April 21 (UPI) — Progressive Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday reintroduced the Green New Deal two years after the 10-year plan was first announced.
The legislation, which aims to create jobs, repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote justice and equity, has proven to be more than just a resolution, Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts told lawmakers during a press conference before the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“It is a revolution,” he said, saying that since it was first introduced, activists and “revolutionaries” have protested and voted to make green jobs, justice and climate action central to the political system.
“There is now a diverse, organized army of activists, leaders and communities demanding the most ambitious action possible on climate,” he said. “It is an inter-generational compact to save the planet, spearheaded by our young people who are going to face the most dire impacts of the climate crisis if we do nothing to stop it. For them, this is life and death.”
The bill calls for government mobilization not seen since the second world war and FDR’s New Deal, which it is modeled on, over a 10-year span to build “resiliency against climate change-related disasters” and repair and upgrade infrastructure by eliminating pollution and meeting 100% of power demand through clean, renewable energy sources.
It also directs the building of so-called smart power grids, the upgrading of all buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency and working with U.S. farmers to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, among a slew of other measures.
The Green New Deal was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in 2019. While making a lasting impression on the public, the bill failed to advance through the Senate on a cloture vote.
Ocasio-Cortez told reporters Tuesday that the bill galvanizes a movement as it removes the notion of having to choose between the economy and the planet.
“It is going to be an all-hands-on-deck approach and we refuse to leave any community behind in the process,” she said. “Not only do we refuse to leave any community behind but those who have been left behind come first.”
She said the bill will also prevent an economy that transitions from oil barons to solar barons, stating the goal is to create a carbon-free economy that is more unionized and just while guaranteeing more healthcare and housing.
Republicans, however, lambasted the bill as “radical” legislation and government overreach.
“The Green New Deal is a socialist super-package, which will only saddle hard-working taxpayers with debt and displace millions of Americans from their jobs,” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House oversight and reform committee, said in a statement.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., ranking member of the environment subcommittee, described the bill as “amateurish” and that it would change “every aspect of American life.”
“This is no way to govern,” Norman said. “Simply put, the Green New Deal is an attempt to disguise socialism in the name of environmental protections.”
Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement that advocates for political action, said the world is at a crucial point when politicians have to make a choice between heeding science and justice by supporting the Green New Deal or to “cower to the fossil fuel industry and force us down a path of destruction.”
“We are in a civilization-altering moment in our history and it’s time for America’s political leaders to muster the courage and moral clarity to pass the Green New Deal, launching America’s biggest job creation program in a century while combating climate change,” Prakash said.
However, the bill was reintroduced as the White House seeks to pass its own $2.2 trillion infrastructure proposal.
Markey told reporters Tuesday that they intend to go further than even what President Joe Biden is seeking to achieve.
“Do we want to go beyond even what Joe Biden has proposed? And the answer is yes,” he said. “We believe that this is the moment that requires us to act big, think big, have a program that matches the magnitude of the problem that we are confronted with and to do so with justice as we create jobs for everyone.”