First vote on the Green New Deal!

By Sylvia Chi

Action deadline: February 4, 2019 and ongoing –

The year has hardly started, and our Members of Congress are about to get a chance to vote to show – and act on – their support for the Green New Deal, when two resolutions supporting the Green New Deal are proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We want our MOCs to support a Green New Deal (GND) that will eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, provide jobs in a new green economy, and support all communities and workers through the transition. We need your help to tell our MOCs to:

  • Support the Green New Deal, publicly support the upcoming resolutions, and vote for the resolutions when they reach the floor
  • Support the ideals of a Green New Deal by taking the No Fossil-Fuel Money Pledge

Call your representatives now! See our example call scripts at the end of this post, and read on for updates to the status of the Green New Deal.

As the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis takes shape, we are continuing to push for action on a Green New Deal (see our previous action articles here and here). We faced a setback when some of the features we had asked for – subpoena power, mandate to develop a Green New Deal plan by 2020, limiting fossil fuel company campaign donations to committee members – were not included in the formation of the committee. Thus, although we are happy to see the House of Representatives taking on climate change again, we know that the current iteration is not going to be enough. The Sunrise Movement, one of the main driving forces behind the Green New Deal in its current form, continues to expand on the proposal and advocate for specific steps in moving it forward. They are focusing on legislative strategies to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, guarantee a job to anybody who wants to be part of creating the new green economy, and provide for a just transition for all communities and workers.

The Green New Deal is a hot topic among 2020 Presidential hopefuls, including our own Senator Kamala Harris, who the day after kicking off her Presidential campaign announced her support for a GND – although, disappointingly, she hasn’t said that she supports its important components of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.

All our Members of Congress have good environmental records, but not all are in the same place with respect to the GND, or with respect to the pledge not to accept campaign money from fossil fuel companies – a pledge endorsed by groups ranging from Sunrise Movement and Climate Hawks Vote to Public Citizen and Courage Campaign. Here’s where they stand:

  • As noted above, Sen. Harris has announced her support for a GND but has not said whether she supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • We have been unable to find a published comment from Sen. Feinstein on the GND; she has taken the California-specific Oil Money Out pledge.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee was an early GND supporter and has pledged not to take campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell has previously stated his support for the proposal but has not said whether he supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has previously stated support for the concept of a GND.

Now, we need to make sure all our Members of Congress know that their constituents want a Green New Deal and that we want our representatives to lead the charge. Our representatives can show their support for the Green New Deal by publicly supporting and voting for two resolutions that will be proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We also need to push all our Representatives and Senators to take the pledge not to accept contributions from fossil fuel companies, in order to stop the corrupting influence of fossil-fuel money on the political system. 

What you can do:

Call your members of Congress by February 4, and keep calling afterwards!

What to say:

For Sen. Harris: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for endorsing the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Sen. Feinstein: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change, and for taking the Oil Money Out pledge. Please support the Green New Deal and support and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. Lee: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your leadership in endorsing the Green New Deal and taking the no fossil-fuel money pledge. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the House.

For Rep. Swalwell: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past statements supporting the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly support the proposal, including the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative Swalwell also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. DeSaulnier: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change. Please support the Green New Deal, and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative DeSaulnier also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Anne Spevack and Ann Daniels contributed to this article. 

Sylvia Chi is an attorney and activist in Oakland, with expertise on environment and energy issues. Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Above: Sunrise Movement’s graphic of Bay Area legislators on the GND.

Support the Green New Deal

Protecting Our Future
Graphic © Elected Officials to Protect America

By Anne Spevack

Deadline: right now – Support for the Green New Deal (GND) keeps growing! At the COP24 UN Climate Talks in Katowice, Poland, over 300 state and local elected officials from the U.S. signed a letter calling for a GND approach to phase out fossil fuel use. The letter calls for jurisdictions in the U.S. to take steps to produce clean and renewable energy; refuse permits for new oil, coal, and gas projects; and reduce subsidies for fossil fuels. The letter also recognizes that a concerted national effort is needed, and calls for a national GND plan to guide investment in renewable energies and move our economy away from fossil fuels.

East Bay signatories to the letter include Berkeley and Richmond mayors Jesse Arreguin and Tom Butt, and City Council members from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond, and San Leandro. Missing: mayors from every other East Bay city, many City Council members, and all our state senators and assembly members. Check to see whether your elected officials are on the letter, and if not, tell them to sign on! Don’t know who they are or how to contact them? Find them using this handy search tool.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a Member of Indivisible East Bay. I am deeply concerned about the growing hazards that climate change is creating in our communities, most recently the devastating wildfires and worsening droughts. Thank you for helping protect our local communities and environment. But there is only so much our local communities can do. We need a national plan. Please sign on to the letter from Elected Officials to Protect America at uselectedofficials.org and join the hundreds of state and local representatives calling for a Green New Deal to protect our environment and our economy.

What else you can do:

Read our recent article for background info on the Green New Deal and to learn how you can help, including by asking your Members of Congress to publicly support the proposal and to pressure House leadership to ensure it is a priority in the new congressional session.

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Face-to-face with Rep DeSaulnier

This first-hand account was written by CA-11 team members Toni Henle, Ted Lam, and Kristen Law

Representative Mark DeSaulnier met with us on December 7 to discuss his plans for the new blue Congress, and our request that he support Indivisible East Bay’s planned January 3, 2019 rally. The rally will be part of Indivisible National’s coordinated day of action at Members of Congress’s offices nationwide as the new Congress convenes. One primary aim of the January 3 rallies is to urge the House to pass H.R. 1 (House Resolution 1) as soon as possible without watering it down or breaking it up. The bill, titled “Strengthening Our Democracy,” is a bold democracy reform package focused on voter empowerment and access, getting big money out of politics, and cracking down on corruption.

We particularly wanted to hear DeSaulnier’s plans for two key committees of which he’s a member: Education and the Workforce, and Transportation and Infrastructure. He may become Chair of the Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and told us that if he does his priorities for the subcommittee include:   

  • Holding field hearings on worker protection issues in West Virginia, Michigan and other states, since the current administration has not pursued violations related to worker protection.
  • Updating the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988), which now requires employers to notify the government and workers when layoffs are planned; changes would require employers to mitigate the effects of layoffs.
  • Changing calculations of tax incentives for local jurisdictions that want to bring in large businesses, in order to make it harder for corporations to play local governments off each other; this would be done, among other ways, by requiring “proscriptive” cost-benefit analysis of any proposed deal.
  • Making higher education more accessible through a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a free public education through college.

On the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeSaulnier is committed to infrastructure development that will both reduce climate-warming pollution and improve our economy.  He told us: “In California, we’ve been able to demonstrate that both are possible.” In his position on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeSaulnier shared a desire to model “value capture” for transportation and infrastructure improvements: that is, using public financing tools that recover a share of the value transit creates. Revenue from value capture strategies can be used to repay debt incurred in financing the upfront costs of building infrastructure and fund the operations and maintenance costs of transit systems.

DeSaulnier is also a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will be conducting hearings on the Trump administration. We didn’t have time to get into specifics, but very much look forward to following that committee’s work and engaging with him about it in the future.

Other items we discussed included the Green New Deal, election security, increasing youth civic engagement, and working with Rep. John Sarbanes (D- MD) to address independent campaign expenditures, also known as dark money.

Rep. DeSaulnier agreed to provide a statement for our January 3, 2019 rally and said his staff would work with us on the specifics.

Interested in working with the CA-11 team? Email us at indivisibleca11@gmail.com

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team.

Kristen Law lives in East Richmond. When she is not working as a Community Engagement Specialist or teaching and practicing yoga, you can find her snuggling her pets, saving butterflies or testing vegan recipes. She was one of the founding members of Indivisible East Bay and co-leads the CA-11 team.

Turn the Blue Wave into the Green New Deal

By Anne Spevack

The Blue Wave created the new Blue House, ready to begin its legislative session in January 2019 – and a top priority of some incoming members of the Blue House is the multifaceted environmental/economic “Green New Deal.” Like the Blue Wave, this new plan needs all of our voices in order to succeed: We need to let our legislators know it’s a priority, and we need to tell them to tell others. There will be continuing action on this front, and we’ll keep you updated with ways to support specific Green New Deal policies as they develop. For now, you can take action by telling your Members of Congress you want them to publicly support the Green New Deal; asking them to push House leadership to make the Green New Deal a priority in the new congressional session; and asking them to follow the lead of Barbara Lee and others who support the formation of a Select Committee focused on its development and implementation (or, if Barbara Lee is your Member of Congress, thanking her!).

Keep reading for background about the Green New Deal; you’ll find information on how to contact your Members of Congress, and what to tell them, at the end of this article.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal is a blanket term for a growing set of plans and policies that aim both to transform the economy and fight climate change – in fact, to transform the economy through fighting climate change. The primary environmental goal would be to rapidly eliminate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, while the economic goal would be to reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality through government-sponsored and subsidized jobs.  Though the specific actions and policies are still being defined, initial proposals mobilize the economy by creating jobs, training, and education through investments in climate-resilient infrastructure (like sea walls, smart grids, and mass transit systems) and expansion of renewable energy production. The Green New Deal rejects traditional assumptions that anything that is good for the environment is bad for the economy, instead recognizing that green industries already employ lots of workers of a variety of skill levels, and that we have only scratched the surface of that potential.

While the term “Green New Deal” dates back to the mid-2000s and was used by President Obama to frame some of his platform supporting renewable energy and infrastructure projects, the current push to make a Green New Deal is spearheaded by some of the new progressive representatives recently elected to the House, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the youth-led Sunrise Movement. Taking a progressive mandate from the Blue Wave and understanding the urgency of climate change, these representatives-elect are already working with Democratic and progressive members of Congress to set up the House for action on climate change in the next session.

How do we get a Green New Deal?

Ultimately, the Green New Deal will be made up of individual policies, rules, and funding sources supporting sustainable industries and green jobs, but proponents are currently pushing for a comprehensive plan to guide and coordinate these actions. A proposal by Ocasio-Cortez states that the Green New Deal plan would be a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan … for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral and to significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans to promote economic and environmental justice and equality.”

Ocasio-Cortez and the new class of progressives in the House, with help from the Sunrise Movement, support the creation of a new Select Committee on a Green New Deal, which would be tasked with developing a Plan for a Green New Deal by 2020 and would serve as a focal point for related efforts. A Select Committee, unlike permanent or standing committees, is temporary and investigates a particular issue outside the realm of or at the intersection of the existing permanent Congressional committees. Although the Select Committee proposal has gained the most traction, some incumbent Members of Congress argue that maintaining the existing committee structure would allow Democrats to focus on building power and pressure in existing committees that already have the most power over purse strings and authorization.

Whatever the particular structure, Indivisible East Bay-ers know that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and demands immediate and focused action. The current proposal commits the House to make a plan for action on climate change, our economy, and environmental justice by 2020. Support among legislators is growing; our own Representative Barbara Lee recently publicly supported this proposal and we trust her experience to know that this is a viable and effective path moving forward.

What you can do:

Ask your Member of Congress to publicly support the Green New Deal and encourage House leadership to form the Select Committee. Please call to thank Representative Lee for publicly supporting the Green New Deal. Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell have indicated support; please ask them to publicly support the proposal. Ask all of them to pressure House leadership to ensure the Green New Deal is priority in the new congressional session.

What to say:

If you are represented by Rep. Lee:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for supporting the Green New Deal. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612

If you are represented by Rep. Swalwell or DeSaulnier:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. I ask you to publicly support the Green New Deal, which is the only concrete proposal to ensure action on climate change. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804

Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.