WASHINGTON – Ever since Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released the Green New Deal, there’s been a swirl of reporting about what’s actually in the legislation versus the radical plans laid out in a FAQ document circulated with the bill.
Ocasio-Cortez said to ignore the flubbed FAQ summary of the bill and focus on what the actual legislation says. So, is Green New Deal legislation really that different from the FAQ that Ocasio-Cortez’s staff eventually took offline?
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For example, much of the hubbub centered around the FAQ’s call for “economic security” for people “unwilling to work.” Green New Dealers have argued no such language appears in the resolution.
The resolution doesn’t use that specific phrase, but it does call for “guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”
Elsewhere, the Green New Deal bill calls for the government to “ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States” and also to provide “resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education” all people in the U.S.
Ocasio-Cortez’s flubbed FAQ also referred to getting rid of “farty cows” and airplanes. The phrase “farty cows” doesn’t appear in the resolution’s text, but emissions from ranching is mentioned.
“Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible,” reads the resolution.
Any attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would necessitate dealing with methane from cow flatulence and burps. That means finding a way to make cows emit less, or, alternatively, getting rid of cattle altogether.
The Green New Deal’s FAQ calls for building “out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary,” but the legislative text doesn’t use that language. Instead, the resolution calls for the government to overhaul “transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” including high-speed rail.
Ocasio-Cortez’s initial FAQ document included a call to phase out nuclear power, which is about 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation. The anti-nuclear language was taken off the FAQ posted to Ocasio-Cortez’s website.
It’s true that the Green New Deal’s legislative text calls doesn’t explicitly call for phasing out nuclear power, but the resolution does call for promoting renewables — i.e. solar and wind.
The resolution calls for “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” including “dramatically expanding and upgrading renewable power sources” and “deploying new capacity.”
Like in the FAQ, the resolution mentions “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States” and ensure jobs are “high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers” and “guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition” from fossil fuels.
The resolution also calls for “stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression” of so-called “frontline and vulnerable communities.” That’s the exact language used in the FAQ.
Those groups are defined in the bill as “indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.”