As Nation Reels from Disasters, 300+ Groups Endorse Sweeping Climate Bill
"Disaster after climate-induced disaster is proving that we can't fail to address our rampant burning of fossil fuels—too much is at stake."
In the wake of massive storms that scientists agree were made much worse by global warming, more than 300 national, state, and local groups have endorsed the OFF Act, proposed legislation that's been called "the strongest climate bill ever."
"The OFF Act will stop fossil fuel projects, create tens of thousands of new jobs while transforming our energy economy, begin to address environmental injustices, and put us on the path towards the national mobilization necessary to address the climate crisis."
—OFF Act support letterThe Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, or OFF Act, was introduced this month by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who said the proposal "paves the way for the United States to replace fossil fuels with 100 percent clean energy generation and use by 2035."
The coalition backing the legislation—which includes Food & Water Watch, Progressive Democrats of America, National Nurses United, Our Revolution, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, and hundreds of others—sent a joint letter to lawmakers explaining why the bill is more necessary than ever.
"We are in a climate emergency. The threat of climate chaos from global warming is real, and the evidence continues to mount," the groups stated. "The OFF Act will stop fossil fuel projects, create tens of thousands of new jobs while transforming our energy economy, begin to address environmental injustices, and put us on the path towards the national mobilization necessary to address the climate crisis."
Donna Smith, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, said the number of organizations coming together is reflective of the concerns shared by millions of Americans. "From small communities and large urban areas," Smith said, "Americans understand that in order to address the climate emergency with an appropriate level of urgency, we must take effective, rapid action to get off fossil fuels."
Echoing calls for climate action from a variety of public figures in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Mary Gutierrez of Earth Ethics, said: "Communities all over Florida are reeling from historic flooding, damaged homes and neighborhoods because of the impacts of monster storm Irma. It is imperative we act now to address the impacts of climate change."
Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, also referenced the recent natural disasters, saying: "The tragedies of latest super storms Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, intensified by climate change, which brought not only deaths and pain, but long term health risks, are just the latest signal of the need for urgent action now."
"We need bold and transformative policy solutions to make the changes necessary to our energy system that will set us on the path to a solution to climate disruption and support the building of a sustainable economy," Ross added.
As Common Dreams reported after the OFF Act was introduced earlier this month, the bill calls for (pdf) a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects; ends fossil fuel subsidies and directs those funds instead to the clean energy transition; funds weatherization for low-income communities; extends tax credits for wind and solar; bans crude oil and LNG exports; and supports workers impacted by the transition to cleaner energy.
The bill's co-sponsors include Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin (Md.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Nanette Barragán (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), and Keith Ellison (Minn.).
"Ultimately, moving off fossil fuels quickly and justly, while also ensuring economic prosperity for our country, can and must be achieved," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter wrote in an op-ed published by The Hill on Thursday. "Disaster after climate-induced disaster is proving that we can't fail to address our rampant burning of fossil fuels—too much is at stake."
"As the historical worst offender in climate-damaging emissions, the United States must lead the way, with or (obviously) without [President Donald] Trump's involvement," Hauter added. "The OFF Act is the vehicle by which we can and must embark on a clean energy revolution, now."