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Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Proposal Now Backed by 15 House Democrats

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Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Proposal Now Backed by 15 House Democrats
Backers of a proposal for a select committee for a Green New Deal. Sunrise Movement

Calls for a Green New Deal are gaining traction in the two short weeks after the young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement and Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stormed Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi's Capitol Hill office.

Fifteen members of Congress have now backed Ocasio-Cortez's proposal to establish a "select committee" in the House of Representatives to develop a plan to—basically—reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to transition the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy sources within 10 years of passing the Green New Deal legislation.


Supporters in the House include John Lewis, the civil rights leader and Democratic congressman from Georgia, and trailblazers Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.

As ThinkProgress reported, Democratic congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine joined the growing list of backers on Tuesday.

"We don't need another report to tell us climate change is a threat to our health, environment and economy," she said in a statement on her website. "We must take urgent action to end our nation's reliance on fossil fuels and stop the damage greenhouse gases have done to our way of life."

Pingree, an organic farmer and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, said the effects of climate change have greatly impacted her state.

"Look no further than Maine's lobster industry to see the looming economic crisis facing our state due to rapidly warming waters," she said. "Meanwhile rates of asthma and tick-borne illness in Maine have dramatically spiked because of fossil fuel emissions and rising temperatures. I see the crisis of climate change every day in my state and believe a new committee dedicated exclusively to this crisis can support the long-standing work of other House committees and help to fast-track solutions."

Here are the 15 House Democrats supporting the measure:

  • Jared Huffman (CA-02)
  • Ro Khanna (CA-17)
  • Ted Lieu (CA-33)
  • John Lewis (GA-05)
  • Joe Neguse (CO-02)
  • Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
  • Jamie Raskin (MD-08)
  • Ayanna Pressley (MA-07)
  • Rashida Tlaib (MI-13)
  • Ilhan Omar (MN-05)
  • Deb Halland (NM-01)
  • Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)
  • José E. Serrano (NY-15)
  • Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)

The proposal also has the support of nearly 100 environmental, economic and social justice organizations, according to the Sunrise Movement.

To build momentum, the youth climate group is organizing another mass action at the Capitol on Dec. 10, right before Congress breaks for the holidays, "to make sure Ocasio's Select Committee on a Green New Deal makes it on the agenda for 2019," Sunrise Movement founder Varshini Prakash said in an emailed press release.

The group launched the effort only yesterday and 230 people have already signed up to participate. (You can also join the action in DC, or if you're on the West Coast, you can sign up for the action in Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco.)

Last week, the National Climate Assessment report—compiled by 13 federal agencies and more than 300 scientists—warned that climate change could kill thousands of Americans each year and slash the GDP by more than 10 percent by 2100.

President Donald Trump, who is fixated on fossil fuels, dismissed his own government's report by saying "I don't believe it."

"People are going to die if we don't start addressing climate change ASAP. It's not enough to think it's 'important.' We must make it urgent," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after the report's release. "That's why we need a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, & why fossil fuel-funded officials shouldn't be writing climate change policy."

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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