New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday unveiled new details on the so-called “Green New Deal” she plans to introduce in a matter of days, as she worked behind-the-scenes to rally congressional support for the proposal that could cost as much as $7 trillion.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is set to unveil the plan with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, told her fellow representatives in a letter that the Green New Deal calls for a “national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II.”
“Next week, we plan to release a resolution that outlines the scope and scale of the Green New Deal,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the letter, adding that the country’s near-total economic transformation should take approximately ten years.
To raise awareness for the measure, Markey announced Monday he had invited Varshini Prakash, the co-founder of the Sunrise Movement environmentalist group, to be his guest at President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. (Several other Democrats announced guests apparently intended to highlight their opposition to various Trump administration policies, while Trump himself extended invites to the family of a couple allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant and a child bullied at school for having the last name “Trump.”)
The Green New Deal proposal would lead to national net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, according to Ocasio-Cortez’s letter, “through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers,” while also generating millions of “good, high-wage jobs.” Details of the letter were first published by Bloomberg.
Through it all, the Green New Deal would additionally “promote justice and equity by preventing current and repairing historic oppression to frontline and vulnerable communities,” according to Ocasio-Cortez.
On Twitter Monday, Ocasio-Cortez reposted a claim from one of her advisers, Robert Hockett, arguing that “in this case, size matters” and that “the problems the Green New Deal addresses require solutions where bigger is better, imperative, and paraodixcally, more affordable.”
Hockett is a lawyer and law professor, and is not an expert in environmental policy.
Several analysts, meanwhile, have cautioned that the liberal firebrand is in over her head, even though the as-yet vague and uncertain details about the Green New Deal render a precise calculation impossible at the moment. Physicist Christopher Clack told The Hill that the cost would easily be into the trillions.
“It’s a daunting task, and I’m not sure that the authors of the Green New Deal fully comprehend how much they’ll need,” Clack said.
Institute for Energy Research president Tom Pyle was more blunt: “One hundred percent renewable energy defies the laws of physics. It would be impossible to achieve.”
And Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute, said progressives were overcompensating. “I understand the value of aspirational goals,” Bledsoe said. “My personal view is, that undermines the credibility of the effort.”
Nevertheless, approximately 70 Democratic lawmakers have so far tentatively endorsed a Green New Deal plan, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has vowed to address climate change, has not publicly signed onto the plan, even though scores of progressive activists – joined by Ocasio-Cortez — staged a sit-in at her House office late last year, demanding action on the climate.
While there is no legislative text yet available for the Markey/Ocasio-Cortez proposal, a draft circulated by Ocasio-Cortez last week called for a committee to be formed to create a plan, and lays out a framework that includes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture, while “dramatically” expanding energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources.
To cover what would presumably be a gargantuan cost, it envisions financing by “the federal government, using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.”
As it stands, any such proposal would be almost certainly dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, and also possibly the House — where it is not clear if a majority of Democrats would back a plan.
Even if Congress managed to pass a version of the Green New Deal, the White House could veto the legislation, and a two-thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be needed to override the veto.
The Trump administration has made clear it would not accept Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals. In January, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders derided Ocasio-Cortez’s recent claim that the world will end in 12 years due to climate change, and suggested the Trump administration has little need for the progressive firebrand’s thoughts in general.
“I don’t think we’re going to listen to [Ocasio-Cortez] on much of anything — particularly not on matters we’re gonna leave in the hands of a much, much higher authority — and certainly, not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world may end,” Sanders told Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Speaking at an event commemorating Martin Luther King Day that month, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that climate change constituted “our World War II” and added: “Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is, how are we gonna pay for it?'”
But conservative commentators have argued that most proposed solutions to global warming would do more harm than good, and also have accused climate activists of crying wolf. In 2006, a NASA scientist and leading global warming researcher declared that the world had only 10 years to avert a climate catastrophe — a deadline that has come and gone.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.