Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year

Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year
© Greg Nash

MCCONNELL TEES UP GREEN NEW DEAL VOTE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.) is setting up a fight over the Green New Deal later this month. 

McConnell, wrapping up the Senate's work for the week, scheduled a procedural vote on the progressive resolution for after the chamber returns from a one-week recess. 

Senators are leaving Thursday and will return to Washington on March 25. The Senate will vote on whether or not to take up the Green New Deal resolution after they wrap up consideration of a circuit court nominee. 


McConnell initially said he would force a vote on the Green New Deal before the August recess, before saying it would come up before the Senate left town for two weeks in April. 

GOP senators said earlier this week that they expected it to get a vote during the last week in March.

The Green New Deal will need 60 votes to get over the procedural hurdle, something it stands little chance of doing in a GOP-controlled Senate where most Democrats are expected to vote present and Republicans won't support it.

More here on McConnell's plans.


Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow me on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

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There's more Green New Deal news...


NEW CLIMATE TASK FORCE PUSHES GREEN NEW DEAL ALTERNATIVE: Members of a new House task force on climate change are aiming to offer what they call realistic climate change initiatives--a goal they say runs counter to the solely "aspirational" Green New Deal.

"The Green New Deal is aspirational, what we plan to do is offer tangible, achievable things not just a resolution," Rep. Elaina Luria (D-Va.), a leader the New Democrat Coalition's climate change task force, told reporters Thursday.

"The entire plan of the task force is to find ways to attack this incrementally," she said of fighting global temperature rise.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, the four leaders of the 17-member task force said their goal was to brainstorm and introduce market-driven climate initiatives that carry political weight. Those ideas might include bills to institute a Cap and Trade system or other methods of driving renewable energy usage.

The group unabashedly knocked the controversial progressive-backed Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezObama: You lose people with 'snappy' slogans like 'defund the police' The left's turn against freedom: Curb speech, ban books, make an 'enemies list' Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE (D-Ny.) as "loud."

"The energy industry is replete with bad unintended consequences of well-intentioned regulation. The aspirations of the Green New Deal are great. The amount of attention it's brought to this issue are fantastic. But doing energy and environmental policy right really requires you get the expertise of the folks who have been down in the trenches," said Rep. Sean CastenSean CastenChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch The Hill's Campaign Report: Buzz builds around Warren for VP Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-Ill.), a freshman lawmaker who ran primarily on a climate change platform.

"The Green New Deal is a political document. If we don't pass it tomorrow it won't make a lick of difference."

Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, (Va.), Susan WildSusan WildDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief Democratic Rep. Susan Wild wins reelection in Pennsylvania Congress must act to end US military aid to the Philippines MORE (Pa.), Casten and Luria all said they would not vote for the Green New Deal resolution if it were to come for a vote.

"I think we have to be grateful for it, even if we can't sign on to it," said Beyer.

Luria said that unlike the "big and bold" initiatives of the Green New Deal, which in part aims to create jobs through transitioning the U.S. energy grid to 100 percent renewable energy, the task force would be more measured.

"The move is going to be gradual. We're not going to do 100 percent over ten years," she said.


Read more here.


HOUSE GOP LAWMAKER SAYS GREEN NEW DEAL AKIN TO 'GENOCIDE': House Republican leaders Thursday called on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Houston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic relief MORE (D-Calif.) to hold a hearing on the Green New Deal, with one GOP lawmaker saying the plan to fight climate change was "tantamount to genocide."

Speaking at a press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon MORE (R-Calif) urged Pelosi to hold formal hearings over the nonbinding resolution introduced in February by progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), warning that it aims to "control too much of nearly every aspect of our lives."

"This is the start of a conversation I believe is long overdue," said McCarthy. "We know so far that what the Green New Deal proposes would control nearly every element of our lives, from our travel to homeownership to what agriculture we could even grow. And that's just the start."

The group of 11 Republican lawmakers are sending a letter to Pelosi on Thursday. At the press conference, they warned of the consequential effects of the climate plan, which aims to create jobs through transitioning the U.S. electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy.

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopRepublicans in campaign mode for top spots on House environmental committees Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Utah), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said adopting the plan would be akin to "genocide."


"For many people who live in the West, but also in urban and rural areas, the ideas behind the Green New Deal are tantamount to genocide," Bishop said.

"That may be an overstatement, but not by a whole lot. The genesis of this concept is really coming from easterners who live in an urban setting and have no view of what it's like in the rest of America. When you judge distance not in miles but in subway stops, you realize there is something that needs to be discussed with this particular process," he said with a nod to Ocasio-Cortez.

"I wonder how many pinocchios Rep. Bishop will get for that misleading and offensive statement about genocide," Corbin Trent, communications director for Ocasio-Cortez, said in response to The Hill.

Speaking in her weekly address Thursday, Pelosi waved off the republican lawmaker's calls for committee hearings.

"I'm not standing by any characterization that the Republicans have of anything. Unfamiliar as they may be with sending items to committee -- because that's not what they ever did," she said.

Read more here.



COCA-COLA REVEALS IT PRODUCES 3.3M TONS OF PLASTIC ANNUALLY: Coca-Cola Co. produced more than 3 million tons of plastic packaging in 2017, according to a newly published report, the first time the soft drink giant has revealed its plastic output.

Coca-Cola provided the information to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is pushing for pro-environmental measures through its "New Plastics Economy initiative."

The Guardian reported Thursday that Coca-Cola did not specify the scale of its bottle production, but that the 3.3 million tons of plastic packaging translates to roughly 108 billion bottles per year.

Other companies that disclosed their plastic packaging output to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation include Mars, Nestle and Danone, which together produced roughly 8 million tons of plastic packaging per year, The Guardian reported.

The report coincided with the Coca-Cola Foundation announcing $5.4 million in grants to be contributed to environmental organizations, according to CNN. About $4.15 million will go toward the Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit that seeks to boost recycling infrastructure.

A number of municipalities and businesses have sought to move away from the use of plastic straws in recent years amid concerns about the material's negative effects on the environment.

Read more here.



The #TrashChallenge is no match for plastic production, Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's oceans program, argues.

To tackle fossil fuels we have to address freight, plastics and chemicals, Mike Carr, executive director of New Energy America, says.



U.S. moves to lift remaining gray wolf protections, the Associated Press reports.

OPEC slows pace of production cuts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

World Bank, AfDB commit $47 billion to African climate finance, Reuters reports

Toyota investing $750M at 5 U.S. plants, creating 600 jobs, the Associated Press reports



Check out Thursday's stories...

-De Blasio proposes adding to Manhattan coastline to protect against effects of global warming

-New Democrats position themselves as realistic alternative to Green New Deal

-House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide

-Coca-Cola reveals that it produces 3.3M tons of plastic packaging annually

-Swedish teen who inspired global youth climate strike nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

-Senate GOP expected to force vote on Green New Deal in March

-Activists go on 'birth strike' over climate change