Updated: Apr 6, 2022
The Republican Party is split between two factions when it comes to Climate-- those who don't believe it's even a thing and confuse it with the weather report and thosee who believe it but aren't interested in doing anything about it. The Democrats are also split between two factions-- those who believe it and pay lip service to doing something about it and those who are serious about the problem and want to save the planet. The latter is a minority-- a small one. Illinois Democrat Sean Casten, a bit of a garden variety corporate shill-- and a New Dem-- first ran for Congress on a vaguely "environmental platform." He's been a giant disappointment ever since, predictable since he's a former fossil fuel CEO and lobbyist, accepts thousands in campaign contributions from BP, Exelon, and Chevron, and owns a major stake in a company cited for violating the Clean Water Act. Today he's running an ugly primary campaign against committed Climate leader Marie Newman, who was one of the first incumbents in the House to sign onto the Green New Deal pledge. As you might guess, the New Dems, Blue Dogs and the Republicans have refused to sign the pledge. This morning, Newman told me she thinks "it is critically important we do everything in our power to address climate change, not just market based solutions, which is why I signed the Green New Deal pledge again. I’m sorry and saddened that my opponent does not support aggressive climate action and takes hundreds of thousands from corporate PAC money to keep climate action minimized."
Michigan progressive Andy Levin finds himself in the same position-- being primaried by a complacent New Dem (Haley Stevens) who pays lip-service to Climate now and then-- although at an AIPAC event recently she called Levin's transformational positions "pie in the sky." So far 7 climate organizations have endorsed in the primary-- 7 for Levin, zero for Stevens. This morning, Levin told me he's "immensely proud to be an original Green New Deal Champion with an amazing list of colleagues and friends. It is easy to say that climate change is an existential crisis, but words aren’t enough-- we need real legislation that delivers rapid, comprehensive, transformative change. While organizers continue to strengthen and define the Green New Deal from the bottom, this project holds those in power accountable to the demands of activists and cements robust economic and racial justice standards in the Green New Deal. We have a long way to go, but I encourage every Congressperson to join me in taking this next step. Together, we will win a Green New Deal this decade."
Blue America has endorsed Marie Newman and Andy Levin in this existential battle against the forces of denial and complacency and I want to remind you that you can contribute to both of their campaigns here.
Last week, the New Republic's Kate Aronoff explained exactly what the Green New Deal pledge is. "It’s intended to further define what it means for both sitting and aspiring federal lawmakers to support the Green New Deal, adding meat to the bones of a framework critics have long accused of being both too broad and not specific enough... [Henceforth] being a 'Green New Champion' will mean not merely signing on to that resolution but backing a suite of nine bills that includes Green New Deals for Schools, Public Housing, and Cities. Though candidates are being asked to sign the pledge, it’s also a means of holding currently serving members to the same standards.
So what exactly do these climate champions hope to gain with their new pledge and more stringent definition of what it means to back the Green New Deal? They say that, while under no illusions their suite of bills will pass anytime soon, they want to be prepared for the next time there’s a legislative opening.
“We knew from the beginning that this package [Build Back Better] was never going to be the Green New Deal,” says Adrien Salazar, policy director of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, a network signed on to the pledge. “Even if we win the small slice of it that folks are still negotiating-- as large as those investments could be-- it would be insufficient. This pledge is charting the long course of this fight,” Salazar added. “If we’re actually talking about winning a Green New Deal, we will need strong bills that delineate the bold vision we need. And we need them to be ready to come off the shelf.”
...Progressives more broadly worry that Democrats are walking into the midterms without much to show for themselves, and climate groups have had to pivot somewhat awkwardly around what to do about rising gas prices. Still, they reason, voter worries about climate policy aren’t going away. If Democrats want people to come out to vote, phonebank, and knock doors for them, they’ll need to treat them as something other than expendable: They’ll need at least to give voters a taste of what Democrats stand for. As Squad-style progressive primary challengers proliferate, the pledge gives them a chance to differentiate themselves from incumbents-- and a way for those incumbents to step up that goes beyond rhetoric.
“The reality is that a Green New Deal is popular, and we don’t have the luxury of waiting to take action for our children’s future,” Greg Casar, who recently won his primary for Texas’s 35th congressional district, said over email. Asked about what fighting for a Green New Deal looks like while Democrats are in the minority, he said the party will “continue to organize with working people, because a Green New Deal is our path to accomplishing progress for working families everywhere.”
The irony of this moment is that while the Green New Deal’s legislative prospects look about as bleak as they ever have, the case for them has never looked better. More than 65 percent of likely voters support Green New Deal measures for cities, public housing, and schools despite their still minuscule support in the House and Senate, recent polling from Data for Progress found. And in addition to the the steady drumbeat of climate disasters and sobering studies released since the Green New Deal was first unveiled, the invasion of Ukraine has made a new case for massive investments in renewables and energy efficiency. The security risk of relying on fossil fuels’ authoritarian-stacked supply chains has never been more obvious, and slashing domestic oil and gas demand is among the quickest things the United States can do to ensure energy security abroad. Bringing on new drilling and export terminals could take years, but if Americans start consuming fewer fossil fuels-- via new energy efficiency or public transit initiatives-- that could free up already flowing fuel to head to Europe, proving especially useful if Russia decides to turn off the gas taps.
For now, Green New Deal advocates aren’t even close to calling the shots in Congress. Meanwhile, world events continue to make the case for the policies they support.
This morning, Philly progressive Alexandra Hunt told me that she had signed the pledge because "the Green New Deal and tackling the climate crisis is the primary, most concerning, urgent issue we’re running on. We have to move on climate action now. We had to move on it yesterday. If our planet is uninhabitable, the rest of our concerns fall to the wayside as human life ceases to exist and mass destruction, famine, migration, homelessness, and suffering develops globally." Her opponent, pretend progressive Dwight Evans does not support the Green New Deal likely due, at least in part, to his personal investments in the fossil fuel industry and in major polluters such as ExxonMobil, Suncor, Oneok, and the Williams Companies. I might add that Evans also opposes efforts to ban fracking.
Virtually all of the Blue America-endorsed House candidates have already signed the pledge and you can contribute to their campaigns by tapping on the interactive 2022 congressional thermometer on the left. One of the first to do so, was northwest Washington Jason Call-- who's running for a seat occupied by do-nothing New Dem Rick Larsen. This morning he told me that he "signed the GND pledge because climate action is the top priority for any kind of spending, and there are concrete actions that can be taken by Congress to address it. Actions encompass a wide array of targets that we would want to address even if climate weren’t the top priority, so there’s an intersectional aspect to focusing on climate. We have to reduce military spending, since the U.S. military is the most polluting non-state entity on earth. We can solve infrastructure, transportation, and housing problems, as well as underemployment and living wages, through the federal jobs guarantee aspect of the Green New Deal. Signing the pledge simply is a way for me to highlight that these policies, all of them, have been a priority for me since I started campaigning in 2019. The reason I’m running in this district is incumbent Rick Larsen is funded by fossil fuels and the war machine, has rejected the Green New Deal as ‘not an important resolution’, and has throughout his career taken votes against climate action on behalf of his corporate donors. The people of this district stand to be impacted by rising tides more than most, and they are ready for a representative who takes their future seriously."
Though on the other side of the country (Rhode Island), like Jason, this is exactly in David Segal's wheel house. "Environmentalism generally, and fighting climate change," he told me today, "have long been priorities for me. A GND would not only help limit the impacts of climate change, but would create millions of jobs-- and create clean energy independence that would reduce the potential for various untoward foreign entanglements and the impacts thereof. Moreover, it should be seen as part of a broader emerging understanding that we need a real industrial policy in America. (Biden's recent invocation of the Defense Production Act is potentially a positive step in these directions.) And I'm proud to have helped lead efforts to get early renewables legislation in place in Rhode Island, for instance making Providence the first capital city to adopt a renewable energy mandate, and advancing three iterations of 'net metering' rules to make it easier for families and businesses to install solar panels and wind turbines. And while I was a member of the House here I organized a 'blue-green' table to help bring labor and environmentalists into better alignment on some of these issues. (The Blue America team might even remember that I ran on what we called a 'Green New Deal' back in 2010...) We do remember, which is part of the reasons it was so easy to endorse Segal again this cycle-- that and the fact that none of the establishment candidates running against him in the primary have signed onto the pledge.
Brittany Ramos DeBarros, is running in a newly blue Staten Island-Brooklyn district that is represented by Republican Nicole Malliotakis, who has no interest in addressing Climate. Brittany's primary opponent is worthless Blue Dog Max Rose, who was voted out of office after one miserable term at least in part because he ignored Climate Change. There's little difference between Malliotakis and Rose when it comes to Climate except for hot air. Needless to say, neither has signed the pledge. Brittany has and told me that it's "a great way to help voters and supports connect with candidates who are truly committed to addressing climate crisis and protecting our environment. Climate collapse is one of the most pressing existential threats we face and I am both proud and saddened that I am the only candidate in my race, Democrat or Republican, who has the courage to fight for a Green New Deal. We are running out of time. We cannot afford more false solutions and slippery phrases concocted by PR firms for candidates to pay lip service while sidestepping real commitment to policies at the scale necessary to deliver meaningful results. This pledge will help voters as concerned about climate change as I am cut through the bulls*t and support candidates who mean business when it comes to putting people and planet over profit."
Progressive Democrat Melanie D'Arrigo is also running in New York-- the new Long Island Sound district. She's running against a pack of establishment careerists, most of whom don't know what the Green New Deal is are who seem to all be confused about what Climate Action is as well. "Too many moderate and conservative Democrats go to Congress with vague statements and empty slogans of how they will address our climate emergency," she told me. "There needs to be accountability. I'm proud to be an original signer of this year's Green New Deal Pledge which outlines specific bills, strategies and actions that I will take when elected and that I must be held accountable to. NY-03 is a coastal community that has been ravaged by extreme weather, pollution and that is quickly running out of drinkable water. We need bold climate action now that matches the scale and urgency of this crisis to save our communities. It is critical that we realize a Green New Deal." Unwilling to sign the Green New Deal pledge: John Lafazan, Alessandra Biaggi, and the Bobbsey Twins (John Kaiman and Rob Zimmerman), who are basically interchangeable).
Ally Dalsimer, the progressive candidate taking on complacent establishment New Dem Gerry Connolly in DC's Virginia suburbs, has working in the environmental movement fir her whole career. She told me she "signed the Green New Deal Pledge because I believe it, point blank period. I’ve spent 30 years fighting for aggressive climate action within the system, starting multi-national initiatives, managing multi million dollar environmental programs, and standing up to corrupt and corporate interests who try to delay or roll back environmental progress. My opponent, Gerry Connolly, has not signed it for the same reason: he doesn’t actually believe in it. You can’t take thousand every year from Virginia’s biggest fossil fuel company and then turn around and pretend you’re a champion of climate. It just doesn’t work."
Neal Walia is the progressive challenging entrenched incumbent, Diana DeGette, in a district (basically, the city of Denver) that is way more progressive than she is. Neal is actively campaigning on Climate action. "The climate crisis requires bold legislation that meets the moment we’re in," he told me, just like he tells Denver voters. "To begin getting us towards the Green New Deal, we must pass the climate bills that begin to make the GND a reality-- the Green New Deal is our North Star and the GND bills help us get there. When members of Congress and/or Congressional candidates sign onto the Green New Deal Pledge, it means that they support the Green New Deal resolution, and other bills that aim at stopping the climate crisis. And doing so doesn’t make them just a supporter of the Green New Deal, but a Green New Deal Champion, because they’re championing people and the environment over fossil fuel corporations. Right now we have over 20 members of Congress that are GND Champions, nearly 50 congressional candidates that have signed onto the pledge, and nearly 50 organizations that have endorsed this pledge. These organizations represent the growing movement for the GND-- from labor unions, to racial justice organizations, climate organizations and more. Unfortunately, my opponent does not support the Green New Deal, which to me signals a lack of resolve and commitment to systemic climate justice. Instead, she would rather host a performative committee hearings to ask Oil and Gas CEO's "what’s causing these record gas prices & how to lower them," and to ask them "why, if the price of oil has fallen, are Americans still paying record high prices at the pump?" We all know the answer to these questions. The time for performative and reactive leadership is over. We need our members of Congress to act now to save the environment, and if they aren't championing the Green New Deal, we must vote them out of office."
Blue America's most recent endorsee, San Diego progressive Joaquin Vazquez is running for a seat running against another corrupt New Dem, Juan Vargas. Vazquez campaigns on the urgency of the global climate crisis. "As a future elected official," he said, "I must do everything within my power to help reverse the effects of climate change and leave behind a world that future generations can thrive in and enjoy. We do this through intentional policy that effectively addresses industrial practices that have been detrimental to our environment. Practices that have gone unchecked due to politicians who are knee-deep in fossil fuel corporate money. I signed the Green New Deal pledge to unequivocally show my commitment to introduce and champion policies beyond adding my name to a resolution without teeth, and to let it be on record so that I can be held accountable by the people. The reasons why my opponent, Rep. Juan Vargas, has not signed it is clear: he does not intend to do the same, nor does he want to be held accountable by the people, and his record speaks for itself."
San Diego multimillionaire New Dem Scott Peters is one of California's most reactionary Democrats-- and a loud opponent of doing anything about Climate Change. His opponent this cycle is Guam-born progressive Kylie Taitano. This afternoon she told me that she signed the Green New Deal pledge, because "as a climate refugee, my family and I experienced firsthand the devastating consequences of climate change. I was born and raised on the US Pacific island territory of Guam. In 2002, a particularly bad typhoon hit the island, causing about $1 billion dollars worth of damage. Our infrastructure was completely wiped out-- we were out of power for months. To conserve on utilities, my dad had to hand feed my siblings and I so we wouldn't get dirty. My mom would put out buckets of water to sit in the sun all day so my siblings and I could have a hot bath. And I remember going to school without power. My parents made the difficult decision to leave our friends, family and community behind and move to the mainland to provide my siblings and I with better opportunities in the hopes that we wouldn't experience that again. Thanks to corporate greed, our leaders have let the situation get out of hand, so there's no escaping the climate crisis anywhere. Here in San Diego, we are dealing with increased damage to our coastline and record-setting wildfires. My opponent, Representative Scott Peters, is on record for his opposition to the Green New Deal. He says "I don’t think it’s bold and I don’t think it's action... it contains some things in here that I just don't agree with. Like guaranteed jobs from the federal government or free college."
To be clear, Kylie is referring to a Democrat, not a Republican! She concluded that "It's clear we're in an 'all hands on deck' situation in urgently reversing the effects of the climate crisis in a timely manner. It's clear that any solution involves mobilizing every aspect of our country. I support the Green New Deal, and I support the federal jobs guarantee because we need to ensure that the everyday, rank and file workers in the fossil fuel, factory farming, and other industries that will be disrupted are taken care of."
Another California progressive candidate, Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, told me he took the Green New Deal Pledge "because I believe that it is the minimum action that we can take to address the climate crisis. Not signing onto this pledge is unconscionable and a signal to fossil fuel interests that 'nothing will substantively change.' The most recent >IPCC report is clear. Climate change is here. But, we also possess the solutions to address it. We only lack political will. The Green New Deal is the floor on which we build a livable future. Any politician not signing the pledge has their head in the sand. Just look up." His opponents in the race, Jan Perry, Sydney Kamlager, Michael Shure and Baltazar "Bong" Fedalizo have all refused to sign on.
We're in the middle of the vetting process for New Jersey progressive David Ocampo, a pledge signatory who is running for an empty New Jersey congressional seat that the Hudson County Machine in determined to deliver for Bob Menendez's unaccomplished son (not a signatory-- neither father nor son). Ocampo points out that "As a coastal community bordering the Hudson River, New Jersey’s 8th district is particularly vulnerable to climate change. By some estimates, the Hudson River is expected to rise 4 - 6 feet in the next 60 years, which means we don’t have until 2050 to fix this. We’ve already seen a rise in severe flooding and extreme weather events over the past few years. This is an issue I hear about every day from constituents and they deserve concrete action. I signed the pledge because half-measures and empty words won't cut it, only bold legislation will. I support the Green New Deal because it addresses the threat with an accelerated time frame that calls for us to achieve net-zero emissions within 10 years. At the same time, it recognizes that this is an opportunity to revitalize our economy and rebuild our infrastructure in a sustainable way. I'm the only candidate in this race who is treating climate change with the urgency it deserves and who has made concrete legislative commitments to tackle the threat. I'm also the only candidate who is refusing contributions from corporate PACs, fossil-fuel, and lobbyists. I will always prioritize the health of our residents, climate, and democracy over industry profits."
So far just 3 senators have signed the pledge: Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Here in California, Alex Padilla claims to be a progressive. Is he having trouble finding the bottled line? There a 19 House incumbents who have signed on so far:
Andy Levin (D-MI)
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Cori Bush (D-MO)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Marie Newman (D-IL)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Chuy Garcia (D-IL)
Mondaire Jones (D-NY)
Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Nanette Barragan (D-CA)
If your own member hasn't signed, give them a jingle and ask them why.