Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both from the more radical wing of the Democratic Party, have introduced a bill, along with other lawmakers, calling on President Joe Biden to declare a national emergency on climate change.
If passed, this legislation would allow President Joe Biden to direct additional funds towards the issue without further Congressional approval. Sanders’ proposed legislation follows a statement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who suggested that the President should declare a climate emergency to take action by means of emergency powers.
Newsweek reported that the Senate majority leader commented to Rachel Maddow that “Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which was not an emergency.” “But if ever there was an emergency, that’s the weather. So I would suggest that they explore the possibility of considering climate as an emergency, which would give them more flexibility.”
However, the proposal will face difficulty passing the sixty votes to avoid a Senate filibuster, AP reports. It will likely not only find resistance among Republicans, but such a bill is also likely to be opposed by more moderate Democrats who are warier of climate change measures that could negatively affect other sectors of the economy. Further, with a 10-vote majority in the House of Representatives, it isn’t entirely clear if such a proposal would even make it to the Senate.
Sanders’ proposed bill cites a statement by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which calls for “far-reaching, multi-level, cross-sectoral climate mitigation” to fight climate change.
Democratic Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez stated that “this is a political crisis of inaction. It will take political will, political courage for us to address this problem with the urgency that the next generation needs.”
The proposed legislation calls for Biden to invest in major projects to prepare U.S. infrastructure for the projected impacts of climate change. It also calls on the President to invest in clean energy solutions that are “socially and racially fair.”
Sanders’ ally in this, Ocasio-Cortez, emphasized a 12-year deadline to take action on climate change, something she said is not a deadline for Congress to pass legislation, but for a plan to go into effect and begin limiting carbon pollution.
For his part, the Democratic senator said no plan will be implemented unless “we have the courage to stand up to the greed and dishonesty of the fossil fuel industry. They lie every day. They try to obfuscate what they are doing in terms of carbon emissions and what that means for the planet.”
Sanders added that “Donald Trump’s ignorance” had to be fought and that this is part of the climate change battle.
The AP report stated that the bill has the support of dozens of environmental groups that have pushed Biden to act quickly and aggressively on climate change.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of eradicating fossil fuel pollution from the energy sector by 2035 and from the U.S. economy overall by 2050, accelerating what is already market-driven growth in solar and wind power, and decreasing the country’s dependence on oil and gas. Plus, he already re-joined the Paris Climate Agreement.
The aggressive plan, AP reports, aims to curb human-caused global warming that is magnifying extreme weather events, such as deadly wildfires in the West and torrential rains and hurricanes in the East.
Biden signed executive orders on Jan. 27th to halt oil and gas leasing on federal lands and target subsidies for those industries, although the impact of such a measure might be limited because not many fracking projects are on federal lands.