On Thursday Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey rolled out the Green New Deal, a 15-point nonbinding resolution to "achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers."
Citing impending ecological doom, the bill calls for the U.S. government to mobilize a massive workforce to overhaul the country's transportation infrastructure, clean its streams and skies, and meet its power demands with 100 percent clean and renewable energy sources in 10 years. The bill aims to create tons of jobs, supercharge the economy, provide "high-quality health care" for everyone, all in consultation with "frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses."
Though 60 members of Congress have signed onto the bill, in addition to several Democratic candidates running for President in 2020, yesterday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the resolution by calling it "the green dream or whatever." AOC refused to take the bait, saying she didn't consider the term dismissive. "It is a green dream," she said.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal is the only representative from the Evergreen state to sign onto the bill with her full-throated support: "We need bold, progressive policies if we are ever going to move away from fossil fuels, combat climate change and create a healthy planet for ALL," she Tweeted. "Let's do this!"
As for Washington's other Democratic representatives? Not so much. Though they all offer strong support for doing something about climate change, they're...
...wait a second! Did somebody say climate change? Governor Jay Inslee, who's rumored to be considering a run for the presidency, would like you to know that he's "thrilled" about the Green New Deal. In a statement released yesterday, he described it as "a clarion call to action from Congress," and said he wanted to hear that same call emanating from the White House. But will that call ever truly find its full voice if we don't elect Inslee for President? Who knows. Probably not. Guess we'll just have to elect him—if he ever decides to run, that is.
Anyway, as I was saying, most of Washington's Democratic Congressional Delegation is just not at all sure if they want to do so much so soon to address the catastrophic ecological disaster that is unfolding before our very eyes.
Of the reps who haven't signed on, Rep. Rick Larsen, who represents Boeing, seemed the most skeptical. "There is a lot of good in the resolution," he said, but it's still "difficult to support the resolution right now when one of the lead sponsors says one of the intentions is to make air travel unnecessary." Larsen is referring to an FAQ about the resolution that appeared on AOC's website, which explains that one of the goals would be to "build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary."
"I cannot sell that position to the 23,000 women and men who live and work in Washington’s Second District who support the U.S. aviation economy by making the safest aircrafts and aerospace products in the world," Larsen said.
Fair enough. But I wonder if he could sell Boeing on the idea of building high-speed trains instead of planes? I guess not. And it's probably not worth it, huh. By the time they're convinced to make such a radical transition, they might as well be manufacturing machine-gun-mounted dune buggies for communities who will need them to protect their fuel stock during the water wars.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, chair of the Democratic party's conservative wing, more or less said he'd take the deal on a bill by bill basis: "I'll be looking closely at the details of the green new deal as this is transformed into actual legislation, and I am thrilled that ideas are being brought to the table to achieve our shared goals of combating climate change."
Though Congressman Adam Smith is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he basically said the same thing as Kilmer, though he was a touch more optimistic. “We are reviewing the final text that was released last night," he said in a statement yesterday. "I look forward to meetings that I have planned with constituents and stakeholders to discuss. Many of the goals in here are absolutely critical to addressing the threat of climate change, and I am committed to advancing policies to meet those goals.”
Update 2/12: In a statement released Sunday, Rep. Smith said he supports the deal: “This resolution makes clear not only the depth of the problem of climate change, but lays out the necessity of addressing income inequality as part of the solution to climate change. The devastating effects on our planet from our dependence on fossil fuels has never been more obvious, and never before in our nation’s history has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few people. We must respond to the climate crisis with policies that transform our economy and infrastructure by moving towards clean and renewable sources of energy, while making changes that create greater equality of opportunity and pay people the better wages they deserve for the work they do."
Rep. Kim Schrier, who is a member of the New Democrats, offered optimism but no commitment: "I look forward to working with my smart, creative, evidence-driven colleagues on climate-related policies and am eager to see the proposals that come out of the newly-formed Select Committee on the Climate Crisis."
Vice-chair of the New Democrats and extremely extremely wealthy person who represents Bothell, Rep. Suzan DelBene, didn't respond to multiple inquiries. Nor did Rep. Denny Heck, who got his own special little district drawn out for him in Olympia during the last redistricting. Both Democrats reign over safe districts, and yet even they won't even answer questions about the resolution.
Though an overwhelming number of Americans support the Green New Deal when it's described to them in broad terms, I guess it makes sense that these Democrats would say a whole lot of nothing on this issue. Why embrace a visionary resolution that addresses climate change at a scale appropriate to the scope of its potential disaster if the issue hasn't been thoroughly polled in your district yet? How could they even begin to find the language to explain to their own constituents that they have to take the boldest possible action on climate change now in order to prevent imminent and certain ecological catastrophe?
What might help, of course, is some of those constituents calling up their representatives and giving them the language and confidence they need. But even then, you never know.