House Democrats Announce Alternative to Green New Deal
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced on July 23rd the start of a sweeping effort to legislate a 100 percent decarbonization of the economy by 2050. His goal is to piece this bill together in the months ahead, presumably in time to have a ready legislative vehicle should a Democrat defeat President Trump in 2020. The effort began with a July 24th hearing titled “Building America’s Clean Future: Pathways to Decarbonizing the Economy,” and Pallone has promised a number of future hearings and stakeholder meetings focusing on various sectors of the economy and how they can totally transition away from coal, oil, and natural gas by the chosen deadline.
An alternative to the Green New Deal was widely expected given the resounding unpopularity of that measure as well as the fact that it did not emanate from the committee of jurisdiction—a cardinal sin in Congress. It is being reported as a rival climate measure, though Pallone has attempted to smooth things over by saying that his committee’s work product will undoubtedly contain several elements of the Green New Deal. For their part, Green New Deal proponents in the environmental activist community have already attacked Pallone’s effort as too weak, and Green New Deal author Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has made clear that she considers 2050 too long a time span to avoid climate catastrophe.
Virtually all congressional Republicans, including Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR), have been harshly critical of the Green New Deal, but it is not clear how strong the Republican opposition will be to the relatively watered-down approach likely to emerge from this effort.