by Luis Miguel
House Democrats released a plan for combating “climate change” this week, calling for the doctrine of “environmental justice” to figure prominently in American environmental policy.
The massive 547-page document was presented by Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “Environmental justice must be at the center of federal climate and environmental policy,” it reads in the opening description of the pillars of the Climate Crisis Action Plan.
The document’s glossary describes “environmental justice” as:
The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, culture, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies to ensure that each person enjoys (1) the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards; and (2) equal access to any federal agency action on environmental justice issues in order to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, work, and recreate.
The document seeks to present a blueprint for the Democrat Party’s official climate-change policy, distinguishing it somewhat from the Green New Deal (GND) championed by professed socialists such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
The new plan is very similar to the Green New Deal, although it often takes a slower approach to the same goals. For example, while the GND calls for net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2030, Democrats plan moves the date back 20 years to 2050.
Like the GND, however, the new document advocates vast federal regulations on everything from infrastructure to building codes.
The Democrat program would also mandate that no automobile emit greenhouse gases from 2035 on, with a mandate on heavy trucks following in 2040. Democrats claim this would save 60,000 lives and $8 trillion due to health and climate benefits. “Democrats know the climate crisis is the essential crisis of our time, threatening public health, jobs and the economy, national security and values,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference.
The previous Democrat agenda included several radical calls for climate action, though these were sidelined amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd riots.
The new document mentions Floyd by name on its first page:
As some states began to slowly reopen at the end of May, the nation erupted in protest in response to yet another police killing of a defenseless African-American man, George Floyd. Throughout it all, President Trump failed to lead the country in a unified and compassionate response.
It goes on to discuss the intersection of race and climate, speaking on many occasions about “environmental justice communities,” defined as a community “with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and Indigenous communities, that experiences or is at risk of experiencing higher or more adverse human health or environmental effects.”
While many aspects of this agenda would be unlikely to become reality so long as Republicans control the Senate, they could very well become law should Democrats win the Senate and White House in November.
Republicans pushed back at the document for its similarities to the Green New Deal, arguing it would destroy the U.S. economy and usher in an unparalleled amount of government control over Americans’ lives.
Furthermore, GOP lawmakers took issue with Democrats for the release of a partisan report that excluded input from them. “If I had known then what I know now, why did we go through this whole waste of money by putting a committee together, wasting money on staff, and do a dog and pony show with hearings?” Representative Garrett Graves (R-La.) told the Washington Examiner. “You don’t need us to do this. You certainly didn’t need to spend taxpayer funds to do it.”
The blueprint was opposed by conservative groups such as the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The organization’s director, Myron Ebell, called it a “ridiculously wasteful plan.”