Head of miners union calls Green New Deal's main goal 'almost impossible'

The president of the United Mine Workers of America characterized the progressive Green New Deal's goal of transitioning to renewable energy over 10 years as "almost impossible."

The Green New Deal, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezStudents retreating from politics as campuses become progressive playgrounds Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Poll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMoulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Joseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Overnight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs MORE (D-Mass.) earlier this year, aims to cut greenhouse emissions in half by shifting to 100 percent renewable energy over the next decade. The proposal also calls for creating millions of “good, high-wage” jobs to achieve that goal.

“It’s almost impossible to transition in 10 years away from fossil fuels even if everybody was for it,” Cecil Roberts told Hill.TV on Monday. “It just can’t really be done but if you did do that, you’re going to have a massive, terrible economic problem on your hands.”

Roberts argued that over the past 10 to 15 years, the U.S. has been slowly transitioning from coal to natural gas, and that thousands of coal miners in Appalachia have been making the shift too.

"As coal miners have lost their jobs, thousands and thousands of other workers have been able to get employment in Appalachia doing the pipelines to these facilities and in some instances, drilling for natural gas and the new technology — the fracking and all that, that we have all kinds of debates about," he told Hill.TV.

“What we’re talking about with the Green New Deal is we’re going to eliminate that. So all of this new technology that’s been in place and all the work that’s been gathered because of that — we’re talking about eliminating that and starting down the road to completely renewables,” he added, while noting that climate change is a “worldwide threat.”

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (I-Vt.) among others, backed a resolution to declare a climate change an emergency. The resolution would not enact any initiatives to combat climate change or lower emissions.

“This is a political crisis of inaction," Ocasio-Cortez said. "It’s going to take political will, political courage in order for us to treat this issue with the urgency that the next generation needs."

The Trump administration has rolled back a number of Obama-era climate initiatives and repeatedly cast doubt over whether climate change is real.

In a recent speech touting his administration's environmental policies, Trump didn't mention climate change. 

—Tess Bonn