Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Green New Deal has created much buzz, but is light on details, and doesn't specifically mention rural America

Like President Trump's proposed budget, the Green New Deal is unlikely to pass in Congress but it reveals the priorities of its supporters. The non-binding resolution, sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., calls for broad reforms intended to address climate change and societal inequality but doesn't provide much specific policy, Jan Pytalski reports for the nonprofit news outlet 100 Days in Appalachia.

So how would the Green New Deal affect rural America? Republican lawmakers have tried to position it as an anti-rural bill, saying that its focus on lowering greenhouse gas emissions means it's anti-animal agriculture (since livestock emissions and waste are a potent source of methane).

Whitney Kimball Coe, director of the Center for Rural Strategies, told 100 Days that "rural does not appear to be mentioned at all" in the GND, and wants rural communities to have a crucial role in crafting policies that would affect them. She noted that many rural communities are already pursuing renewable energy and conservation initiatives, and cautions federal lawmakers not to "disregard the work that has already been done at the local level by putting a federal plan on top of it."

Pytalski writes, "Here in Appalachia, economic identity is based around extractive economies, putting these concerns right in the crosshairs of the Green New Deal. But the vague promises of the GND proposal and lack of direct involvement with the rural communities presents a problem to many rural organizers." Erin Bridges, fundraiser for the Sunrise Movement, a think tank that helped craft the GND, told Pytalski that a more detailed plan to come will have "a special eye for communities that have historically relied on fossil fuels, because we know we need to ensure economic security and healthy communities for those who have been on the frontlines of extraction for so long."

The nation's largest labor group disapproves of the GND because of that transition, which would mean thousands of Americans losing jobs in the extraction industries, Jack Crowe reports for National Review. The AFL-CIO sent out a letter Friday criticizing the proposal's lack of concrete policy: "We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered."

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