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Markey, AOC

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) are working on Green New Deal legislation that could be made public as early as next week. (Photos: U.S. Congress)

With Ocasio-Cortez/Markey Bill Reportedly on Horizon, Expert Says Green New Deal Must Include 'Fossil Fuel Phaseout'

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), another vocal backer of the broad proposal, suggests it has enough support to pass the U.S. House

Jessica Corbett

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) are working on Green New Deal legislation that the pair may unveil as soon as next week, Axios reported late Wednesday.

Those plans were confirmed by a spokeswoman for Markey as well as Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led advocacy group that has led powerful protests across the country—including at the D.C. office of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.)—in favor of the proposal, which would combine bold climate action with green jobs and other measures aimed at creating a more just economy.

"Now is this country's chance to break free of climate half-measures and adopt policies that will actually save lives."
—Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA

The text of the bill, however, has not been finalized, according to Axios—meaning it is still unclear how closely it will align with the draft legislative document promoted by Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement. That proposal called for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy within the next decade, a federal jobs guarantee program, universal healthcare, and a House Select Committee to hammer out the details.

While welcoming the news, Greenpeace USA climate director Janet Redman said in a statement that any Green New Deal bill must include a "fossil fuel phaseout" for it to be taken seriously.

The idea behind their proposal, she said, "is inspiring, bold, and transformative—but it won't get us to a future in which the most vulnerable are protected and global temperatures stop rising if it doesn't include a hard stop on fossil fuel expansion."

"We have to continue radical encouragement of climate leaders in Congress to get us where we actually need to be if we're serious about staving off the worst impacts of the climate crisis," Redman emphasized. "Now is this country's chance to break free of climate half-measures and adopt policies that will actually save lives."

While some Democrats who have announced their 2020 presidential candidacies—such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)—have said they support a Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement has vowed to maintain pressure on members of Congress to ensure the plan put forward lives up to the bold proposal they've been fighting for and doesn't become a watered down bill that merely borrows the increasingly popular buzzword.

"The biggest win is it's on the radar... Presidential candidates are going to be asked if it is on their agenda. That is good."
—Greg Carlock, Data for Progress

"The biggest win is it's on the radar," Greg Carlock, one of the directors of the think tank Data for Progress, which has put out its own proposal for a Green New Deal, told the Washington Post on Thursday.

"The next win is we have a committee on which we can discuss it," Carlock added, referring to the U.S. House Committee on the Climate Crisis, which some progressives have criticized as Pelosi's "weak" replacement for the version envisioned in Ocasio-Cortez's draft.

However, as Carlock noted, it still provides an opportunity to push the idea forward. "We now have a space we didn't have three months ago. It is on the agenda," he said. "Presidential candidates are going to be asked if it is on their agenda. That is good."

Although the details of Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's plan aren't yet public, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—another vocal supporter of the Green New Deal backed by climate campaigners—told MPR News this week that the broad proposal has enough support to pass the Democratically-controlled U.S. House.

"I'm one who is urging my colleagues to really take this opportunity to not just issue resolutions and talking points, but for us to actually put a real bill on the table and to allow us to have a real conversation on this issue," Omar said. Opposition to the proposal, she added, often comes from Republicans and those worried about changes in their daily lives.

"We will hear from folks who say, 'I can't drive my big truck,' or, you know, 'My family has been in this line of work for many generations,'" she said. "And for us it's about making sure that we're having a conversation with them about what it means to sustain a future for their children and their grandchildren."

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