House Democrats announce climate plan to rival Green New Deal with 2050 goal

House Democrats announce climate plan to rival Green New Deal with 2050 goal
© Greg Nash

House Democrats announced plans Tuesday to craft a new climate proposal to rival the Green New Deal by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“All of this demands leadership at the federal level,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Key negotiator says deal close on surprise medical bills legislation House Democrat presses Google executives for answers on handling of health data MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at a press conference. “This is an ambitious goal, I don’t want to suggest that it isn’t, and there are a lot of different ways of dealing with it.”

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Democrats say they will develop a plan by the end of the year to reach that goal and will hold a number of hearings and meetings with business leaders and environmentalists.

The competing plan highlights the rift with the party’s more progressive wing, which has rallied around the Green New Deal and its goal of a carbon-free economy by 2030.

Pallone and other Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee said their plan would be more concrete than the Green New Deal.

“We can do any kind of whimsical thing but we have to do this in a way that includes conversations with stakeholders, their buy-in and their involvement in a consensus bill,” said Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDemocrats unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 House committee advances sweeping legislation to battle 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule MORE (D-N.Y.), who helped the committee settle on the 2050 timeline and will lead many of the hearings that will inform an eventual bill.

The lawmakers characterized 2050 as a point of no return, after which the country will be unable to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Progressives contend the country needs to reduce emissions by 2030 in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Ocasio-Cortez: 'Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway' House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the Green New Deal, has criticized plans from other Democrats that did not strive to meet the earlier timeline.

“Personally, I think we need to have more aggressive timelines than that to be honest,” she told The Hill in April of presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s climate plan, which strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“I think that the science and the IPCC [report] shows exactly what we need, and our legislation needs to be in line with that,” she added, referring to the climate assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Pallone acknowledged the challenge of getting the party’s more progressive wing on board but said getting the majority of Democrats on board would be key.

“We want a united front. I think it’s fair for me to say right now that does not exist,” he told reporters.

Energy and Commerce members were tight-lipped about what might be included in the proposal, saying it will be crafted through months of conversations.

Tonko said Democrats need to craft a ready-to-go bill, should a Democrat defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE next year, and stressed the importance of going through a process to develop legislation.

“The importance here of that is to make certain that all concerns are taken to mind and heart and that we come up with the best consensus,” he said. “Without that you don’t have the support to get it through the House, perhaps, and certainly not through the Senate.”

Some environmental groups were critical of the announcement.

“Pallone and Democratic leaders are right that this is a crisis. But by setting a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 here in the United States, they’re not acting like it,” the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate group and one of the backers of the Green New Deal, said in a statement. “To set a low goal that is misaligned with what science demands out of the gate is irresponsible, and bargaining against our future.”

Updated at 4:45 p.m.