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Climate activists with the Sunrise Movement on Friday in the office of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). (Photo: Sunrise Movement)

Occupying Office of Another Key Democrat, Climate Activists Say "Best Chance at Survival" for Humanity Is Green New Deal

The Sunrise Movement urges Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) to back proposal from Ocasio-Cortez, refuse fossil fuel money

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Days after it targeted the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, the youth-led Sunrise Movement sustained its pressure on the party Friday morning as roughly three dozen climate activists with the group occupied the Washington, D.C. office of Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) to demand he back a "Green New Deal" as they called such a plan humanity's "best chance at survival."

"Our generation is done waiting," said one protester named Ben, a 21-year-old. "If not now, when?"

In addition to supporting Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed Select Committee for a Green New Deal—an idea backed by other newly-elected Democrats including Ilhan Omar but deemed "not necessary" by Pallone,  the group sporting t-shirts demanding their rights to "good jobs and a livable future" also urged the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to sign on to the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge." 

"Our generation needs proof that you will fight with us," added Ben.

Pallone listened to the activists, and said that while he "largely agrees with" the agenda of the Green New Deal, he disagreed with the legislative process of the select committee.

"You've been in office for 25 years, longer than I've been alive, and you have not supported a #GreenNewDeal which addressed the scope of the crisis," said another activist identified as Beverly. She told Pallone to back the proposed committee, and added, "it's our best chance at survival."

Friday's action—which drew support from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)—comes the same week dozens of Sunrise Movement activists staged a sit-in at Pelosi's Washington, D.C. office to demand that party leadership get behind the Green New Deal.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herself joined that protest and told the group, "I just want to let you all know how proud I am of each and every single one of you for putting yourselves and your bodies and everything on the line to make sure that we save our planet, our generation, and our future."

Her plan of action, however,  is getting push-back from establishment Democrats. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), for example, warned about going "too extreme," while Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) declared it "technologically impossible" that "in five years or 10 years we're not going to consume any more fossil fuels."

But 19-year-old Sunrise Movement activist Olivia stressed the urgency of climate action. She said before departing Pallone's office: "We do not have time for committees to talk and research. We have the solutions and we need a Green New Deal now. Frank Pallone needs to stand with us or step aside."

Praising the direct action and echoing the fact that there's no time to spare, Anna Galland, executive director of civic action at MoveOn.org, tweeted that the Sunrise activists are "beautifully modeling the ferocious urgency we need."


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