2020 Candidates' Green New Deal Stances Are Already Becoming Big Sticking Points
In February 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Green New Deal Resolution to Congress, asking lawmakers to commit to enacting significant environmental reforms over the next 10 years. This proposal could play a large role in the next presidential election because of its widespread publicity and approach toward addressing climate change. So, knowing where the 2020 candidates stand on the Green New Deal may be helpful as you decide who you want to support in the 2020 presidential race and related primaries.
The Green New Deal is a non-binding congressional resolution that commits to obtaining power through 100% renewable energy sources within 10 years and to achieving a net-zero emission of fossil fuels by 2050. In addition to environmental proposals, it also contains many related policy reforms. For example, the Green New Deal proposes universal higher education and health care for all Americans, as well as a jobs guarantee, CNN noted. It also calls for the strengthening of labor laws, the outlet reported.
2020 candidates appear to vary somewhat in their stances on the Green New Deal resolution. Some support the resolution wholeheartedly, but others think its reforms don't go far enough. Some candidates are even in the process of creating their own environmental policy proposals to carry out the tenets of the Green New Deal. Notably, the resolution also has one very outspoken critic — President Donald Trump. The list below offers further insight into all of the candidates' various stances on Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's environmental resolution.
Senator Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, indicated on Fox News on Feb. 12 that she would support Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's legislation, though she called it "aspirational." She also said that her opinion may vary on any subsequent legislation that develops related to the non-binding Green New Deal.
As Klobuchar told Fox News:
I see it as aspirational, I see it as a jump-start. So I would vote yes, but I would also, if it got down to the nitty-gritty of an actual legislation as opposed to, ‘oh, here are some goals we have,’ that would be different for me.
Klobuchar added that she views the resolution as a launching point that's essential for progress. "For us to do nothing and go backwards is wrong. So I view this as a framework for discussion," she said to the network.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has enthusiastically endorsed the Green New Deal. In fact, on Jan. 25, ahead of Markey and Ocasio-Cortez's introduction of the legislation, she tweeted her strong support for the idea. As the senator wrote:
Climate change is an immediate and catastrophic threat to our future. And yes, it's real. We need to: Get to net-zero carbon emissions; Invest in clean energy and green jobs; Update infrastructure and build community resiliency. We need a #GreenNewDeal, and we need it now.
Grist also reported that Gillibrand sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works outlining how exactly she believes the tenants of the Green New Deal could be implemented.
Moreover, The Hill reported on March 4 that Gillibrand said that the Green New Deal can and should receive bipartisan support. As the senator told CBS This Morning:
These are not new ideas. It is infrastructure, which is wildly bipartisan. More money for mass transit, more money for electric grids, more money for rural water supplies. Roads, bridges, everything. The second piece is jobs. It’s all about training people to do wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biofuels. And the third part of the Green New Deal is clean air and clean water, and I can’t think of a more universal issue.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat, told CNN's State of the Union on Feb. 10 that the Green New Deal represented a good start at addressing environmental issues in the United States. As Buttigieg said on the show:
Yes, I think it's [the Green New Deal] the right beginning ... it matches a sense of urgency about that problem of climate change with a sense of opportunity around what the solutions might represent.
Democrat and California Senator Kamala Harris has enthusiastically embraced the Green New Deal. Notably, she wrote a post on Medium on Feb. 8 announcing that she had signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation. In her post, Harris described why she believes it's important to support the legislation. As the senator noted:
For too long, we have been governed by lawmakers who are beholden to big oil and big coal. They have refused to act on climate change. So it’s on us to speak the truth ... climate change is real, and it is an existential threat to our country, our planet, and our future ... The Green New Deal ... will repair our country’s crumbling infrastructure, upgrade buildings across the nation, and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In her post, Harris also encouraged readers to sign a petition to stand with her in supporting the Green New Deal.
Cory Booker, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, suggested at an Iowa campaign rally in February that supporting the Green New Deal is a bold step that America needs to take to protect its future, Real Clear Politics reported. As the senator described at the rally (via Real Clear Politics):
Our planet is in peril and we need to be bold. There are a lot of people out there pushing back against the Green New Deal, saying it is impractical, it is too expensive, it is all of this ... If we used to govern our dreams that way, we would have never gone to the Moon ... That ball in the sky? That's impractical ... [But] We are a nation that had done impossible things before ... we need to be bold again in America. We need to have dreams that other people say are impossible.
Warren is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts. On Jan. 2, Axios reported that the senator said she supports the "idea" of the legislation. As a senate aide told the publication:
Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice.
Warren also suggested on her campaign website that funds from her proposed "ultra millionaire tax" on the 75,000 wealthiest households in America could finance down payments on the Green New Deal, along with other progressive initiatives.
Julián Castro, a Democrat, formerly served as the secretary of housing and urban development under President Obama and was also a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. During a speech announcing his 2020 candidacy, Castro espoused his support for the Green New Deal and environmental reforms more broadly. "As President, my first executive order will recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord," he said on Jan. 12 (via MSN). "We’re gonna say no to subsidizing big oil and say yes to passing a Green New Deal."
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic U.S. representative from Hawaii, has repeatedly stressed that she supports significant environmental reforms in the United States. Though, she's also suggested that the Green New Deal is too "vague" and doesn't put forth concrete environmental initiatives, The Hill reported. "I have some concerns with the Green New Deal, and about some of the vagueness of the language in there, so have not co-sponsored the legislation," she said on ABC's The View on Feb. 20.
During her appearance on the show, Gabbard did stress that she remains highly committed to environmental issues. "I first got involved with politics as an environmentalist," she said on The View. "I fought very hard to make sure that everyone has clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and I think we need to take serious action to address climate change."
The Hill also noted that Gabbard's concerns about the Green New Deal lie somewhat in contrast with her previous support for the initiative. Notably, during a press conference announcing the legislation in November, Gabbard said (via The Hill), "I am proud to stand here together with our friends, our allies, our colleagues, to fight for a green energy economy, the [Off Fossil Fuels] Act, other legislation that is there and a Green New Deal."
Sanders is a U.S. Senator from Vermont who is an independent but will run in the Democratic primary. As the The Guardian reported, Sanders actually championed many of the ideas that are in the Green New Deal as part of his Climate Action Plan during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Now, as a 2020 candidate, he plans to put forth his own version of a Green New Deal, NBC News reported. Sanders' communications director, Josh Miller-Lewis, told the outlet that the senator is creating a "comprehensive" proposal which "builds on the [Green New Deal] resolution that was introduced and fleshes out a lot of those details." The Washington Post added that Sanders' forthcoming plan will focus heavily on producing a detailed strategy on how to zero out carbon emissions.
Williamson is an author and is well-known for serving as Oprah's spiritual adviser. She is running as a Democrat. Willamson's campaign website indicates she is highly committed to environmental reforms, including the Green New Deal:
A Green New Deal would provide an overall strategy for how clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and transportation, and a national green jobs program can revitalize our economy and utilize our innovative and human capacity to benefit all our people.
Williamson's website also pointedly emphasizes that she believes the United States needs to transition away from the use of nuclear energy, invest in renewable energy, and rejoin the Paris Agreement, among other initiatives.
The Associated Press reported that Jay Inslee, Democratic governor of Washington, has indicated he's highly committed to advancing environmental protection policies. However, the outlet said that Inslee thinks of the Green New Deal as "aspirational" and not a true policy document. To that end, he's committed to developing his own environmental reform policy. As Inslee described to the AP on March 2:
I will be rolling out my own proposed [environmental] policy. It will be comprehensive. It will be robust. It will have a sector-by-sector approach which will be targeted to reduction of carbon pollution and job creation in each sector.
Unlike most of his Democratic colleagues, John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman, has dismissed the Green New Deal as being unrealistic. As Delaney tweeted on Feb. 14:
The Green New Deal as it has been proposed is about as realistic as Trump saying that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Let's focus on what's possible, not what's impossible.
As WMUR 9 reported, Delaney suggested he doesn't support the Green New Deal because he believes climate change should be addressed separately from other issues, like health care. “I actually don’t think the Green New Deal is the way to go,” he said during a speech in New Hampshire on Feb. 12 (via WMUR 9). “The reason is that I want to do something about fixing climate change tomorrow. I don’t want to tie it to fixing health care."
Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, has suggested that he likely supports the Green New Deal resolution, the New York Times reported. Fox News noted that, during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Hickenlooper said that while he hasn't yet read the resolution, he's "going to guess that 99% of what’s in the Green New Deal I will be happy to embrace." However, he added that he doesn't think the resolution should be "a litmus test that you’re either with us or wrong."
Fox News also reported that, during an interview with the outlet, Hickenlooper stressed that "we do need to take a much more aggressive approach to dealing with climate change."
Yang is an entrepreneur who founded Venture for America. He is running as a Democrat. The 2020 contender was asked by a Twitter user back in January what his position is on the Green New Deal. In response, Yang replied that he is "aligned and on board."
As Climate Change News reported, Yang wants the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement, to end fossil fuel subsidies, and to move toward 100% clean energy, among other initiatives.
Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, who's running as a Democrat, said in a recent interview with City Lab that he supports both the purpose and urgency of the Green New Deal. As Messam described to the outlet:
The [UN] Climate Change report ... basically states that if we don't act in 10 years there will be irreversible damage to the air that we breathe and the water that we drink, that is an alarming statistic. I think right now there's a lot of talk about climate change obviously with [the Green New Deal] that was sent down in Washington. I support the urgency, and the end goal of that proposal. There's no question that we must take immediate action when it comes to climate change.
Ryan, a Democratic congressman from Ohio, appears to have some doubts about the tenets of the Green New Deal resolution. During an interview with the Washington Examiner in March 2017, he told the outlet, "I appreciate the aspiration [of the Green New Deal], but I won’t be signing on." ABC News also reported on April 4 that Ryan appeared to imply that he had concerns about the Green New Deal during remarks he made in New Hampshire. "You can’t green the economy without the power of the free-market system," Ryan said, per ABC News.
O'Rourke, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, has previously espoused his strong support for the Green New Deal, calling it the "best" climate change proposal he's seen.
"I'm really excited about the leadership there to meet our commitment [to halting global warming] to the generations that follow," O'Rourke said to BuzzFeed News on Feb. 11. "It [the Green New Deal] is the best proposal that I've seen to ensure that this planet does not warm another two degrees celsius, after which we may lose the ability to live in places like El Paso."
Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, announced his presidential run in early April. The congressman has been openly supportive of the Green New Deal and has particularly praised its job creation aspirations. As Swalwell said in an interview with Fox News in January 2019:
When it comes to climate change, we need to advance policies that don’t ask Americans to choose between their jobs and clean air and water ... I welcome a Green New Deal and am excited to offer additional ideas to create meaningful jobs and address the crisis of climate change.
Bennet, a Democratic senator from Colorado, generally supports reforms to combat climate change. However, as Danielle Haynes of United Press International (UPI) described, "Unlike some of his fellow Democratic candidates, he was not one of the co-sponsors or vocal supporters of the Green New Deal." Haynes did note that Bennet has indicated that he supports wind and solar tax credits, among other environmental initiatives. Bennet's campaign website also reveals that he supports renewable energy investments.
Former Vice President Biden supports initiatives to counter climate change, but, as the Washington Post reported, he hasn't specifically backed the Green New Deal. Biden shares his views on tackling climate change on his campaign website, which notes:
Climate change threatens communities across the country, from beachfront coastal towns to rural farms in the heartland. We must turbocharge our efforts to address climate change and ensure that every American has access to clean drinking water, clean air, and an environment free from pollutants.
Moulton, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, endorsed the Green New Deal back in December 2018. A statement on Moulton's congressional website reveals that he believes that addressing climate change constitutes a top priority:
I am proud to announce my support for the Green New Deal. No issue is more important today for our children and our grandchildren than addressing climate change. And if we do so successfully, our nation will be stronger, our economy will be stronger, our communities will be more resilient, and the futures of our children and grandchildren will be much brighter.
Weld, a Republican and former governor of Massachusetts, is the first GOP contender who has declared that he plans to run against President Trump in the party's primary. During an interview with the New Yorker on March 5, Weld noted that he needs to learn more about the Green New Deal before he makes a final decision about where he stands on the resolution.
As Weld told the outlet:
You know, I’ve got to study that more than I have. It sounds pretty expensive, and I think some of what’s coming out of the left hand of the Democratic Party is probably more than I could sit still for. But I do think that, at bottom, Europe has its monuments and its cathedrals, and we’ve got our mountains and our valleys and our rivers and our streams, and we better damn well take care of them.
Weld also added that he has firsthand experience with fighting to preserve and protect natural resources. "When I was U.S. Attorney, I brought this suit to clean up Boston Harbor, and it was very expensive, and it took years and years and years," he told the New Yorker. "But the harbor is now swimmable and fishable, which it sure wasn’t when I started. That’s the sort of thing we’ve got to do now."
President Trump has repeatedly criticized the Green New Deal. For example, as Fox News reported on March 2, the president characterized the resolution as "extreme" and suggested that he looks forward to running against Democrats who support the idea. As Trump described during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (via Fox News):
Perhaps nothing is more extreme than the Democrats' plan to completely take over American energy ... The Green New Deal, or whatever the hell they call it, I encourage it ... No planes, no energy... When the wind stops blowing, that's the end of your electric[ity]. This is the new Democratic platform ... I don't want to talk them out of it ... I just want to be the Republican who runs against them.
Considering how extensively many 2020 contenders have already discussed the Green New Deal, it's likely that the resolution will play a significant role during the presidential campaign season. For voters who consider environmental issues — and related policy areas — a top priority, candidate stances on the resolution could be a deciding factor in determining who they will support as campaign season unfolds.