Should the House Call for a 'Green New Deal' to Fight Climate Change and Income Inequality? (H. Res. 109)
Do you support or oppose this bill?
What is H. Res. 109?
(Updated February 9, 2022)
This resolution would express the non-binding sense of the House that it’s the federal government’s duty to create a Green New Deal that aims to combat climate change and income inequality over the course of a decade. The Green New Deal would aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, require all U.S. power demand to be met through renewable sources, upgrade all existing buildings in the U.S. to maximize energy efficiency standards that’d also apply to new buildings, and promote “justice and equity” for certain groups of people. A breakdown of the policies the House would propose for a Green New Deal can be found below.
The Green New Deal mobilization would aim to accomplish a number of goals within a 10-year timeframe:
Meeting 100% of U.S. power demand through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources by expanding and upgrading existing renewable power and deploying new capacity (excluding nuclear power).
Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and requiring all new buildings to meet standards maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability (including through electrification).
Eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector as much as technologically possible by supporting family farming, investing in sustainable land use practices, and building a “more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food”.
Eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as technologically possible by investing in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure & manufacturing, public transportation, and high-speed rail.
Upgrading infrastructure by guaranteeing universal access to clean water, reducing risks posed by flooding, and ensuring that any infrastructure bill considered by Congress addresses climate change.
Building resilience against climate-change related disasters by leveraging funding for community-defined projects and strategies, in addition to developing smart power grids and ensuring affordable access to electricity.
The resolution would call for the Green New Deal to be developed through “transparent and inclusive consultation with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses.” Further, the resolution adds that a Green New Deal mobilization would require the following projects and goals to be achieved:
Leveraging capital, technical expertise, supporting policies, and other forms of assistance to community organizations, government agencies at the federal, state, and local level, and businesses involved in the mobilization.
Ensuring the federal government takes into account the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of policies.
Providing “resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United State, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities”.
Guaranteeing a job “with a family sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the U.S.”;
Ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates “high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition”.
Strengthening and enforcing labor, workplace health and safety, anti-discrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors.
Making a public investment in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries.
Ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization.
Providing all people of the U.S. with high-quality healthcare; affordable, safe, and adequate housing; economic security; and access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
Among the frontline and vulnerable communities this bill would seek to protect against “exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices” are: “indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth”.
As a simple resolution, this legislation is non-binding and wouldn’t advance beyond the House if passed.
Argument in favor
Climate change and income inequality are two of the greatest threats facing America. Enacting a massive transformation of our society like this Green New Deal is the best way to achieve that, not only through cutting emissions, investing in clean energy, and upgrading infrastructure but by guaranteeing economic security for all Americans — particularly those from vulnerable communities. This may be a non-binding resolution, but its passage would be a positive step toward the realization of a Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal suggested by this resolution is a massive transformation of our society that comes with tremendous costs. It sets unrealistic goals like eliminating all energy derived from fossil fuel & nuclear power while upgrading or replacing every building in America over the course of a decade. And it goes well beyond environmental policies by calling for guaranteed “economic security for those willing or unwilling to work.” Alternatively, this bill is non-binding and wouldn’t make any real progress in achieving its stated goals.
The House of Representatives.
Cost of H. Res. 109
As a non-binding resolution, this bill would have no cost.
In-Depth: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced this bill to call for the federal government to create a Green New Deal that would aim to combat climate change and income inequality, saying in a press conference:
“Today is the day that we truly embark on the comprehensive agenda of economic, social, and racial justice in the United States of America. Climate change and our environmental challenges are one of the biggest existential threats to our way of life. Not just as a nation, but as a world. And in order for us to combat that threat, we must be as ambitious and innovative in our solution as possible.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional website initially posted an FAQ about this bill and the Green New Deal in general, but removed the link from its media page (though a since-edited version is still available via NPR). It offered a broader context on several aspects of the plan, including:
Explaining why the Green New Deal goal would be net-zero greenhouse gas emissions instead of zero emissions, the FAQ stated “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
To reduce emissions, the FAQ suggested investing in “highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
The FAQ explained that nuclear energy would be eliminated alongside energy from fossil fuels within the 10-year scope of the Green New Deal mobilization.
The FAQ explained that the federal government would guarantee “economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work.”
Explaining how the federal government would pay for the Green New Deal, the FAQ stated: “The same way we paid for the New Deal, the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs. The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit. There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment. At the end of the day, this is an investment in our economy that should grow our wealth as a nation, so the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.”
Some have expressed skepticism about this Green New Deal plan including Obama administration energy secretary Ernest Moniz, who called the plan “impractical” in an interview with NPR, adding “I’m afraid I just cannot see how we could possibly go to zero carbon in the 10-year timeframe.” And Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said that efforts to eliminate air travel “would be pretty hard for Hawaii,” while a Democratic leadership aide told the New York Times that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) isn’t planning to bring the current resolution up for a vote.
This resolution has the support of 67 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats.
- Sponsoring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) FAQs via NPR
The Federalist (Opposed)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStock.com / serts)
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