Mar 14, 2019 - Energy & Environment

House GOP leaders push back against Green New Deal

Top House Republicans are urging Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold hearings on the Green New Deal as they seek to cast the progressive policy as bad for poor Americans.

Why it matters: This effort, which includes a letter and press conference on Thursday, represents congressional Republicans' most detailed response yet to Democrats' push on climate change since last year's election. While largely symbolic, this back-and-forth shows just how quickly the issue has gone from Washington's back burner to front burner.

Driving the news: Signers of the letter include Reps. Greg Walden of Oregon and Oklahoma's Frank Lucas, top Republicans on the Energy and Commerce and Agriculture committees, respectively. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is also set to be at the press conference.

  • The Green New Deal is not an actual bill, but instead a non-binding resolution laying out broad goals aimed at drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions along with other progressive policies, like a federal jobs guarantee and universal health care.
  • Republicans say the policies would hike energy prices across the board.
  • "Taken together, we fear the Green New Deal would hurt Americans struggling to make ends meet — the very people it purports to help," the letter states.

The other side: Backers of the Green New Deal, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), say the policy would help fix inequality by creating jobs transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

Where it stands: Because the resolution is not detailed, actually knowing its economic impact is hard at this point. Republicans cite a study by the right-leaning think tank American Action Forum to say the costs could reach $93 trillion. Politico did a piece describing that number as "bogus."

Reality check: Reducing greenhouse gases will come at a cost because they're emitted from almost every facet of our lives. The tough task is ensuring these costs don't unduly hurt the people who can least afford it, and yet is still significant enough to actually address the problem.

What they're saying: So far, Republicans aren't offering any new policy ideas in lieu of the Green New Deal to address climate change, but they are talking about it more. At hearings over the last few weeks, Republicans have talked up how they support nuclear power and hydropower as examples of what they have long supported in this area.

What's next: Backers of the Green New Deal, including the youth-led Sunrise Movement, are hosting a series of talks around the country as they attempt to rally support for the proposal.

Go deeper