Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Thursday introduced a bill that would require the government to make stronger consideration of racial and economic inequalities in its environmental policies.
The legislation, finalized after a draft was rolled out last year, is designed to address the third pillar of the Green New Deal — ensuring no community gets left behind.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the realities of systemic racial, health, economic, and environmental injustices that persist in our country,” Harris said in a release.
“The environment we live in cannot be disentangled from the rest of our lives, and it is more important than ever that we work toward a more just and equitable future.”
The Climate Equity Act requires legislation to be weighted with an “equity score” that would estimate the impact on so-called front-line communities, often communities of color and low-income communities that bear the brunt of environmental damage.
Actions from the White House and other executive branch agencies that affect those groups would also face an additional level of scrutiny.
The legislation was finalized after a year of speaking with various environmental justice groups and coalitions.
What first landed in the midst of Harris’s 2020 is now being rolled out as the California senator is being considered as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Biden has worked to enhance his climate bona fides, gradually building out a climate plan that has gained more acceptance with the left-leaning wing of the party.
Ocasio-Cortez stressed the Green New Deal roots of her latest legislation.
“The Democratic Party is now finally starting to embrace what many activists have long advocated: climate policy must be driven by and centered around frontline communities,” she said in a release. “Major environmental policies must be written by the black, brown, and low-income people who have been and will be disproportionately impacted by it, just like the Green New Deal envisioned.”