Ocasio-Cortez proposes Green New Deal

Lindsay Cook, A&E Editor

New York’s 14th District Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has sent shockwaves through the House and Senate following the release of her Green New Deal. The Green New Deal, proposed on February 7th on the House floor, is a commitment to a series of investments in “clean” energy with the intention of redesigning the United States economy so that it is no longer as dependent on nonrenewable energy resources.

The Green New Deal can initially sound much like an agreement struck between nations during maritime peace, but if put into place would solely serve as a resolution within the United States—the name itself is a reference to Roosevelt’s New Deal response to the Great Depression. Similar propositions have been touted for nearly a decade by political activists such as Jill Stein, who ran briefly as an independent for the Green Party in the 2016 presidential election. Unlike any clean-energy bills, the Green New Deal is legally nonbinding.

Despite similar propositions having already existed, Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is considered radical because it is the first attempt by any politician in the Democratic Party to make large-scale changes to the energy infrastructure of the United States since President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinforcement Act ended in 2012.

The Green New Deal calls for overarching improvement of the infrastructure of the United States to prevent further economic damage from natural disasters, through the following: eliminating pollution where possible and exchanging it for zero-emissions energy, overhauling the current transportation systems, supporting public ownership in infrastructure stakes, reinforcing the right to unionize, and by working with “frontline and vulnerable communities” to establish a more equitable workforce.

The deal has proved to be controversial between the Democratic and Republican parties, in part because of varying views on how much the resolution would actually cost. Various estimations have been made, and largely depend on how effective the Deal is expected to be in decreasing the United States’ climate impact. Ocasio-Cortez has previously estimated that the cost of the Green New Deal (if properly implemented before 2050) would cost about 3 trillion dollars, but maintains that the economic growth and the prevention of natural disasters would ultimately economically benefit the United States in the long run.

Both Republicans and Democrats are, however, concerned about the lack of specific resolution within the deal itself– it is designed to remain open-ended– because there are no specific parameters in which the sitting House or Congress has to operate in regards to implementation of any of the deal itself.

As climate change increasingly becomes a hot-button issue in the House and Senate, this deal is one of the first attempts to actively address the issue of climate change in terms of long-term solutions. Although neither parties are particularly eager about the resolution, Ocasio-Cortez’ bold move is no doubt the first of many climate change resolutions to be presented on the House floor, and undoubtedly one of the most ambitious.