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Davis, California

Sunday, May 26, 2024

New climate committee is off to a bad start

Climate committee is just what many progressives expected — a waste of time

In the backwards problem that is climate change, where the perpetrators won’t live to see the consequences, it is us, the youth, who have the most to lose. The gap in the sense of urgency between the young and the old has never been wider.

In November 2018, during the first day of orientation for the freshmen House of Representatives, 200 progressive climate protesters from the Sunrise Movement — a youth-led climate activist group —  along with freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, protested outside Nancy Pelosi’s office for a climate solution plan as she transitioned to Speaker of the House. Talk about setting the tone!

Pelosi stands out among the Democrats as the “climate champion,” successfully blocking off-shore drilling and supporting new technologies to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. So the last thing she probably needed was children criticizing her climate agenda before she even took her new job.

AOC, along with the Sunrise Movement, forged the Green New Deal, the most ambitious plan to date that addresses the climate scientists’ urgent calls for immediate action. They pressured Pelosi to make a new climate committee that would focus on implementing the Green New Deal’s plan, along with three simple requests: create a plan on the timeline mandated by top scientists, include language on economic and racial environmental justice and prohibit committee members from accepting fossil fuel money.

In what almost seemed like an act of defiance, Pelosi assigned Florida Representative Kathy Castor to head the new climate committee, officially called the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Castor publicly opposed the ban on members who have accepted fossil fuel money by citing the First Amendment. Unsurprisingly, Pelosi’s new committee excluded the timeline pushed by top scientists and failed to include language on economic and racial environmental justice.

To make matters worse, the committee’s rules are strikingly similar to the climate committee formed in 2007, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which has since been disbanded. That committee, like its current iteration, ruled that it “shall not have legislative jurisdiction and shall have no authority to take legislative action on any bill or resolution,” meaning it couldn’t pass bills to the floor for a House vote. The new climate committee is no different.

The new climate committee also lacks subpoena power. Without this power, committee members can’t force government agencies to testify on environmental issues, which is essential for creating the necessary legislation that climate scientists are urging.

Despite the controversy, youth from the Sunrise Movement showed up to the committee’s first hearing earlier this month. The young environmental leaders educated the panel on the climate misfortunes of their hometowns, showing the same sense of urgency that climate experts are demanding.

As expected, the panel responded with classic climate change denial and skepticism — one read a whole letter from an energy worker who would lose his job if we take progressive climate action.

It’s almost as if the Democrats don’t want to take any drastic action against the fossil fuel industries that are driving us to extinction. They deliberately made the Anti-Climate Avengers team to delay as much action on climate as possible. It’s not just the Republicans in the committee who have taken money from the fossil fuel industries. Pelosi and her “climate” team have taken a total of $198,000 from the very corporations they’re supposed to be fighting.

The new climate committee is not the ambitious leadership we need to tackle our most pressing issue — it’s just show put on for progressives by more corrupt, old politicians who will not be around for the flood.

Written by: Daniel Oropeza — daoropeza@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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