1ST SESSION H. RES. ll
Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ submitted the following resolution; which was referred to
the Committee on __________
Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create
a Green New Deal.
Whereas the October 2018 report entitled ‘‘Special Report on
Global Warming of 1.5oC’’ by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018
Fourth National Climate Assessment report found that—
Read full Resolution here
February 14, 2019
New York Times
The Green New Deal Is What Realistic Environmental Policy Looks Like
In the 21st century, environmental policy is economic policy.
Everyone is lining up to endorse the Green New Deal — or to mock it. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have all endorsed the resolution sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts.
Conservative critics predictably call it “a shocking document” and “a call for enviro-socialism in America,” but liberal condescension has cut deeper. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, essentially dismissed it as branding, saying, “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” Others have criticized it for leaving out any mention of a carbon tax, a cornerstone of mainstream climate-policy proposals, while embracing a left-populist agenda that includes universal health care, stronger labor rights and a jobs guarantee.
What do these goals have to do with stabilizing atmospheric carbon levels before climate change makes large parts of the world uninhabitable? What has taken liberal critics aback is that the Green New Deal strays so far from the traditional environmental emphasis on controlling pollution, which the carbon tax aims to do, and tries to solve the problems of economic inequality, poverty and even corporate concentration (there’s an antimonopoly clause).
But this everything-and-the-carbon-sink strategy is actually a feature of the approach, not a bug, and not only for reasons of ideological branding. In the 21st century, environmental policy is economic policy. Keeping the two separate isn’t a feat of intellectual discipline. It’s an anachronism.
Our carbon emissions are not mainly about the price of gasoline or electricity. They’re about infrastructure. For every human being, there are over 1,000 tons of built environment: roads, office buildings, power plants, cars and trains and long-haul trucks. It is a technological exoskeleton for the species. Everything most of us do, we do through it: calling our parents, getting to work, moving for a job, taking the family on vacation, finding food for the evening or staying warm in a polar vortex. Just being human in this artificial world implies a definite carbon footprint — and for that matter, a trail of footprints in water use, soil compaction, habitat degradation and pesticide use. You cannot change the climate impact of Americans without changing the built American landscape.
So the proposals to retrofit buildings, retool transportation and build a clean-energy system are simply ways of tackling the problem where it starts. They are public-works projects because large capital projects — especially ones that, like highways, involve widespread public benefit — have always required public money. They are jobs programs, unless robots do the work, so the jobs might as well be good.
The deeper point is that any economic policy is a jobs policy. The oil and gas sector provides at least 1.4 million American jobs, more if you believe industry estimates, and depends on public subsidies and infrastructure. You might say that producing the disaster of global climate change has taken a lot of economic policy and produced a lot of jobs programs. Reversing direction will take the same. Since environmental policy can happen only through economic policy, there is no avoiding decisions about what sorts of work there will be, and in which industries. It’s unsettling, but maybe a little less so when you consider that we’ve been doing it all along, usually without owning up to it.
Take the Green New Deal’s proposal to work with family farmers and ranchers to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture. It might sound like a sop to rural representatives, the locavore caucus of the Democratic Socialists of America, or both. (And that wouldn’t make it wrong.) But food is our everyday metabolism with the natural world, which is why agriculture emits 9 percent of United States carbon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (Other estimates are considerably higher.)
Forty percent of our land is farmed or ranched, which is to say, the soil is basically conscripted as a food factory. The food system is already pervasively shaped by the Farm Bill, which spends nearly $15 billion per year on subsidies and $10 billion on conservation measures, deeply shaping what farmers grow and where, and tending to benefit large, industrially oriented operations. Food production can be much less carbon-intensive with changed practices in cropping, fertilizing, irrigation and waste management, many of them well suited to small farming. Moving in that direction, though, would require rattling the cage of big American agriculture.
As with energy, getting lawmaking involved wouldn’t be new. It has taken years of agricultural policy to get us into this mess. Getting out of it is a question not of whether lawmaking also produces economic policy and jobs, but of what kind.
The Green New Deal isn’t the only approach, of course, but its broad ambitions mark out the ground where future climate fights will happen. Because reshaping our environmental impact means reworking our economy, there will inevitably be competing visions about who deserves to benefit and what kind of economy we should build. Centrist proposals will concentrate on promoting investment in new technologies, with profits going, pharma-style, to private researchers and manufacturers.
If Trumpist nationalism outgrows its climate denialism but survives to fight again, it will double down on supporting national energy industries and denying the ethical responsibilities of global interdependence by building border walls against climate refugees. To the left of the Green New Deal, there will be louder calls to nationalize fossil fuels in order to leave them in the ground. (A carbon tax would be compatible with any of these visions, depending on who paid it and how the revenues were spent.)
Curiously, the idea that environmental policy could ever be separated from the larger economic order, or from fights over fairness, is recent, a product of an unusually technocratic period in American politics. Arguing for the Clean Air Act on Earth Day 1970, Senator Edmund Muskie, Democrat of Maine and the law’s lead drafter, insisted that “man’s environment” included “the shape of the communities in which he lives” and that “the only kind of society that has a chance” was “a society that will not tolerate slums for some and decent houses for others, rats for some and playgrounds for others, clean air for some and filth for others.”
For Senator Muskie, environmentalism meant that no neighborhood or job should be toxic. In the three years that followed, the country adopted the most ambitious and effective environmental legislation in its history, including Mr. Muskie’s Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Muskie’s approach remains a model of visionary environmental lawmaking. Like much new radicalism, the Green New Deal is good sense rediscovered.
Jedediah Britton-Purdy (@JedediahSPurdy) is a professor of law at Columbia and is the author, most recently, of “After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene.”
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February 14, 2019
Sen Pat Toomey Finds Green New Deal Ridiculous
PHILADELPHIA (1210 WPHT)- Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) voiced his grievances with the Green New Deal in an interview with The Chris Stigall Show.
Toomey said it’s hard to believe a proposal for a program “that basically includes eliminating all fossil fuels within an unbelievably short period of time” is taken seriously.
“They are having rallies about this. They’re endorsing it. Every Democratic presidential candidate from the U.S. Senate has endorsed this idea,” said Toomey. “I think we absolutely should have a debate about this and have a vote. Do you really think this is where we should go? Planes can’t fly and cars can’t drive?”
“We can use bicycles, I suppose,” quipped Toomey.
“We want to have the debate in public, in the open, on the Senate floor…and we want it to be followed by a vote so people are accountable…in the senate for what they’re doing? And that, somehow, is avoiding debate? It’s ridiculous,” said Toomey.
What Toomey also finds “ridiculous” are the details of the New Green Deal.
“(The American people) will be appalled,” said Toomey. “And what the Democrats want to do is keep the discussion at the level of Green New Deal. No more specificity than three words because those three words, they focus group pretty well.”
Toomey proceeded to break down what makes the name so appealing to the American public.
“Green is a nice color, New Deal is thought of as a fond memory of FDR. Just keep it at that level and they’re okay.”
When Chris Stigall mentioned the popularity of the deal among the Democratic candidates, Toomey explained their perception.
“It tells you, obviously, that at least their perception of where the energy, where the juice is in the Democratic primary is on the very far left, and they’re all tripping over each other to get there.”