Climate activists call on congresswoman to back Green New Deal
Around two dozen climate-change activists gathered outside the Thousand Oaks office of U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley Aug. 8 to ask for her endorsement of the Green New Deal, an ambitious—and controversial—legislative plan to address the crisis of a warming planet as well as societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice.
They were back Aug. 15 and again on Aug. 22. Thus far, they’ve been unable to secure her support.
House Resolution 109, sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), is billed as an economic stimulus plan focused on climate change and economic inequality.
Dubbed the Green New Deal, it’s a nod to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the far-reaching government action in 1933 that brought about the Social Security Administration and a host of other programs and reforms in response to the Great Depression.
A version of Ocasio-Cortez’s bill, Senate Resolution 59, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) failed to advance.
Those rallying outside Brownley’s 223 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. office have three specific demands of the fourth-term congresswoman, event organizer RL Miller of Oak Park said.
“No. 1, we want her to sign on to the AOC resolution; No. 2, we want her to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge and No. 3, we want her to hold a town hall on climate change,” said Miller, a self-proclaimed climate “hawk” who chairs the California Democratic Environmental Caucus.
Members of the community have signed petitions asking for Brownley to co-sponsor HR 109 and they’ve met with the Democrat individually and in groups, but to no avail, Miller said.
Brownley represents much of Ventura County in the House of Representatives, including the cities of Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura.
Though she supports many pieces of the deal, Brownley is hesitant to sign it at this point while she’s exploring all options as a member of the newly formed U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, she told the Acorn.
The committee’s function is to “investigate, study, make findings and develop recommendations on policies, strategies and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations,” according to the resolution that created it.
The House authorized the committee in January with the expectation that it will publish a set of public recommendations by March 31, 2020.
“We are working really hard and have had lots of hearings and will continue to have lots of hearings, and our charge by the speaker is to make a recommendation for bold climate control,” Brownley said in an interview. “I just feel like moving forward . . . it’s better for me to not marry myself to a particular solution.”
That explanation doesn’t hold water with Miller and her colleagues from 350 Conejo/San Fernando Valley, a group pushing to see a near-immediate end to the use of fossil fuels.
“The Green New Deal resolution is not a bill, so we fully expect it will be supplanted,” Miller said. Miller said. “She can commit to upholding the principles. It’s her responsibility (as a member of the committee) to write a bill that would be different and we expect it to be different.”
Though Brownley is hesitant to sign the deal—which opponents say would be devastating to the U.S. economy and labor market—she said it doesn’t mean she feels a lack of urgency toward finding solutions.
“I firmly, firmly believe we must act and we must act now,” Brownley said. “If we can’t get healthcare right, we can fix it . . . but with the climate, if we don’t act now, we’ll never be able to repair it.”
The second demand of the protesters is that Brownley agrees to accept no more than $200 from PACs, lobbyists or executives of fossil-fuel companies. The one-sentence pledge is an initiative of Miller’s Climate Hawks Vote organization, a political action committee that supports candidates who support immediate action to curb climate change. This marks the first time Brownley’s been approached to sign on.
“In all fairness, I haven’t asked Julia to sign it yet, but I know she doesn’t take much money from . . . those trying to drown our democracy in a dark tidal wave of oily money,” Miller said.
Asked if they would support a primary challenger should Brownley not meet their demands, Miller said no.
“Under no circumstance should this activity be interpreted as a desire to primary Julia . . . or vote for anybody other than Julia,” she said. “We like Julia; we just want her to be more vocal and recognize Ventura County is ground zero for climate change.”