North Bay Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman jumped on the “Green New Deal” bandwagon led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the firebrand freshman from New York who declined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offer of a seat on a new committee formed to investigate the “climate crisis.”
Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat who was named Thursday to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, appeared with Ocasio-Cortez, Thompson and other lawmakers in a Green New Deal press conference the same day in front of the Capitol.
Huffman, an environmental leader among House Democrats, dismissed the notion of a intra-party divide on climate change, which Democrats appear to be pushing as a major 2020 election issue.
“The schism has been vastly exaggerated and maybe even contrived,” he said, adding that he wished Ocasio-Cortez had agreed to join the committee that is expected to hold hearings and produce a report on the climate crisis.
“We need to include the perspective she brings,” Huffman said, referring to the demands from young people and minorities challenging the political establishment.
Both Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, co-authors of the Green New Deal resolution unveiled Thursday, praised Pelosi as a “leader” on climate change.
Ocasio-Cortez, the former bartender who upset a longtime Bronx incumbent in November, told the New York Times that she was not offended by Pelosi’s description of the Green New Deal on Wednesday as the “green dream, or whatever they call it.”
Ocasio-Cortez and activists with a group called the Sunrise Movement had previously called for a Green New Deal committee. Pelosi instead revived, with a new name, a committee that existed during her previous tenure as speaker from 2007 to 2011 and was abandoned by Republicans who took control of the House in 2011.
The speaker named nine Democrats, including Huffman and fellow California Reps. Julia Brownley of Westlake Village and Mike Levin of Oceanside, to the climate crisis committee.
Huffman said the committee’s report should set “a policy road map for decarbonizing our economy in the next 10 to 12 years.”
There is no timetable for the committee to finish the job, which it cannot start until Republican members are named, he said.
The Green New Deal initiative, a non-binding resolution in both the House and Senate, has no legal authority. It outlines a host of liberal environmental and economic goals, including 100 percent renewable energy, millions of high-wage jobs and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years.
The Republican National Committee dismissed it as “a socialist wish list.”
Thompson, a 20-year House veteran from St. Helena, said he was pleased to be among about 60 House and Senate Democrats backing the resolution.
“Climate change is the most existential threat we face today,” he said in a statement. “I have long said that if we do not act now nothing else matters because there won’t be a planet to pass on to our children.”