Ocasio-Cortez Aims to Reset Climate Policy With Green New Deal

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks during the third annual Women's March near Columbus Circle in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Two years after millions gathered for the inaugural Women's March, demonstrators around the world march again in solidarity with communities of women and allies who seek to create a future of equality, justice, and compassion for all. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg
By Bloomberg
07 Feb 2019 0

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a sweeping package of environmental measures Thursday that has pitted progressives in the House Democratic caucus against moderates over how far to go in pursuit of resetting the climate change debate.

The proposals, which have come to be known as the Green New Deal, were crafted in conjunction with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Their plan envisions shifting away from fossil fuels and other sources of global warming causing emissions within 10 years.

It has already prompted strong opposition from Republicans and industry leaders who say it’s technologically impossible and will costs tens of trillions of dollars.

Advocacy of stronger environmental laws have been an important part of the agenda of Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and other progressives in the new Congress.

The legislation has been the subject of intense speculation and interest for weeks even as it has no chance of gaining support in the Republican-controlled Senate, let along being sighed into law by President Donald Trump.

Earlier: Democrats Put GOP in Hot Seat With a Month of Climate Hearings

Still, the next steps remain important, as the reception among moderate Democrats and House leaders could act as a bellwether for its future in the 2020 elections, and beyond.

The plan, in the form of a non-binding resolution, weaves together what had been a hodgepodge of progressive proposals and aspirations into a single initiative. It sets a goal of shifting the nation to 100 percent “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” within 10 years. Missing from earlier drafts, however, is a pledge to eliminate fossil fuels altogether — an idea that had put off some moderates.

Some environmental advocacy organizations were disappointed that the fossil fuel pledge had been omitted.

Supporters say the resolution’s measures are needed to advert a coming climate catastrophe already being presaged by devastating storms, raging wildfires and intense heat waves.

Among its provisions:

A dramatic expansion of renewable energy, and energy and water efficiency upgrades for all existing U.S. buildings An overhaul of the country’s transportation system to eliminate pollution and emissions from the sector “as much as technologically feasible,” with a nod to investment in zero-emission vehicles, public transit, and high-speed rail. Efforts to promote clean manufacturing free of pollution byproducts and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as technologically feasible.” Steps to lessen the effects of climate change, build a smart grid, clean up hazardous waste sites and restore threatened lands. DM