How the Green New Deal gang gained power

How the Green New Deal gang gained power

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (2nd L) speaks as Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) (L) and other participants listen.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference on the Green New Deal in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 20. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

A lot can change in four years.

In 2019, a group of newly elected progressive lawmakers backed a grand plan to tackle climate change while democratizing the economy. They were considered radical outcasts, clashing with Democratic Party leaders and watching their sweeping Green New Deal all but die on the vine.

Now, many of them hold top roles in Congress, where their ideas influence legislation, write Kelsey Brugger and Jeremy Dillion.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who is now the top Democrat on a House Natural Resources subcommittee, put it this way (paraphrasing a quote often attributed to Gandhi): “First they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

While the Green New Deal package stalled, a number of its hallmark ideas found a home in last year’s massive climate law, such as allocating billions of dollars for climate programs and clean energy manufacturing incentives.

The shift is in part due to progressives’ increasing willingness to work with party leaders, which has also earned them criticism from some former supporters. Ocasio-Cortez, in particular, has fielded accusations of selling out as she has transitioned from starting high-profile fights with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to calling her the “mama bear of the Democratic Party.”

But coloring within the party lines could come with a major payoff.

If Democrats can win back control of the House next year, climate-focused lawmakers will be well-positioned to advance some of their biggest goals. That includes creating millions of living-wage jobs in the clean energy sector and ensuring the benefits go to low-income and marginalized communities, which are overburdened by toxic air, water and soil pollution.

“I didn’t think we would ever become inside-baseball people,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, referring to his fellow progressive Democrats. Bowman, now the top Democrat on the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy, would be chair if his party takes back the House.

“It’s very important because I’m a major part of setting the [research and development] agenda for the country around the issue of energy,” he told Kelsey and Jeremy. “That’s a big deal.”

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Power Centers

This aerial view shows a flooded neighborhood in California.

This aerial view shows a flooded neighborhood in Merced, Calif., in January. | Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Climate and the federal debt
White House economists have spent the first two years of the Biden administration trying to understand how much climate change will add to the federal debt, writes Jean Chemnick.

Costs are already rising as more federal dollars go toward disaster relief and recovery, health care, and repairing and replacing vital infrastructure.

Hydrogen road map
The Energy Department has finalized a guide for how hydrogen could become a major source of clean energy in the U.S., writes David Iaconangelo.

But other Biden administration agencies are still weighing a number of decisions that could bear significantly on the burgeoning industry.

Ukrainian dam blast
Ukraine is blaming Russia for the explosion of a key dam, which European Union and Ukrainian politicians are calling a potential war crime, write Gabriel Gavin, Nicolas Camut and Veronika Melkozerova.

The explosion unleashed massive flooding and could lead to an ecological catastrophe in the region. It’s also raised concern about safety at the nearby Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

In Other News

Slim pickings: A record warm winter and a March freeze wiped out much of Georgia’s peach crop.

Follow the $$: Climate activists are working to divert trillions of dollars from fossil fuels into clean energy.

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Stalks of wheat under a blue sky.

A wheat field near Tioga, N.D. | Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

A new study funded by EPA suggests some major U.S. food crops will temporarily benefit from the acceleration of climate change.

High carbon-emitting countries owe at least $192 trillion to low-emitting nations in compensation for their greenhouse gas pollution, scientists say.

The Biden administration said it does not support banning gas stoves, but it also “strongly opposes” legislation in the House to rein in the federal government’s ability to regulate the appliance. Conservatives today blocked debate on the bill.

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