Ocasio-Cortez offers 'Green New Deal' plan for switch to renewable energy

Image: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., at the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2019 Copyright Saul Loeb AFP - Getty Images file
Copyright Saul Loeb AFP - Getty Images file
By Benjy Sarlin with NBC News Politics
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The proposal notably does not include a carbon tax — an issue that has divided environmental advocates.


The Green New Deal is now a green new plan, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., set to roll out a resolution calling for a complete transition to renewable energy by 2030.

The legislation is the first of its kind to emerge from a flurry of activism around a Green New Deal in the new Congress, a cause Ocasio-Cortez has championed since arriving in Washington. It seeks "to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers," according to a copy of the resolution posted byNPR.

The measure is nonbinding, meaning it would not have the force of law if passed, and contains a broad set of principles and goals for responding to climate change rather than more specific legislative language on how the process would occur.

To that end, it calls for a massive 10-year infrastructure plan that the resolution likens to spending during World War II.

Goals include preparing for natural disasters linked to climate change, expanding renewable energy plants and building a "smart grid" to more efficiently utilize them, upgrading existing buildings and manufacturing plants to be more green, encouraging electric vehicles and public transportation, and protecting existing natural environments.

The text of the resolution also goes beyond environmental issues and addresses issues like racial and economic inequality. It includes a call for the government to guarantee jobs for everyone, support labor unions, and enact universal health care and housing.

Notably, the bill does not include a direct call for a price on climate pollution, like a carbon tax. Proposals to do so have garnered some limited bipartisan support, but activists in the Green New Deal have largely focused on a sweeping infrastructure plan as their lead objective.

Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff tweeted that that expect at least 60 co-sponsors in the House. But it faces a tough road to passage with Republicans in control of the Senate and some Democrats wary that it promises too much, too fast, without a clear path to get there.

"It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico on Wednesday. "The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it right?"

In the Senate, the new ranking Energy Committee chairman Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is known for his advocacy for the state's coal industry and will play a key role in legislation if Democrats take power in 2021. Manchin mentioned coal 11 times in his opening remarks at their first hearing this week while expressing general support for confronting climate change.

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