Monday, March 25, 2019

Democrats new climate committee is even weaker than its predecessor

"It's everything we feared."

Nancy Pelosi’s mandate for her proposed Climate Select Committee and it’s just as bad as we feared.

The Climate Select Committee, a reboot of a panel from over a decade ago, is Pelosi’s effort to satisfy those calling for a Green New Deal, but fails miserably to enact any sort of progress.

The committee will have no subpoena power, no rules barring members from accepting fossil fuel money, no mandate to create a plan on timeline mandated by top scientists, and no language on economic and racial justice. It does not include a plan to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and its lack of subpoena

Although a remarkable number of Democrats came out victories in the 2018 Midterm Elections, the party, in general, has failed to show any urgency in combating climate change.

“It’s everything we feared,” said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement. “Democratic leaders had an opportunity to embrace young people’s energy and back the Green New Deal, but they failed us once again. This committee is toothless and weaker than the first Climate Select Committee from a decade ago, and it does not get us meaningfully closer to solving the climate crisis or fixing our broken economy.”

In December, Pelosi announced her desire to revive her previous climate change committee. The announcement drew criticism from progressives who have been fighting instead for a Green New Deal, a committee that would have the authority to create “a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” that would allow the U.S. to become carbon-neutral within a decade.

As ThinkProgress points out, climate science has evolved dramatically over the last 12 years since Pelosi’s original climate panel. Scientists have been warning policymakers for years that the window of opportunity to mitigate climate catastrophe is closing rapidly. A recent governmental report details how Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any other point in the history of modern civilization. 

Despite all of this, Pelosi’s new Climate Select Committee is a step backwards. The committee will have 15 members, six of whom will be appointed on the recommendation of the House minority leader, and all policy recommendations must be submitted to “relevant standing committees” (such as the House Energy and Commerce Committee). Further, as many progressives have pointed out, the committee’s purpose would seem to be little more than just conducting climate hearings.

The new climate committee will be officially established on Thursday if House Democrats vote to approve their new rules package.

The Green New Deal, initially proposed by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, is heavily supported by incoming and current progressive Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), is now dividing Democrats and setting up some for primary challenges:

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