A number of Democrats are now considering proposing various policies on climate change, including clean energy mandates and carbon pricing. And many of these Dems are purposely keeping their distance from the Green New Deal.
Bloomberg has dubbed these Dems “Green New Deal defectors.” They’re mainly moderate Democrats who are working on climate change policies without invoking the ambitious resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
Bloomberg notes that many of these Democrats won their seats in “moderate-to-conservative districts.” The article mainly focuses on Rep. Sean Casten (Ill.) and Rep. Elaine Luria (Va.), both of whom are members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of “more than 100 forward-thinking Democrats in the House of Representatives who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.”
“The Green New Deal is a political document. If we all passed it tomorrow, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference,” Casten told Bloomberg.
“The Green New Deal is aspirational,” Luria said. “What we plan to do is offer tangible, achievable things.”
Casten and Luria are both co-chairs of the coalition’s Climate Change Task Force, along with Rep. Don Beyer (Va.), who’s also interviewed in the article. The task force’s mission statement says the group “seeks to foster a pro-climate agenda that would meet the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement. Our best shot of hitting these goals is if we use all of the tools and solutions we can get our hands on as we transition to more sustainable and clean energy.”
A carbon price — certainly not a new idea — is among the plans being considered, though there are concerns about GOP support for the measure. Another idea reportedly on the table is a “federal mandate that could require the use of clean energy sources such as wind, solar and other renewables as well as possibly nuclear and coal with carbon capture technologies as well.”
Ocasio-Cortez told Bloomberg that Dems who don’t support the Green New Deal may be more interested in saving their seats than saving the planet.
Whatever ends up coming forth from these Dems won’t be the first climate plan from Democrats in the new Congress. Rep. Paul Tonko (N.Y.) presented his plan, “A Framework for Climate Action in the U.S. Congress,” in March, prior to the Green New Deal vote. Tonko, who did not sponsor the Green New Deal, said his plan is “complementary” to the GND.
More notably, the day after the Green New Deal vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of other House Dems introduced the Climate Action Now Act. The bill is chiefly concerned with getting the U.S. to return to the Paris Agreement.
Much of this is political framing around policies that work toward similar goals. For instance, Luria’s not wrong when she says the Green New Deal is aspirational. It is — that’s kind of the point. It’s a set of goals. These moderate Dems wish to pass their own plans off as “alternatives” when they likely fit what the GND aims to accomplish.
Compare this with a proposed upcoming bill from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), which would expand the federal tax credit for electric vehicles while linking the credit to U.S. manufacturing. Khanna is embracing the Green New Deal, tweeting: “When people ask for specifics about how the #GreenNewDeal can work, here is one.”
Again, we’ve long supported carbon pricing, but can these Dems actually get the GOP support they need and want? Or will certain proposed measures be made more “palatable” for a party that’s yet to show any meaningful interest in climate policy? A majority of Americans in every single U.S. county support reducing CO2 as a pollutant. Incremental progress isn’t really good enough at this point.
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