House Democrats unveiled Monday their long-awaited Climate Crisis Action Plan, a less-ambitious version of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal that proponents hailed as a bold step toward slashing emissions and critics slammed as a way to “make China great again.”
The plan, written by Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis without Republican input, called for a carbon tax, hefty green-energy subsidies, and a federal mandate to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, or 20 years after the Green New Deal resolution’s 2030 goal.
While the Green New Deal has been described by supporters as aspirational, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear she intends to enact the policy goals laid out in the 538-page plan, seen as a blueprint for Democrats if former Vice President Joseph R. Biden captures the White House in the November election.
“With your leadership, all of you, we will turn this report into law, into saving the planet,” Mrs. Pelosi said at a press conference on the U.S. Capitol steps. “Democrats know that the climate crisis is the essential crisis of our time, threatening public health, jobs and the economy, national security, and values.”
The plan would also require ending sales of cars that produce greenhouse-gas by 2035 and sales of heavy-duty carbon-emitting trucks by 2040, while eliminating power-plant emissions by 2040.
Committee Republicans balked, saying they were not given an opportunity to amend or vote on the report — or even read it before its release — and blaming Mrs. Pelosi’s House pandemic rules under which “[p]ublic input has been pushed aside in favor of expedited Democratic partisanship.”
They called for relying on technological innovation to reduce emissions, rather than imposing costly regulations and obliterating the oil-and-gas industry, and urged Democrats to take into account the economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus shutdown, as well as China’s growing role as a fossil-fuel polluter.
More than 90% of global emissions “will soon originate outside U.S. borders,” said the Republicans, with 105% of emissions growth coming from China and developing economies. U.S. emissions declined 12% from 2005-17, thanks in large part to the transition from coal to natural gas in power plants.
“Moreover, since 2005, for every ton of emissions reduced by the United States, China has increased its emissions by four tons,” said the Republican statement. “That increase more than negates U.S. action to reduce emissions. Foreign nations will reject carbon reduction strategies that result in higher energy prices or increased manufacturing costs.”
James Taylor, president of the free-market Heartland Institute, said the report “should be renamed the Make China Great Again Initiative.”
“The practical impact of these Democrat policies would be to saddle America with higher energy costs, reduce Americans’ standard of living, and force America’s jobs providers into a competitive disadvantage versus China and other nations,” Mr. Taylor said.
“Democrats know that the climate crisis is the essential crisis of our time. I wish it weren’t a fight but it will be a fight as long as it needs to be.” - @SpeakerPelosi#SolvingTheClimateCrisispic.twitter.com/eGqCAN86VJ— LCV – League of Conservation Voters (@LCVoters) June 30, 2020
“It’s a ridiculously wasteful plan, and what’s even more ridiculous is that there are no plans to vote on it.”— Competitive Enterprise Institute (@ceidotorg) June 30, 2020
Energy-rationing policies and carbon taxes that would raise the price of electricity and gasoline are not popular with the American people. https://t.co/I7H0k8TH0x
No price tag was attached to the plan — the Green New Deal has been estimated to cost as much as $93 trillion — but Democrats said that the proposals would provide $8 billion in climate and health benefits as well as 62,000 avoided “premature deaths” through 2050.
“I applaud its focus on creating new jobs, building back by accelerating clean energy solutions, & putting communities of color at the center,” tweeted former Vice President Al Gore.
In addition to Mr. Gore, supporters included the solar and wind industries, and a wide swath of environmental and progressive groups.
“The task before us may well require levels of investment never before seen in American history,” said the Center for American Progress senior vice president Christy Goldfuss. “We must use every tool in the policy playbook, including clean energy, sustainable transportation, and natural solutions — but this is a nation of firsts, and our communities will rise to the challenge.”
The plan laid out emissions-reducing strategies in 12 sectors, including transportation, agriculture, public lands and infrastructure, and proposed a number of new federal programs, including reestablishing the Civilian Conservation Corps and creating a Climate Resilience Service Corps.
“Our plan will put people back to work and rebuild in a way that benefits all of us,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat, who chairs the committee. “That means environmental justice and our vulnerable communities are at the center of the solutions we propose.”
Like the Green New Deal, the action plan included an emphasis on promoting social justice and labor unions, including building a “fairer economy” and “strengthening workers’ rights to organize a union,” as well as retrofitting buildings and undergoing a “massive expansion of public transit.”
Free-market advocates predicted the costs of the plan would actually be disproportionately borne by low-income households in the form of higher electricity and energy prices.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell dismissed the plan as “a list of shopworn proposals that would benefit special interests at the expense of consumers and taxpayers.”
“It’s a ridiculously wasteful plan, and what’s even more ridiculous is that there are no plans to vote on it,” Mr. Ebell said. “That’s because House Democratic leaders know that energy-rationing policies and carbon taxes that would raise the price of electricity and gasoline are not popular with the American people.”
There was no immediate public comment by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez or the Sunrise Movement, which has backed the Green New Deal resolution and criticized Mrs. Pelosi’s decision in January 2019 to form the select climate committee.
Climate Depot’s Marc Morano described the Democratic plan as “essentially a slightly less ambitious plan than the Green New Deal.”
“The plan so far has not made the hardcore climate activists too happy, but it is much further than anything the Democratic Leadership has come up with before,” Mr. Morano said. “Regardless of what this plan actually seeks to do, if Biden wins, it will be AOC and the Green New Deal climate activists running the show in Washington.”
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.