Maine 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joined a group of incoming House Democrats, along with environmental activists and current members, outside the U.S. Capitol Friday morning to push for transformational action on climate change, something she says the Trump administration and a GOP-backed House have resisted.
"This could be the number one problem in America,” Pingree says. “It could be the worst legacy of damage from the Trump administration and, as we know, time is running out."
A recent report from a top United Nations climate panel says that the world has 12 years to avert a climate catastrophe.
This week Pingree and 15 other House Democrats announced support for a Green New Deal. It's an ambitious plan to eliminate greenhouse gases and move to 100 percent renewable energy,while providing jobs for the unemployed.
Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley is a Democrat from Massachusetts who says the push for a Green New Deal is about more than natural resources and jobs.
"It's about our most precious commodity: people, families, children,” Pressley says. “It's about ensuring that our coastal communities have the resources and tools to develop a sustainable infrastructure that will counteract rising sea levels, beat back untenable, natural disasters, and mitigate the effects of extreme temperature."
Pressley says Massachusetts has created more than 100,000 green jobs, welcomed more than 700 green companies and produced more than $11 billion in economic activity, but she says there is much more work to be done in Massachusetts and around the country.
Among other things, the Democratic coalition is supporting a resolution, backed by New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to create a new select committee on climate change.
"This is about the fact that if we continue to allow power to concentrate with corporations, to dictate the quality of our air...and tell us that we can keep burning fossil fuels, to dupe us, people will die and people are dying," she said, referencing the death of her own grandfather and hundreds of others in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria last year. "So we are here to set the crooked path straight."
Support for a select committee has some Democratic support, including from top leaders, but others believe existing committees can manage the issue.
Democrats now hold a majority in the House, but they still don't control the Senate, which means prospects for a Green New Deal are dim until at least the next election two years from now.
Updated 4:28 p.m. Friday Nov. 30, 2018