change, and growing support to take action to mitigate the issue. With Republicans in control of the White House and the Senate for the next two years, probably no action will be taken at the federal level. At this point, doing nothing should not be an option.