Green New Deal Resolution Launches With 61 Representatives, 13 Senators as Co-Sponsors

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 09 Feb 2019 06:45:00 GMT

Following Thursday’s announcement of the Green New Deal Ocasio-Markey resolution, supporters have announced several dozen co-sponsors, including 61 members of the House of Representatives (two non-voting) and 9 U.S. senators.

The list, from Justice Democrats, is below:


  • House Sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14)
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-03)
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA-02)
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-05)
  • Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA-06)
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13)
  • Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA-17)
  • Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18)
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24)
  • Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33)
  • Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA-41)
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43)
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47)
  • Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA-49)
  • Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51)
  • Rep. John Larson (D-CT-01)
  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT-02)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03)
  • Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC-AL)
  • Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20)
  • Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26)
  • Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL-04)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-05)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09)
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-02)
  • Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA-03)
  • Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-06)
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07)
  • Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-08)
  • Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-09)
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08)
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01)
  • Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI-09)
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13)
  • Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04)
  • Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-MP-AL)
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12)
  • Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM-01)
  • Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05)
  • Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-06)
  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10)
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12)
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13)
  • Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY-15)
  • Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16)
  • Rep. Sean P Maloney (D-NY-18)
  • Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-26)
  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01)
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04)
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA-02)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09)
  • Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16)
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20)
  • Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA-11)
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT-AL)
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07)
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI-02)


Senate Sponsor Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

FULL TEXT: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey Release Green New Deal Resolution

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:11:00 GMT

In front of the U.S. Capitol building, Rep. Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today announced the introduction of resolution “recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal” that builds a just, full-employment economy to stop global warming.

The resolution now has 64 original co-sponsors in the House and 9 in the Senate.

The full text of the resolution (PDF) is below:

Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

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 1.5°C’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report found that—
  1. human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century;
  2. a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure;
  3. global warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius beyond preindustrialized levels will cause—
    1. mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change;
    2. more than $500,000,000,000 in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100;
    3. wildfires that, by 2050, will annually burn at least twice as much forest area in the western United States than was typically burned by wildfires in the years preceding 2019;
    4. a loss of more than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth;
    5. more than 350,000,000 more people to be exposed globally to deadly heat stress by 2050; and
    6. a risk of damage to $1,000,000,000,000 of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States; and
  4. global temperatures must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate, which will require—
    1. global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030; and
    2. net-zero emissions by 2050;
Whereas, because the United States has historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014, and has a high technological capacity, the United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation; Whereas the United States is currently experiencing several related crises, with—
  1. life expectancy declining while basic needs, such as clean air, clean water, healthy food, and adequate health care, housing, transportation, and education, are inaccessible to a significant portion of the United States population;
  2. a 4-decade trend of economic stagnation, deindustrialization, and antilabor policies that has led to—
    1. hourly wages overall stagnating since the 1970s despite increased worker productivity;
    2. the third-worst level of socioeconomic mobility in the developed world before the Great Recession;
    3. the erosion of the earning and bargaining power of workers in the United States; and
    4. inadequate resources for public sector workers to confront the challenges of climate change at local, State, and Federal levels; and
  3. the greatest income inequality since the 1920s, with—
    1. the top 1 percent of earners accruing 91 percent of gains in the first few years of economic recovery after the Great Recession;
    2. a large racial wealth divide amounting to a difference of 20 times more wealth between the average White family and the average Black family; and
    3. a gender earnings gap that results in women earning approximately 80 percent as much as men, at the median;
Whereas climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices (referred to in this preamble as ‘‘systemic injustices’’) by disproportionately affecting indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this preamble as ‘‘frontline and vulnerable communities’’); Whereas, climate change constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States—
  1. by impacting the economic, environmental, and social stability of countries and communities around the world; and
  2. by acting as a threat multiplier;
Whereas the Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal created the greatest middle class that the United States has ever seen, but many members of frontline and vulnerable communities were excluded from many of the economic and societal benefits of those mobilizations; and Whereas the House of Representatives recognizes that a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal is a historic opportunity—
  1. to create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States;
  2. to provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; and
  3. to counteract systemic injustices:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—
  1. it is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal—
    1. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
    2. to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
    3. to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
    4. to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—
      1. clean air and water;
      2. climate and community resiliency;
      3. healthy food;
      4. access to nature; and
      5. a sustainable environment; and
    5. to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as ‘‘frontline and vulnerable communities’’);
  2. the goals described in subparagraphs (A) through (E) of paragraph (1) (referred to in this resolution as the ‘‘Green New Deal goals’’) should be accomplished through a 10-year national mobilization (referred to in this resolution as the ‘‘Green New Deal mobilization’’) that will require the following goals and projects—
    1. building resiliency against climate change-related disasters, such as extreme weather, including by leveraging funding and providing investments for community-defined projects and strategies;
    2. repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States, including—
      1. by eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible;
      2. by guaranteeing universal access to clean water;
      3. by reducing the risks posed by flooding and other climate impacts; and
      4. by ensuring that any infrastructure bill considered by Congress addresses climate change;
    3. meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources, including—
      1. by dramatically expanding and upgrading existing renewable power sources; and
      2. by deploying new capacity;
    4. building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘‘smart’’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity;
    5. upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification;
    6. spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible, including by expanding renewable energy manufacturing and investing in existing manufacturing and industry;
    7. working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including—
      1. by supporting family farming;
      2. by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health; and
      3. by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food;
    8. overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in—
      1. zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing;
      2. clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and
      3. high-speed rail;
    9. mitigating and managing the long-term adverse health, economic, and other effects of pollution and climate change, including by providing funding for community-defined projects and strategies;
    10. removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reducing pollution, including by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions that increase soil carbon storage, such as preservation and afforestation;
    11. restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems through locally appropriate and science-based projects that enhance biodiversity and support climate resiliency;
    12. cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites to promote economic development and sustainability;
    13. identifying other emission and pollution sources and creating solutions to eliminate them; and
    14. promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action, and to help other countries achieve a Green New Deal;
  3. a Green New Deal must be developed through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses; and
  4. to achieve the Green New Deal goals and mobilization, a Green New Deal will require the following goals and projects—
    1. providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing), technical expertise, supporting policies, and other forms of assistance to communities, organizations, Federal, State, and local government agencies, and businesses working on the Green New Deal mobilization;
    2. ensuring that the Federal Government takes into account the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of emissions through—
      1. existing laws;
      2. new policies and programs; and
      3. ensuring that frontline and vulnerable communities shall not be adversely affected;
    3. providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities, so those communities may be full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobilization;
    4. making public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries;
    5. directing investments to spur economic development, deepen and diversify industry in local and regional economies, and build wealth and community ownership, while prioritizing high-quality job creation and economic, social, and environmental benefits in frontline and vulnerable communities that may otherwise struggle with the transition away from greenhouse gas intensive industries;
    6. ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level;
    7. ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition;
    8. guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States;
    9. strengthening and protecting the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment;
    10. strengthening and enforcing labor, workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors;
    11. enacting and enforcing trade rules, procurement standards, and border adjustments with strong labor and environmental protections—
      1. to stop the transfer of jobs and pollution overseas; and
      2. to grow domestic manufacturing in the United States;
    12. ensuring that public lands, waters, and oceans are protected and that eminent domain is not abused;
    13. obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people for all decisions that affect indigenous people and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous people, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous people;
    14. ensuring a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies; and
    15. providing all people of the United States with—
      1. high-quality health care;
      2. affordable, safe, and adequate housing;
      3. economic security; and
      4. access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.

New Climate Committee Chair: Priorities Include Fuel Economy, Flood Insurance

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Jan 2019 15:39:00 GMT

“We are in a race against time,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), the incoming chair of the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, told reporters. In an interview with USA Today’s Ledyard King, Castor highlighted not just the urgency of the climate crisis but also her interest in pursuing new fuel economy standards and flood insurance reform, practical policy problems that have remained stalled under the Republican Congress and Trump administration.

While not enforcing a band on fossil-fuel contributions for members of the committee, Castor has pledged that she will not accept such donations as chair to “help build confidence in the committee.”

Castor’s plans come in the context of the vigorous push by youth climate activists and new members of Congress for an ambitious Green New Deal, that arguably would build on elements of President Obama’s economic stimulus package of 2009.

“There’s some fabulous proposals in the Green New Deal, and I’m excited about all that. You may see some similar language. Clearly, the focuses are going to be the same,” Castor told The Hill. “This will be a committee clearly in the spirit of the Green New Deal.”

“People don’t understand how forward-leaning the stimulus was on climate issues,” Castor told Michael Grunwald in a Politico interview. “It’s a road map for a Green New Deal.”

More highlights of Rep. Castor’s interview with The Hill’s Timothy Cama:
“I’m hoping that folks will come to this committee ready to take on the corporate polluters and special interests. There shouldn’t be a purity test, that if a member of Congress has ever accepted contributions,” she said.

Castor said she has decided not to take any donations from fossil fuel companies.

“I think me saying that right now will help build confidence in the committee,” she said, noting that such a pledge won’t be a “huge sacrifice,” since she has received just about $2,000 in campaign donations from the oil and natural gas industries during 12 years in office.

Full interview with USA Today:
Q: Much of the information on climate change is out there. So what do you hope to accomplish with this new committee?

Castor: We’re going to press for dramatic carbon pollution reduction. We want to win the clean energy future to defend the American way of life and avoid catastrophic and costly weather events that have dire impacts.

Q: What are some of the issues you want to pursue and how will you work with the standing congressional committees to achieve them?

Castor: Right off the bat, we will tackle fuel economy standards, make sure the Commerce Committee and the (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) are focused on that. The Financial Services Committee has to do a flood insurance reform bill. We will be involved in that as well.

Q: You mentioned flood insurance. Representing a coastal district, you know what flooding and storms can do. Should we rebuild along the shore?

Castor: We shouldn’t be insuring at taxpayer expense homes and businesses that have been destroyed repeatedly on the shore. Folks know full well that they’re in hurricane’s path or flood’s path and they do that on their own. I’m concerned the (flood) maps are not up-to-date, that states and local communities are not acting fast enough to adopt policies to revise maps.

Q: Is there a concern you may getting in the way of standing committees who are already charged with environmental protection and climate change issues?

Castor: No, we’re going to be complimentary. This is a collaborative effort. It’s just being elevated because the threat to our way of life is at stake. It’s all hands on deck.

Q: What’s your response to Republicans who say the panel will be stacked with Democrats and have too much latitude to go after issues beyond its scope?

Castor: Look, we’ve had so much delay and Republicans have had their heads in the sand here in the Congress. I’ve just been through a time in the minority on (the) Energy and Commerce (Committee) where they refused to have even one hearing on the climate or hear any legislation dealing with the escalating cost of climate of extreme weather events. And I do see our jurisdiction as being very broad. We’re talking about the planet.

Q: How will the committee go about highlighting the consequences of climate change?

Castor: We intend to tell the stories of communities that are taking action despite the inaction from the Congress and the Trump administration. There are some conservative, rural areas that are going renewable and reducing carbon pollution and we’re going to shine a light on their good work. And for bad actors that know better, we intend to make sure they’re famous as well.

Q: Even if the House passes ambitious measures, their chance of becoming law is slim given the positions of the president and the Senate. So why try?

Castor: We don’t have time to wait. Whatever we can press to accomplish as soon as possible, we will do that.

Interview with Politico Pro:

Q: There’s obviously been a lot said about what others would like the committee to be. What is your vision for what the select committee will accomplish?

CASTOR: I would like to have a blend of experience and new freshman members. Their transformative energy [that] they’re bringing to the Congress, it must be reflected on the climate crisis select committee.

Q:How quickly are you looking to fill those lawmaker slots and where will you be drawing your staff from?

CASTOR: We’re accepting some resumes, but I’m looking for scientists. I’m looking for folks who understand public policy. Maybe some people who have experience with the precursor to the New Green Deal, back when we did the Recovery Act and we did [the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009], because within those there are kind of the fundamental building blocks for what we have to do for drastic reductions in carbon pollution.

Q:What do you make of the basic outlines of the Green New Deal and what do you say to progressives disappointed with how the committee is structured in the end?

CASTOR: They shouldn’t be. This is a select committee on the climate crisis that is the spirit of the New Green Deal. When you look at the New Green Deal, they’re terrific general proposals and language. Our job now is to take that and put it into action: through law, through appropriations. The mechanics of that will be very labor intensive.

You said who should come onto this committee? It will be people who are ready to work very diligently. We simply don’t have time to delay.

Q:What’s the select committee’s role in policy formation?

CASTOR: We’re going to be a focal point for pressing for action. I know it’s been criticized we don’t have legislative authority. I would have liked to have had legislative authority — I asked the leadership for subpoena power and legislative authority. But in our discussions now, we will be the focal point for pressing all the committees to act. For example, the Energy and Commerce Committee: They have such a huge portfolio — I know, I’m on there. We’re going to be a group of members who are pressing them to have hearings and markups that need to put the carbon reduction policies into action, into law.

Q:And what might that dynamic look like?

CASTOR: Particularly on the subpoena power part. [Now-Sen.] Ed Markey, the previous select committee chair, they only used the subpoena power once. We’re going to work very closely with the standing committees if we ever need to subpoena anything. I’m not sure yet [if we will].

It’s very apparent the damage that the Trump administration is doing. There’s no secret to that. But this committee is going to be one that is going to press right away for [strengthened] fuel economy standards to challenge the Trump administration. I would foresee us passing a bill on that fairly early on in the Congress, so you have to work with E&C on that. Appropriations will be very important. Back to the Recovery Act — remember the investments we put in for ARPA-E and for energy efficiency grants back to local communities.

I also want the committee to highlight the good work that’s being done in … cities and towns all around the country. Since we know the Trump administration and the GOP Senate are going [to be] kind of a roadblock to very dramatic action, we want to highlight what’s being done in Republican communities and Democratic communities across the country where they are reducing carbon dramatically.

Q:Obviously the Democratic caucus is pretty diverse. There are some members who come from more fossil fuel producing states. How do you make sure you don’t leave anybody behind in the conversation?

CASTOR: You know, that’s one thing I appreciate about the general framework of the Green New Deal is the emphasis on making sure vulnerable communities are not saddled with the cost of the changing climate and the cost of action. We’re going to probably go to some communities that are not traditional — they’re not going to be Democratic bastions. There’s a huge impact in agricultural communities around the country. We’ve got to tell that story.

Q:What are you hoping from your Republican colleagues, or the type of Republican that gets added to the committee?

CASTOR: Folks who are ready to work, who are ready to roll up their sleeves. I’m very hopeful that — that’s one of the reasons we will go to those districts and those communities because nothing moves a member of Congress more than their local community pressing them for action. And I hope that we can build some bridges with our Republican colleagues in the Senate and maybe even in the White House. But that’s no easy task. That’s why we gave the American people — we need folks who understand we have a moral obligation to our kids and future generations to press them as well.

Q:What is your stance on climate and what makes you passionate about this issue? What made you step up and take this committee on?

CASTOR: Coming from the Tampa Bay area in Florida, I feel like my state has been in the bull’s-eye of extreme weather events, of massive cost increases because the climate is changing, of higher air conditioning bills, higher property insurance bills, more of our property taxes are being diverted to infrastructure investments in adaptation, flood insurance. Think about the massive, multi-billion dollar bills we have passed here in the Congress after a hurricane, wildfire or flood. I have young daughters — it’s one of the reasons I came to Congress, to fight for a clean and healthy environment. And now what we have on our doorstep is so much more significant than when I started in public service as an environmental attorney for the state of Florida right out of law school. It is defense of our country, the way of life as we know it.

Q:How much do you envision the committee will take on the companies behind fossil fuel production and greenhouse gas emissions?

CASTOR: Head on. Head on. And you know, we want to highlight the businesses that are eliminating carbon, the businesses that understand that maybe a little energy efficiency here is good. But we’ve got to press them to do so much more. We’re going to highlight the good actors and we are going to shine a very bright light on the polluters, the ones that are emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases and press for a clean energy economy. And it’s a tall order but I think the American people are behind it and we simply don’t have time to wait.

Q:How do you do that in a way that sounds positive, that can maintain a big tent Democratic Party?

CASTOR: Sitting on the floor during the swearing-in was pretty remarkable — looking at all the kids from the most diverse racially and gender, religious Congress here. And there’s kind of an unspoken understanding among all of the members in the Democratic caucus especially and some of the Republicans that we simply cannot wait any longer.

The Congress has been so out of touch with the type of action that we need. And now we have this transformative freshman class that’s going to push us to take action and we simply have got to defend our way of life and not go backwards. It’s so frustrating. And I think that’s the message the American people sent. They watched the Trump administration go backwards, they watched a president who says, “Oh, I don’t know about climate, it may change back.” I mean, the people know that’s just ignorance.

Timeline: During Paris Talks, D.C. Breathed Life Into U.S. Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Dec 2015 15:37:00 GMT

Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), December 3:

Hein­rich pre­vi­ously voted against a pro-ex­ports bill that cleared the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee on a party-line vote, but signaled that he could sup­port ex­ports if they’re coupled with strong re­new­able-en­ergy in­cent­ives. “We are look­ing for things that bring people to the table from both sides,” he said. “I think there is a real op­por­tun­ity here. I hope we real­ize it.”

“It’s effectively carbon-neutral” to allow crude exports, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told reporters last week, “because you’re going to burn the oil someplace under the current regime.”

Tim Kaine (D-Va.), December 3:

“There is a wide range of opin­ion [in the Demo­crat­ic caucus], some pro, some con,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat, told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “The ma­jor­ity opin­ion is prob­ably [that] we’d be will­ing to con­sider it if we got some very strong en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency and green­house-gas-re­du­cing pro­vi­sions along with it.”

Heidi Heitkamp, December 9:

“The good news is there is no one saying ‘absolutely no,’ and there is a range of belief systems in terms of what you would need in order to accomplish the lifting of the ban,” Heitkamp said Tuesday. “We believe we’re at a spot where we could actually get a deal.”’

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, December 9:
In a press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the administration’s position, but wouldn’t threaten a veto of the omnibus or tax extenders package if a provision lifting the decades-old ban on crude oil was tucked inside.

It Could Be Worse: Thoughts on Obama's Clean Power Plan

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 08 Sep 2015 18:47:00 GMT

KatrinaOriginally published at The Jacobin.

At the beginning of August, President Obama unveiled with great fanfare the “Clean Power Plan,” a “Landmark Action to Protect Public Health, Reduce Energy Bills for Households and Businesses, Create American Jobs, and Bring Clean Power to Communities across the Country.”

Stripping away the poll-tested language, the president was announcing — after epic delaysEPA regulations for carbon-dioxide pollution from existing power plants, finally fulfilling a 2000 George W. Bush campaign pledge. The proposed rule’s compliance period will begin in 2022.

From a policy perspective, the proposed rule is a perfect distillation of the Obama administration’s approach to governance: politically rational incrementalism that reinforces the existing power structures and is grossly insufficient given the scope of the problem.

The information necessary to understand the rule is impressively buried on the EPA website amid “fact sheets” that list out-of-context factoids and fail to cite references from the one-hundred-plus-page technical documents or ZIP files of modeling runs. The structure of the plan is complex (for example, states can choose to comply with “rate-based” pollution-intensity targets or “mass-based” total-pollution targets) and carefully designed to satisfy a wide range of stakeholders.

With sufficient inspection, the plan’s impact on climate pollution — its entire purpose — emerges: the rule locks in the rate of coal-plant retirement that has been ongoing since 2008, and that’s about it.

Under both the rate-based and mass-based approaches, the projected rate of change in coal-fired generation is consistent with recent historical declines in coal-fired generation. Additionally, under both of these approaches, the trends for all other types will remain consistent with what their trends would be in the absence of this rule.

Now, that’s a pretty good accomplishment in political terms. The administration is seizing on the ascendant power of the natural-gas industry to codify an existing economic trend at the expense of the presently weak coal industry. Coal-plant pollution has been protected from air-pollution regulation for generations; some of the plants in operation today were built during the Great Depression. These plants — immensely profitable for their owners — are not only climate killers, but destroyers of the lives of anyone who lives downwind of their poisonous effluvia. These rules were crafted in the face of the sociopathic opposition of the Republican Party to any climate policy, let alone one administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

From the perspective of actual reality, however, the proposed rule is so weak as to be potentially destructive. It is built around the premise that the United States will extend its commitment to fracked gas for decades to come, even as the climate targets Obama personally signed onto can only be met if the dismantling of all fossil-fuel infrastructure begins immediately.

The rule’s expectations for renewables are clear evidence of the political power of the fossil-fuel industry trumping that of clean power. Since 2009, US wind generation has tripled and solar generation has grown twentyfold. Yet the EPA expects much slower renewable electricity growth in the next fifteen years. This assumption is why the rule will deliver de minimis cuts to greenhouse pollution from the electric power sector—unless states implementing the rule voluntarily adopt stronger goals.

More than anything else, the Clean Power Plan is a triumph of messaging discipline. The Obama administration has learned some lessons from the political debacle that accompanied the death of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the Senate. Although there was significant money put into a grassroots mobilization for climate legislation, that mobilization failed spectacularly.

The organization 1Sky — which was formed in 2007 with the sole purpose of building grassroots support for climate legislation — had support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and others. But its efforts came to naught. (1Sky was absorbed by in 2011.)

The White House discouraged grassroots mobilization, and instead focused their attention on the inside game, the elite stakeholders in Washington DC. The insider strategy relied on the chimera of gaining Republican votes for transformative climate policy. As a result, climate policy elites and grassroots activists spent years in conflict, while opposition was effectively organized under the Tea Party banner. By the middle of 2009, both public and elite support for climate legislation had collapsed.

This political collapse should have come as no surprise, in particular to Obama, who won the White House using a campaign strategy built from the lessons of leftist community organizers, most notably campaign advisor Marshall Ganz. However, even before he took the oath of office, Obama abandoned the grassroots-mobilization infrastructure in favor of a fully centralized approach.

The administration’s approach was actually in part an attempt not to repeat the failures of the Clinton-Gore approach to climate. Their policy attempts — a “BTU” energy tax proposed in 1993 and the Kyoto Protocol global treaty Gore negotiated in 1997 — ran up against congressional opposition. So the Obama White House, populated by many of the veterans of the Clinton years, deliberately took their hands off the tiller and let their allies in Congress, namely Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Rep. Ed Markey and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, take the lead.

So climate policy failed yet again, in a different manner. It’s almost as if the real problem wasn’t how various policies were presented to Congress, but instead the political composition of Congress itself.

This time they have deliberately coordinated with grassroots environmental groups, including environmental justice organizations, to sell the EPA rule. The mainline environmental groups, at the behest of the administration and funded by Democratic-aligned grants, burned the midnight oil to get their members to submit eight million comments in support of the rule, an accomplishment almost unparalleled in terms of the amount of effort expended to achieve minimal political influence.

The environmental justice community — a diverse and fractious network of predominantly local, non-white environmental organizations — took a different approach in response to elite outreach. They accepted grants to engage on the Clean Power Plan, but used their seat at the table to advocate forcefully against the previous draft of the rule.

Because Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, had previously established mechanisms to consider environmental justice in the rule-making process, the activists’ concerns about this rule were at least partly addressed.

But it’s not nearly enough. Dismantling the global fossil-fuel economy is a civilization-scale fight. Fossil-fuel industrialists have every incentive to resist democratic control to prevent their economic extinction. And that extinction is what climate policy needs to bring about, not forestall — global warming won’t stop until we stop burning fossil fuels. The Obama years have been spent in skirmishes and accommodations that have served mainly to delay the inevitable, seismic conflict between extractive capitalism and democratic society.

The modest accomplishments for climate and environmental justice in the Clean Power Plan will have little meaning unless they turn out to be the first salvos in a relentless assault on the carbon economy. In 2008, Obama envisioned that he would oversee from the White House “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

That moment has not yet come.

Republicans Send Keystone XL Bill to President after Ceremonial Signing

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Feb 2015 19:08:00 GMT

Keystone XL bill enrollmentTurning the process of enrolling a bill into stagecraft, Congressional Republicans ceremoniously signed their bill expediting the foreign-owned Keystone XL tar sands pipeline today. President Barack Obama has promised a veto of the legislation. The Hoeven-Manchin bill, S. 1, passed the Senate 62-36 and the House 270-152, neither achieving the two-thirds majority necessary for a veto override.

Emulating the ceremony of a presidential bill signing, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the enrolled legislation with large metal pens on a table decked with navy blue as other Congressional Republicans stood watching. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who received the ceremonial pen, argued that vetoing the bill would help OPEC. According to the Hill’s Laura Baron-Lopez, “Hoeven asked if the administration really wants to rely on OPEC with the current terror situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”

Citing Climate Threat, Maryland Gov. O'Malley Vetoes Anti-Wind Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 27 May 2014 15:29:00 GMT

Martin O'Malley
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
Citing the threat of global warming, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley vetoed legislation that would have stalled a major offshore wind project in his state. O’Malley bucked the state’s leading Democrats by killing House Bill 1168, which forbade the construction of the $200-million, 70-megawatt Great Bay Wind project near the Patuxent River Naval Air Station until July 2015. In his May 16 veto letter to Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel), O’Malley noted “the real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore but rising sea levels caused by climate change.”
After careful consideration, I am vetoing this bill because (1) there are meaningful safeguards in place that render the bill unnecessary; (2) the real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore but rising sea levels caused by climate change; and (3) increasing renewable energy is a core strategic goal for the future security and prosperity of our State.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip, is a vigorous opponent of the wind farm, testifying in Annapolis against its potential threat to the naval base, although the project developer and U.S. Navy had come to an agreement to alleviate the Navy’s concerns about possible radar interference from the turbines. Hoyer was joined by Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in counseling delay. Cardin was one of the recent participants in the #Up4Climate all-night talkathon, during which he discussed the threat of sea level rise to Pax River and the need for investment in renewable energy.

O’Malley’s letter reiterated the importance of fighting the carbon pollution which is already damaging Maryland with investment in clean energy.
Ironically, the greater inconvenient truth threatening Pax River — and the billions of dollars of economic activity generated by that facility — is climate change. To address that threat, we must encourage the development of clean renewable energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by shifting to clean energy will not always be easy or convenient in the short run, and it will challenge all of us to find new ways to coexist, but it is critical to sustaining the economy and living environment of our State.
He also noted the National Climate Assessment:
The recent release of the Third National Climate Assessment highlights the costs climate change is already imposing on Maryland and underscores the importance of doing everything we can to reduce the damage it will cause in the future. Our State in general, and Pax River in particular, are vulnerable to the very type of carbon pollution that renewable energy projects help reduce.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, and the Sierra Club mobilized thousands of activists to support the wind project.

Wind farm opponents have pledged to keep fighting against the project.

Despite Environmental Endorsements, Sen. Susan Collins Has Spotty Record on Confronting Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 26 Mar 2014 22:32:00 GMT

Collins adSen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), facing reelection this year in a strongly Democratic state, has garnered the support of national environmental organizations despite a conflicted record on climate policy. In September 2013, the League of Conservation Voters launched an ad campaign praising Collins’ “environmental leadership.” A new advertisement from the Environmental Defense Fund and Moms Clean Air Force praises Collins for “confronting climate change” in marked contrast to the majority of her Republican colleagues. The organizations have not formally endorsed a candidate in the rate.

The EDF ad cites Collins’ vote on “S. Amdt 359 to SCon Res 8, Roll Call #76, 3/22/13.” That day Collins broke with the Republican caucus to vote against an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change.

She cast a similar vote on April 6, 2011, when she broke the Republican ranks to vote against the McConnell amendment prohibiting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

On December 11, 2009, Collins and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced climate legislation (S. 2877) in competition with Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733), the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill. Cantwell-Collins offered a simpler cap-and-trade system and weaker emissions targets than Kerry-Boxer.

However, a broader review of her voting record finds that Collins repeatedly acted to help Republicans prevent the passage of climate legislation during the Obama presidency and to weaken executive action on climate rules:

  • On April 1, 2009, Collins allied with Republicans and conservative Democrats in key votes to preserve the ability of Republicans to filibuster climate legislation during Obama’s first term. She voted against non-filibusterable budget reconciliation for green economy legislation, if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming” (Roll Call Vote #125). She then voted to prohibit the use of reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system (Roll Call #126. She voted for Sen. Kit Bond’s amendment establishing a point of order against climate change or similar legislation that would increase federal revenues (Roll Call #142).

    These votes arguably made the future demise of climate legislation in the Senate inevitable, in contrast to health care legislation, which became law through the reconciliation process despite unified Republican opposition.

  • On April 6, 2011, Collins voted for Rockefeller’s bill to delay greenhouse-gas regulations for two years (Roll Call #53).
  • On March 21 and 22, 2013, Collins voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions (Roll Call #59) and against Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment that would support the creation of a carbon fee (Roll Call #58).

Moreover, Collins has been a consistent supporter of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, voting that “that no additional safety or environmental analysis of the pipeline was necessary” in 2012 (Roll Call #34) and in 2013 (Roll Call #61). Collins is also “the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review” of the possibility of the Portland Montreal Pipeline being used to carry tar sands crude, as the Canadian government opens the route from Alberta to Quebec for the carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

Although Collins has expressed a desire for “limiting the worst effects of climate change,” when the opportunity has come to display true climate leadership, she has supported her caucus instead more often than not.

White House Issues Veto Threat Against House Bill to Kill Power-Plant Carbon Rules

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 05 Mar 2014 21:32:00 GMT

The White House has issued a veto threat against legislation from the Republican-led House of Representatives that would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants. The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), is up for consideration on the House floor this week.

“H.R. 3826 would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants, and arbitrarily restrict the available technologies that could be considered for any new standards,” argued the White House statement. “Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules.”

The bill has 94 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats (John Barrow, William Enyart, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson, Nick Rahall, Terri Sewell, and Mike McIntyre).

Full text of statement:

March 4, 2014 (House Rules)

H.R. 3826 – Electricity Security and Affordability Act
(Rep. Whitfield, R-Kentucky, and 94 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3826, which would undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and stop U.S. progress in cutting dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. In 2009, EPA determined that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting climate changes that are already having a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic GHG emissions. While the United States limits emissions of arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution from power plants, there are no national limits on power plant carbon pollution. As part of his Climate Action Plan, the President directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with States, utilities, and other stakeholders to develop standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. H.R. 3826 would block those important efforts, threatening the health and safety of Americans.

H.R. 3826 would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants, and arbitrarily restrict the available technologies that could be considered for any new standards. This requirement would stifle progress in reducing carbon pollution by discouraging the adoption of currently available and effective technology, and would limit further development of cutting-edge clean energy technologies. Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules. This would undermine regulatory certainty and prevent timely action on standards for the power sector — the largest source of carbon pollution in the country.

Since it was enacted in 1970, and amended in 1977 and 1990, each time with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation’s air quality and protected public health. Over that same period of time, the economy has grown over 200 percent while emissions of key pollutants have decreased by more than 70 percent. Forty years of clean air regulation has shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand.

The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to enact comprehensive legislation to achieve meaningful reductions in carbon pollution. However, the President has made it clear that if Congress fails to act to protect future generations from the threat of climate change, his Administration will.

Because H.R. 3826 threatens the health and economic welfare of future generations by blocking important standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector, if the President is presented with H.R. 3826, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.): "There Are No Emergency Rooms For Planets"

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Sep 2013 20:22:00 GMT

Newly elected Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), in his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, spoke on the urgency of fighting climate change pollution with new clean energy.

“We need to create an end of the era of climate denial. Climate change is irrefutable. It is raising sea levels. It is giving storms more power. The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets. We must put in place the preventative care of unleashing a renewable energy revolution in wind, in solar, in biomass, in geothermal, in energy efficiency that avoids the worst, most catastrophic impacts of climate change on this planet. We are seeing it on an ongoing basis, not just here, but across the planet.

Our moral duty to future generations calls on us to address climate change. But it also is an economic opportunity to create new jobs here in our country. I will soon introduce new legislation that will call on American to reach a 25 percent target for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements. This bill will create jobs as it cuts pollution. And I will continue to work to pass climate legislation as I did in the House of Representatives.”


As a member of the House of Representatives, Markey was a co-sponsor of climate legislation that passed the House in 2009 but died in the U.S. Senate.

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