Markey/Ocasio-Cortez to Unveil Climate Change Bill: Green Energy, Job Guarantees, Universal Health Care

Ed Markey, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
AP Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and longtime climate change advocate Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) are expected to introduce sweeping legislation to transform the United States economy and job market, including changing a nation that currently fills 17 percent of its electricity needs from “renewable” sources to 100 percent in just ten years.

Axios first reported that the proposed legislation, citing a Green New Deal document linked to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website, could be announced as early as next week: 

The Green New Deal is a set of vague, but broad progressive policy goals seeking to transform the economy in the name of fighting climate change. It has risen from obscurity to prominence since the November election, with Ocasio-Cortez, a rising progressive star, leading the charge. Democrats eyeing presidential runs — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris — are backing the general concept of the Green New Deal, which is sure to play a role in the 2020 primary.

Aside from the renewable electricity goal, the bill could include federal job guarantees for people “working in the low-carbon transition” and universal health care — although the connection between fighting climate change and universal health care is not explained.

But even climate change zealots are wary of some of the ideas in the expected bill, according to the leftist website Common Dreams.

While welcoming the news, Greenpeace USA climate director Janet Redman said in a statement that any Green New Deal bill must include a “fossil fuel phaseout” for it to be taken seriously.

The idea behind their proposal, she said, “is inspiring, bold, and transformative—but it won’t get us to a future in which the most vulnerable are protected and global temperatures stop rising if it doesn’t include a hard stop on fossil fuel expansion.”

“We have to continue radical encouragement of climate leaders in Congress to get us where we actually need to be if we’re serious about staving off the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” Redman emphasized. “Now is this country’s chance to break free of climate half-measures and adopt policies that will actually save lives.”

The effort also may be stymied by facts from the federal Energy Information Administration, which reported that although wind and solar energy production is growing and will continue to do so, fossil fuels will power the United States for decades to come:

Even with the growth from renewable energy sources, fossil fuels will still provide most of the electricity generated in the United States. Coal and natural gas combined provided 63% of electricity generation in 2018 and EIA forecasts that they will provide 61% in 2020.

Natural gas fueled 35% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2018, up from 24% in 2010. In contrast, the share of total generation from coal-fired power plants fell to 28% last year from 45% in 2010. EIA forecasts the natural gas generation share will grow to 37% by 2020 and coal will continue declining to 24% by 2020.

Coal was the predominant generation fuel in the United States for decades, but in 2016, annual U.S. electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants surpassed coal-fired generation. Since then, natural gas has remained the primary source of electricity.

Since taking back power in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the formation of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, but some critics were hoping for a Green New Deal Select Committee.

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