The House Democrat tapped to chair the new climate change panel previewed her first big legislative pushes, and it’s not the “Green New Deal” being pushed by the progressive wing of her party.
The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will push for legislation on fuel economy standards “right off the bat,” the chairwoman, Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, said in an interview published Thursday.
“Right off the bat, we will tackle fuel economy standards, make sure the Commerce Committee and the (Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) are focused on that,” Castor told USA Today.
“The Financial Services Committee has to do a flood insurance reform bill. We will be involved in that as well,” Castor said.
Castor’s likely goal is to shepherd legislation to undo the Trump administration’s rolling back of Obama-era fuel economy standards that were meant to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Flood insurance reform is a goal of Democrats worried about damaging sea level rise.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of a special House climate committee in December. The committee doesn’t have the authority to introduce legislation or issue subpoenas, much to the chagrin of “Green New Deal” supporters.
More than 40 House Democrats back the “Green New Deal” championed by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which calls for a climate committee to draft sweeping climate legislation.
That committee would be responsible for drafting legislation to move the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy over a 10-year period and put in place a slew of social welfare programs, including universal health care and job guarantees.
Ocasio-Cortez proposed financing her climate agenda by raising top marginal tax rates as high as 70 percent, but even substantially higher income taxes wouldn’t likely yield the trillions of dollars needed to finance a Green New Deal.
Environmentalists, Democratic influencers and 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, support the Green New Deal proposal.
However, not all Democrats support the Green New Deal, including New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Pallone and other committee chairs worry a Green New Deal panel would only delay getting climate legislation to the floor. Pallone also questioned whether or not the ultimate goal of the Green New Deal — a 100 percent renewable-powered economy — is even feasible.
“This is something that we should take a look at, but some of it may not be technologically or politically feasible,” Pallone said in a radio interview Tuesday.
“I don’t want to just lay a groundwork for something that might happen in five or ten years and just talk about it. I want to actually get things done,” Pallone said. “So we kind of have to convince them to take some action on climate even though they may deny it.”
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