Dems seek Green New Deal to address climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats launched a sweeping plan Thursday to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy, signaling its likely elevation as a central campaign issue in 2020 despite President Donald Trump’s failure to mention climate change in his State of the Union address.

At least six senators running for president or considering White House bids co-sponsored the Green New Deal put forth by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The nonbinding resolution calls for a “10-year national mobilization” on the scale of the original New Deal to shift the economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. It sets a goal to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear power.

The plan goes far beyond energy to urge national health care coverage and job guarantees, as well as high-quality education and affordable housing. The resolution urges elimination of fossil fuels pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as technologically feasible” in a range of economic sectors and calls for “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States” to be energy-efficient.

Markey predicted more Democrats would sign on as the plan gets better known and said some Republicans may back it. More than 80 percent of registered voters supported the concept of a Green New Deal in a December poll by Yale and George Mason universities.

“This is now a voting issue across the country,” Markey said. “The green generation has risen up and they are saying they want this issue solved” as one of the top two or three issues in the 2020 election.

While setting lofty goals, the plan does not explicitly call for eliminating the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, a nod to pragmatism that may disappoint some of Ocasio-Cortez’s strongest supporters.

Even so, the Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by former President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has scrapped Obama’s plan, which imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, as a job-killer.

While Democrats did not specify a price tag, some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. GOP lawmakers denounced the plan as a radical proposal that would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase.

The measure is supported by at least six senators with their eyes on the White House: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.