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What Exactly Is the ‘Green New Deal’?

Federal Legislation, Florida, Green Jobs, Opinions, Policy, Sustainability
November 26, 2018

by Hannah Northey (E&E News Climatewire)  The proposal, drawing inspiration from President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era New Deal, is one that progressives — led by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a rising star on the left — want Democratic leaders to embrace.

The thinking is that a newly revived Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in the House would produce a draft of the plan by Jan., 1, 2020, and finalized legislation no later than March 1, 2020.

The scope of the plan, laid out on Cortez’s campaign website, is cast as a work in progress. House leaders would be able to review the results of investigations and studies, along with detailed findings and interim recommendations. And there’s time for collaboration.

Pushing the proposal is the youth-driven Sunrise Movement, a growing grassroots movement that’s taken over the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California this week and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey today.

Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the group, told E&E News earlier this week that progressives are calling on Pelosi to start building consensus around the ideas. That way, Democrats can move quickly if they regain power in 2021 and beyond (Climatewire, Nov. 14).

And yet disagreement is brewing, even among those eager to tackle climate change policy. Also outstanding are specifics on what programs would be included in a Green New Deal and how Congress and the federal government would pay for the plan.

The plan would also call for “funding massive investment” in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases, but the proposal hasn’t outlined the specifics of how to do that.

In addition to boosting clean energy and exports, the plan would also lay out a national jobs program.

Specifically, the plan calls for “training and education to be a full and equal participant in the transition, including through a national “job guarantee program” to “assure every person who wants one, a living wage job.”    READ MORE

Climate Report Divides (Politico’s Morning Energy)

Fossil fuel for thought: (Politico’s Morning Energy 11/27/18)

FOR YOUR RADAR: (Politico’s Morning Energy 11/30/18)

DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Carlos Curbelo doesn’t care what you think (E&E News)

Inside the Sunrise Movement (it didn’t happen by accident) (E&E News)

Progressives say dire climate reports point to need for ‘Green New Deal’ (The Hill)

Letter: New legislators need to protect farmers, fuel standards (Daily Journal (Indiana))

LABOR OF LOVE: (Politico’s Morning Energy)

The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda (The Hill)

HAWK NOT DOVE: (Politico’s Morning Energy)

A Green New Deal: A Progressive Vision for Environmental Sustainability and Economic Stability (Source: Data for Progress)

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy:  On the other side of the aisle, Republicans grappled with their own next steps. Sen. Mike Lee told “Meet the Press” that he was looking for “public policies that could be brought forward that would address the problem they’re addressing, without simultaneously devastating the U.S. economy.” He told host Chuck Todd he was not open to a carbon tax, and that “if we’re going to move away from fossil fuels, it’s got to be done through innovation. And innovation can be choked out through excessive government regulation. We can’t let that happen.” Fellow Republican Ben Sasse on Sunday also called for innovative ways to combat climate change, but said that he is not seeing any from lawmakers who have pushed climate change as their No. 1 issue.  READ MORE

 

 Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy 11/27/18:  Friends of the Earth, Sunrise Movement, 350.org and a raft of other environmental groups are urging lawmakers to reject fossil fuel money and stop climate change, echoing the goals lined up in progressives’ “Green New Deal.” They write: “We call upon all House Democrats competing for leadership positions, Committee Chairs, and membership on the proposed Select Committee on Climate Change or the Select Committee on the Green New Deal to take the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.”   READ MORE

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy 11/30/18:  Michigan GOP Rep. Dave Trott on Thursday signed on as a co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 7173 (115)), the first bipartisan carbon-pricing legislation, which was introduced this week, the Citizens Climate Lobby said. Trott’s addition brings the bill up to six co-sponsors.

ON BOARD: Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard became the 16th House Democrat on Thursday to back the resolution that would create a new committee tasked with crafting legislation on a Green New Deal to quickly decarbonize the U.S., Anthony reportsREAD MORE

 

Excerpt from E&E News:  The eco-right views the Floridian as the fallen hero of its cause, the prime example of a Republican willing to speak out on climate, while progressive groups, by and large, see him as a phony.

Like him or hate him, Curbelo has changed the face of the climate debate in Congress, even if he’s not willing to admit it.

While the Republican House has largely failed to move the policy needle on climate change during his time there, Curbelo’s moves on the issue often had a snowball effect, allowing more GOP lawmakers to grow comfortable talking about climate science.

Curbelo sees himself as an example of how Republicans can change. He voted for a version of the same resolution in 2016 before rejecting it this time around and introducing his own carbon tax bill, the “MARKET CHOICE Act,” just a few days later.

If lawmakers and activists are truly worried about addressing climate change, they’ll look for bipartisan solutions rather than pushing for Democrats to do something alone, Curbelo said.

Curbelo took that to the next level this year, introducing the first Republican-led carbon tax bill in a decade (Greenwire, July 23).

The bill was something to bring home to constituents in the climate-vulnerable Florida Keys over the August recess as he faced a tough re-election battle in a district President Trump lost by 16 points in 2016.

But Curbelo was ultimately ousted by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in an unusual race that saw the National Republican Congressional Committee run an ad attacking the Democrat for allegedly taking money from coal interests (E&E News PM, Nov. 1).

Curbelo said he thinks another Republican will reintroduce his bill, which would tax carbon at $24 per ton and use the cash to help fund the Highway Trust Fund, among other things, in the next Congress.

“I hope that members of both parties can compromise before the financial and insurance markets impose a solution because that’s what’s going to happen, ultimately,” he added.

Curbelo said he expects fellow Florida Rep. Francis Rooney to lead the Republican side of the Solutions Caucus in the next Congress, though observers see Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania as another candidate for the role.

Both Fitzpatrick and Rooney are co-sponsors on Curbelo’s carbon tax bill, as well as the bipartisan carbon fee and dividend measure rolled out earlier this week (E&E Daily, Nov. 28).

“We are running out of time on the environment, but that doesn’t mean the world’s going to end and become a ball of fire. I reject alarmism,” Curbelo said. “But it does mean that areas like South Florida and southern Louisiana and South Carolina and of course any island out there in the world is going to face some major challenges and possibly become uninhabitable. This is a big deal.”

Curbelo plans to stay in the climate advocacy world once he formally leaves Congress in January. It’s one of a handful of issues he wants to stay in the ring on, including cannabis and immigration reform. READ MORE

 

Excerpt from E&E News: The birth of the Sunrise Movement started with a small grant, a lot of Monster Energy drinks and a little help from the Sierra Club.

Whether it can turn the buzz surrounding it into actual change will depend on how much its young leaders have learned from the fizzled Occupy Wall Street movement — and the degree to which the country is ready to embrace its ambitious vision of a wholesale transformation of U.S. society.

Co-founder Evan Weber, 26, thinks that it is.

The next was his participation in the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, which held the public’s attention for about a month as protesters tried to raise awareness about income inequality.

“Ever since that moment I knew in my soul that if we were ever going to take action on climate change in this country, that we were going to have to do something like that,” he said.

The third was his friendship with Matthew Lichtash, another Wesleyan student who also was studying economics and environmental policies.

With the help of green activist Michael Dorsey, a visiting professor at the time, the three landed a $30,000 grant to spend summer 2013 writing a plan on how to save the world from climate change.

Lichtash said the Sierra Club allowed them to use its Washington office near Union Station as a home base to craft an environmental action plan that was “commensurate with the scale of the climate crisis.”

“It wasn’t lost on us that this was incredibly ambitious,” Lichtash said.

The result was a roughly 35-page treatise that relied heavily on carbon taxes — an idea that Weber recently mentioned in connection with his pitch for a “Green New Deal” (Climatewire, Nov. 19).

Other suggestions ran the gamut, including a phaseout of fossil fuel leases on federal lands and the creation of a blue ribbon panel to address the climate crisis, Lichtash said.

That led to the creation of a group called the U.S. Climate Plan that Weber said was incorporated in January 2014.

For Jaye (Dyanna Jaye, 26, Sunrise’s campaign director), global warming is a local problem. She grew up in Hampton Roads, Va., where nuisance flooding is common. “Every time a storm hit, we had weeks off from school,” she said.

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2015, Jaye was in Paris that winter for the international climate summit, where she led a youth contingent pushing to zero out fossil fuel emissions by 2050.

Before the final agreement was drawn up, Jaye and her peers had a problem: United Nations rules banned certain types of visual demonstration. So they drew zeros in black-and-white paint around their eyes instead.

Some of the architects of the Sunrise Movement included activists from organizations such as 350.org — which also provided some early financial support.

Among the co-founders were Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash. Both came from the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network, whose goal was to pressure universities and other institutions to divest from the oil and gas industry — often in a public fashion akin to the protest outside Pelosi’s office.

Yet both said they were unsatisfied in the progress they were making, and each viewed the tumultuous 2016 elections — which saw the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump from different ends of the political spectrum — as proof that a change in direction was needed.

The Sunrise group’s first appearance was a climate protest in Washington, where the team canvassed attendees to build support.

That helped lay the groundwork for a major calling card of the group — what it calls Sunrise Semesters.

“When we launched the movement, our first major task [was] to build an army of young people to make climate change matter in the 2018 elections,” Weber said.

Supporters would join the group for several months — a semester — as if they were on a traditional political campaign. The first attempt yielded about 85 folks who worked across five states during the 2018 elections.

A big social presence was also key.

The group hasn’t shied away from its millennial roots either. A fundraising drive on its website encourages its backers to “sponsor a millennial to fight for you.”

“We are giving our time, but we need your help to pay basic living expenses” is the pitch. A donation of $800 sponsors a millennial for a month; $4,800 equals six months.

Sunrise Movement is relatively small. Its officials said they have about 16 full-time staff and that they’ve raised about $1 million since its founding.

The group rents space from the Sierra Club in Washington, though officials in both groups said Sunrise is independent.

Weber said the Sunrise Movement received a $50,000 grant from the Sierra Club Foundation.

Mainstream groups are too complacent and unwilling to press party leadership to accept the gravity of the climate crisis, said RL Miller, director of Climate Hawks Vote.

“Sunrise has succeeded in getting climate front and center where those groups have failed, if they were trying at all,” she said.

Sunrise’s stance directly counters the bipartisan, incremental progress approach advocated by the Climate Solutions Caucus, which operates under the view that only cross-party collaboration will yield climate legislation. The group hasn’t convinced GOP members to vote accordingly.

Caucus co-founder Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, perhaps the most prominent Republican who supports climate action, called Sunrise’s tactics “truly deplorable” (Climatewire, Nov. 19).

“I don’t think those groups contribute very much,” said Curbelo. “The solution to this is bipartisan compromise.”

Looking ahead

But Curbelo will be gone when the new Congress begins. And Sunrise’s “Green New Deal” has gone from a fringe proposal to one that’s endorsed by nearly 20 members of the new Democratic Congress in a matter of weeks. One of those to sign on is California Rep. Ro Khanna (D) ….

The group intends to press candidates to support the “Green New Deal” and sign the no-fossil-fuel-money pledge. Those who do not can expect opposition and protests.

On the flip side, any candidate who wins the backing of Sunrise would get an injection of energy from a fast-growing, youth-driven organization.   READ MORE

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy:Green New Deal supporters are courting labor unions in hopes of building a bigger base of support both on and off the Hill, Pro’s Zack Colman and Anthony Adragna report. The outreach and tweaks to a resolution calling for a Green New Deal helped assuage concerns shared by Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan, who say they want to ensure people living in economies dominated by fossil fuel companies aren’t left out of environmentalists’ plan for shifting the country off those energy sources.

Language reflecting that issue is being added to Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution calling for a select committee for a Green New Deal, which advocates want to write legislative text by 2020 for decarbonizing the U.S. economy, Ocasio-Cortez’s office confirmed. Pocan told ME he thought it was a good move. “We need recognition that we’re going to have to do a transition with jobs if this is going to happen, which is a good thing,” he said.

Jayapal told ME that she and Pocan would endorse the Green New Deal today, and that assurances on workers’ transition efforts and a promise that any legislation would still need to move through traditional committees sealed her support. Confusion about that latter point has caused some consternation for senior Democrats, including incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, who want to maintain the current committee structure. But Jayapal doubted it would persuade skeptics like Pallone. “But I hope people will understand that we are trying to leverage the excitement of the movement but at the same time have it be clear that we deeply respect those committees and the chairmanships,” she said.

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy:  ME caught up with Senate Democratic climate hawk Brian Schatz, who strongly backed efforts in the House to embrace a Green New Deal and urged his party not to worry about attack ads when crafting policy (he said they’re coming anyway).

On the push for a new climate committee that’s causing tension within the caucus: “Tension’s good. Easy for me to say because it’s not my committees of jurisdiction that are getting challenged, but I don’t worry that the ranking members who have been doing this work for a number of years are going to be undermined. They should view this as reinforcements.”

On attack ads over policy: “They’re going to run their ads whether there’s a select committee or not, whether there’s a Green New Deal or not. … They’re running an old playbook and it certainly works in some places, but fewer and fewer by the day.”

Why he’s pumped by youths’ energy on the climate: “I’m thrilled at their determination and their realism, because they understand that this is the greatest challenge of our generation and that it requires ferocity, determination, moral clarity and, perhaps above all, ambition.”  READ MORE

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