February 2019 Legislative Priorities

February 2019 Legislative Priorities

Legislative Priorities for the 116th Congress

The Task Forces of the Committee on Public Policy and Political Action are developing legislative priorities for the Democratic Congress. This one on the Environment follows the ones on Gun Safety and Health Policy that appeared in the January 2019 Political Dispatch.

The Environment

In the face of existing climate change disasters and the imminent threat (within 12 years) of reaching a tipping point on greenhouse gas emissions, the Green New Deal has emerged as a legislative priority: it is currently a package of proposals advocated by the Sunrise Movement (a youth environmental movement), the Sierra Club, numerous other environmental groups, and newly-elected Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who will likely introduce the package soon after the new year. We support the Green New Deal*.

The package would include:

  • Reestablishment by the House Speaker of a special committee to work on climate issues (already announced: on December 28, Speaker-Designate Pelosi announced that Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Florida will chair the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis).
  • Appropriation of Green New Deal funds.
  • Promotion of green jobs.
  • Incentives for targeted investments in renewable fuels (e.g., wind, solar) for electric energy production; in energy and resource efficiency; as well as in microgeneration.
  • Legislation and funding for modernizing the electric grid, particularly by incentivizing development of local distributed energy grids.
  • Setting strong building efficiency standards for new and existing buildings, to include Green New Deal funds for retrofitting existing buildings. Stimulation of development and use of electric vehicles.
  • A directed tax on the profits of oil and gas companies with proceeds being invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • From the desk of Speaker Pelosi is the following policy priority: “by repealing the tax breaks to multi-national oil companies, we can reduce the deficit and invest in clean energy jobs here in America.”
  • Low-carbon infrastructure redevelopment in order to create jobs.
  • Financial incentives for green investment and reduced energy usage, including low interest rates for green investment.
  • A Global Marshall Plan Initiative to assist poorer countries in coping with climate change, and to fund transition to a society free of fossil fuels and other measures that aim to preserve the biosphere.

— Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

*Information on the Green New Deal has been drawn from reports from CNN and Wikipedia, plus local DC clean energy initiatives.