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Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal

Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far New Consensus co-founder discusses proposal for Biden to use Fed to sidestep Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday unveiled legislation that would be the first step toward implementing the Green New Deal.

The draft bill is designed to address what the lawmakers describe as the third pillar of the Green New Deal — ensuring no community gets left behind.

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Dubbed the Climate Equity Act, the legislation lays out steps for Congress and the White House to “guarantee that the policies comprising a future Green New Deal protect the health and economic wellbeing of all Americans for generations to come.”

“Climate change is an existential threat — it’s critical we act now to achieve a cleaner, safer, and healthier future. But it is not enough to simply cut emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels. We must ensure that communities already contending with unsafe drinking water, toxic air, and lack of economic opportunity are not left behind,” Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a statement.

The Green New Deal, championed by Ocasio-Cortez, would push for a massive shift in the economy away from fossil fuels and toward more environmentally friendly sources of energy, something she said will spur economic development along the way.

The legislation introduced Monday would require the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to evaluate how new environmental bills would impact low-income communities. Projects pushed by the executive branch would face a similar review under the measure.

The legislation could help make Harris more competitive in a 2020 Democratic field full of candidates eagerly sharing their plans for tackling climate change.

Harris has yet to release a sweeping proposal of her own, and other candidates have put forth plans that target what's known as environmental justice, which focuses on how environmental issues affect poor communities and communities of color.

Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee (D) rolled out such a plan Monday, and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE (D-N.J.) previously unveiled his own environmental justice proposal.

The draft bill from Harris and Ocasio-Cortez would create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability to help represent the views of "frontline communities."

The office would be tasked with measuring the cost and impact of policy decisions on affected communities.

“The Climate Equity Act ensures that as we go forward to solve our climate crisis, we are focusing on communities most impacted by the crisis and the transition to renewable energy,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.

Updated at 3:42 p.m.