Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers pushed an array of environmental and energy provisions this week, presenting two very different visions for the country ahead of a major climate summit this week.
President Joe Biden will host 40 world leaders Thursday for a virtual, international climate summit where they are expected to discuss new goals on climate regulation issues such as carbon emissions and coal power plants.
Ahead of that international event, both parties promoted their respective energy and environmental policies.
Republicans held the second of their three-day conference Tuesday promoting a litany of “conservative solutions for a better climate,” including a focus on innovation, nuclear power, conservation, regulatory reform, aggressive tree planting, and clean energy infrastructure.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is leading the forum along with more than two dozen other Republican lawmakers who will each tackle a pet issue and “highlight dozens of bills and solutions to deliver a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment.”
“Democrats often dismiss Republicans as being disinterested in addressing global climate change,” McCarthy said. “That is just false. Our members have been working for years to develop thoughtful, targeted legislation to reduce global emissions by ensuring we can develop and build a new technology at home.”
Democrats in the House on Tuesday re-introduced the Green New Deal, the flagship legislation that has become a rallying cry for the liberal base and a point of derision for Republicans. For moderate Democrats, it has been more of a headache as they’ve had to balance pressure from progressives and attacks from the right over the most aggressive points in the plan.
More progressive Democrats have used the bill to fund-raise and rally their liberal base.
“I ran and won on the Green New Deal,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said at a news conference announcing the re-introduction Tuesday.
A poor initial rollout did not help the Green New Deal’s case amongst moderates. When the bill was first unveiled, Republicans were quick to jump on provisions that would ban air travel and the methane produced by cow waste as well as the provision to pay those “unwilling to work.”
The legislative effort also includes a litany of proposals seemingly unrelated to the environment, including affordable housing, free higher education, expanded health care spending and more union jobs.
The liberal environmental plan, which is estimated to cost tens of trillions of dollars, has been modified since then but still asserts an aggressive series of changes and unprecedented regulations.
“Not only do we refuse to leave any community behind but those who have been left behind come first,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said at a news conference Tuesday. “We’re going to transition to a 100% carbon-free economy that is more unionized, more just, more dignified and that guarantees more health care and housing than we’ve ever had before. That’s our goal.”
Critics of the Democratic agenda say it is more of a socialist makeover of the country than a climate plan. They also argue there will be a spike in energy costs, a loss of competitiveness with China and other economies, as well as a mammoth spike in spending that the nation could not sustain.
“A GND policy would yield no benefits in its central energy, environment, and climate context, but it would impose very large economic costs,” American Enterprise Institute environmental expert Benjamin Zycher said.
Zycher also pointed to widespread blackouts if the Democratic plan is implemented.
“Without fossil-fired backup generation, the national and regional electricity systems would be characterized by a significant decline in service reliability – that is, a large increase in the frequency and duration of blackouts,” Zycher said. “Battery backup technology cannot solve this problem.”
The Green New Deal has had major political consequences for Democrats in tight races. Republicans used the plan in campaign ads to target Democrats in the last election.
Overall, Republicans risk being seen as doing too little while Democrats risk doing too much.
“The return of the Green New Deal is proof that today’s Democratic Party cannot shake its socialist mantle,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a statement.
This article was originally posted on Republican, Democratic lawmakers push dueling visions ahead of climate summit