In the News
By Joshua Emerson Smith
Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, released Wednesday what he’s calling a “climate playbook” — a list of more than 50 pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats as well as Republicans since 2017.
The congressman said revisiting bipartisan ideas to rein in climate change is a better use of time than focusing on the Green New Deal, a wide-ranging resolution aimed at wiping out greenhouse emissions by 2030 and creating new jobs.
“The Green New Deal was aspirational and general,” Peters said. “That was its strength, but its weakness was that it was undefined, so our political opponents were defining it.
“This (climate playbook) is something that people who don’t want to sign on to all the language in that resolution can use to say, ‘This is what I mean by climate action,’” he added.
Peters said lawmakers shouldn’t have to start from scratch to take action on global warming.
“I think this is a really constructive way to harness energy and see if we can’t make real change,” he said, adding, “I’m very skeptical of congressional utopian plans. They never happen.”
Peters has made his case on the website medium.com/@Rep.ScottPeters, where he provides links to dozens of pieces of legislation.
The proposals include everything from putting a price on carbon emissions to requiring that new car fleets include zero-emission vehicles.
In recent months, Peters has taken heat from local environmental groups for not supporting the Green New Deal, and his playbook didn’t seem to immediately win back support from those activists.
“This is not the response we wanted from Congressman Peters,” said Masada Disenhouse, co-founder of SanDiego350. “What we’re looking for is a bold comprehensive vision that addresses climate change at the scale of the crisis, and this is not that.
“If he’s expecting change to come from the places where it hasn’t even worked in the past, I think it’s unrealistic,” she added.
SanDiego350 and the Sunrise Movement have also criticized local Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, holding a sit-in at her office in San Diego last month to demand support for the resolution. Rep. Mike Levin and Juan Vargas, both representing parts of the San Diego region, have backed the idea publicly.
The Green New Deal has also proved divisive for other Democrats, with some vowing support and others distancing themselves from the proposal, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
Republicans, led by President Trump, have seized on that tension, labeling the proposal as a “socialist” ban on cows, cars and planes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. R-Ky., put the resolution up for a vote last month, but all 43 Democrats voted present in protest.
At the same time, climate groups across the country have held up the resolution as a major test for lawmakers wishing to brandish progressive credentials. It was spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The Green New Deal could end up being a key issue for the Democratic Party going into the 2020 presidential election, with many of the candidates having already voiced support for the idea.
However, hammering out the details could prove complicated, including whether to embrace nuclear power and how to address union workers in the fossil fuel industry.