Pelosi stops short of endorsing Green New Deal

Christopher Davidson
February 7, 2019

The resolution is the first formal attempt by politicians to define the scale of legislation to create large government-led investments in clean energy and infrastructure to transform the United States economy.

The panel, which is charged with examining climate change and steps to mitigate it, will include lawmakers with a wide range of tenures, including three freshmen.

The name, Green New Deal, references the New Deal of the 1930s that President Franklin Roosevelt implemented to aid Americans suffering in the Great Depression by embarking on huge government-led infrastructure projects.

"The public is much more aware of the challenge that we face and that is a good thing", Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. Ed Markey, who introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Kamala Harris of California; Elizabeth Warren of MA; and Cory Booker of New Jersey have also broadly endorsed the idea behind the Green New Deal. Pelosi also named the nine Democratic members of the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis - and notably left Ocasio-Cortez off the list. The Trump administration does not believe action on climate change is necessary and is focused on increasing production of oil, gas and coal on federal and private land. Pelosi wants this panel to work on educating people on the issue; she has already said it won't write any bills, at least not in this session.

It envisions a 10-year mobilization that would upgrade and expand power sources and power grids to meet 100 percent of power demand via clean energy sources, as well as overhauling transport systems to "eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible".

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It also calls for new projects to modernise U.S. transportation infrastructure, de-carbonise the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, make buildings and homes more energy efficient and increase land preservation.

The California Democrat did agree to launch a select committee on climate change, similar to the one she created back in 2007, when she first became speaker.

The Green New Deal also aims to create an economic safety net for "front-line" communities that will be affected by a radical shift away from fossil fuel use. It was not clear how the programs would be funded.

The Green New Deal was put into the media spotlight by a youth coalition called the Sunrise Movement and Ocasio-Cortez, 29, the youngest woman to serve in Congress.

It also picked up the support Thursday of former Vice President Al Gore, who released a statement saying it marked "the beginning of a crucial dialogue on climate legislation in the U.S". However, many Democrats including a number of 2020 presidential hopefuls have expressed their support for a "Green New Deal".

"They will not accept vague endorsements", he said. But the freshman congresswoman from NY introduced a Green New Deal resolution on Thursday that is already emerging as a key policy test for 2020 Democratic candidates.

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