“New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers as legislators seek to curb an unsightly and omnipresent source of litter,” the New York Times reports.
“You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the south Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint.”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), delivering an impassioned defense of the Green New Deal after a GOP congressman attacked the resolution as an elitist plan created by “rich liberals from New York of California.”
“Senate Republicans are trying to elevate the ideas and personalities of House Democrats in a bid to divide the opposition into the rising liberal stars, the party’s presidential contenders and its more mainstream lawmakers,” the Washington Post reports.
“The effort begins with a midweek vote on the Green New Deal, a loosely defined effort to combat climate change by dramatically reducing greenhouse-gas emissions coupled with job creation… He has taken the original Green New Deal proposal, put it in his own resolution and scheduled what amounts to a show vote as the bill lacks the votes in the Republican-led Senate. But it’s doubtful the strategy will produce any immediate signs of division, as Democrats have largely rallied around the strategy from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to vote present.”
The Hill: “Senators are leaving Thursday and will return to Washington on March 25. The Senate will vote on whether or not to take up the Green New Deal resolution after they wrap up consideration of a circuit court nominee.”
“The Green New Deal will need 60 votes to get over the procedural hurdle, something it stands little chance of doing in a GOP-controlled Senate where most Democrats are expected to vote present and Republicans won’t support it.”
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) said the ideas behind the Green New Deal are “tantamount to genocide,” Axios reports.
He added: “That may be an overstatement but not by a whole lot.”
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN that he believes climate change could threaten economic growth.
“It’s a position that puts him at odds with the Trump administration and the President himself, who has openly questioned whether the climate is warming at all.”
Said Hassett: “It’s something people should take seriously and think about.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has an interesting explanation for why he thinks climate change isn’t real, Axios reports.
Said Gosar: “Unfortunately you haven’t been taught about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. That’s a problem in today’s world. We haven’t taught kids exactly what’s going on in America and in science.”
“The White House plans to create an ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter its conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet,” the Washington Post reports.
“The National Security Council initiative would include scientists who question the severity of climate impacts and the extent to which humans contribute to the problem… The group would not be subject to the same level of public disclosure as a formal advisory committee.”
“The move would represent the Trump administration’s most forceful effort to date to challenge the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are helping drive global warming.”
“The White House is working to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post, a conclusion that federal intelligence agencies have affirmed several times since President Trump took office.”
“The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which would be established by executive order, is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director. Happer, an emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University, has said that carbon emissions linked to climate change should be viewed as an asset rather than a pollutant.”
James Hohmann: “Politics doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. In this era of brinkmanship and braggadocio, when official Washington lurches from crisis to crisis, with shutdowns and smash-mouth politics, policymakers sometimes forget that one person does not need to lose for another person to win.”
“The Senate’s 92-to-8 vote last night to advance the biggest public lands bill in a decade, maybe even a generation, amid divided government is a case study for how lawmaking is supposed to work. There were compromises that delivered a little something for everyone across the ideological spectrum, even if no one really got everything they wanted. Unlike so much legislation that gets drafted at the last minute and passed in the middle of the night, this circulated and percolated for years. There were hearings, markups and good-faith negotiations. When a handful of holdouts tried to insert poison pills during the amendment process to torpedo the bill, Republicans and Democrats stuck together. It was old-school and harked back to a time when Congress worked.”
Jonathan Chait: “The fallout from the Green New Deal rollout last week can be felt in the form of a new round of stories explaining what went wrong. Reports in Vox and the Washington Post focus on a set of frequently asked questions prepared by the staff of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and then clumsily obfuscated, which left the policy open to ridicule and easy attack.”
“But the trouble with the Green New Deal wasn’t just an unvetted fact sheet. As Mike Pesca points out, very few environmental experts consider the targets laid out in the plan to be remotely attainable. Climate change experts have called for zeroing out emissions in the power sector by 2050, while the Green New Deal proposes doing so by 2030. On what basis does it maintain the time frame can be accelerated by two-thirds? It does not say. If my plan for retirement is to have a million dollars in the bank when I’m 70, and then I decide the new plan is to have a million dollars when I’m 50, is that progress? Or just empty sloganeering?”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Senate would hold an upcoming vote on the Green New Deal resolution introduced last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), CNBC reports.
Said McConnell: “I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate to give everybody an opportunity to go on record.”
Axios: “McConnell wants to get Senate Democrats, especially the 2020 presidential election hopefuls, on the record about their support of the sweeping climate resolution.”
“The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact. It’s just not possible.”
— Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), in an interview with VegNews.
“Prominent Democrats have rushed to embrace the Green New Deal — and Republicans couldn’t be happier about it,” Politico reports.
“As liberal groups pressure presidential candidates and lawmakers to back the ambitious climate proposal, Republicans hope their opponents may drift so far to the left that they will be more vulnerable in 2020. Since the election of President Donald Trump — who dismisses the link between carbon emissions and rising temperatures — Republicans have mostly steered clear of climate change, but in the Green New Deal they see a chance to pivot the argument back towards economics as growing majorities accept the underlying science.”
“President Trump announced that he will nominate David Bernhardt, a veteran lobbyist who has helped orchestrate the administration’s push to expand oil and gas drilling as the Interior Department’s number-two official, to serve as the next secretary,” the Washington Post reports.
“If confirmed, Bernhardt, a 49-year old Colorado native known for his unrelenting work habits, would be well positioned to roll back even more of the Obama-era conservation policies he has worked to unravel since joining Interior a year and-a-half ago. He has helmed the department as acting secretary since Jan. 2, when Ryan Zinke resigned amid multiple ethics probes.”
A new study says that climate change “will impose the greatest economic losses on Republican-leaning areas of the country that are almost uniformly resisting new efforts to combat it,” CNN reports.
“In the study, researchers at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program found that states, counties and congressional districts that voted Republican in 2016 and 2018 will suffer greater economic and environmental damages from a changing climate over the coming decades than places that voted Democratic in the past two elections. As a share of income, rural areas that now break predominantly for the GOP will likewise suffer greater losses than the metropolitan centers that have become the backbone of the Democratic coalition.”
“Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data,” the Washington Post reports.
“In the two decades before President Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last year’s $72 million in fines was 85% below that amount.”