By Chris White
Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are teaming up on a proposal requiring lawmakers who introduce climate bills to consider the impact such legislation will have on black people and poor communities.
The two Democrats introduced the Climate Equity Act Thursday that would, if passed, require Congress to score future climate bills based on how much they may negatively impact poor and minority communities, The Washington Post reported. The two Democrats initially unveiled a draft of the bill in 2019, when Harris began her unsuccessful run for president, media reports show.
The equity score would be similar to the economic scores the Congressional Budget Office applies to other legislation, WaPo reported. The Climate Equity Act would also apply to regulations the Trump administration proposes in the future.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the realities of systemic racial, health, economic, and environmental injustices that persist in our country,” Harris said in a statement to the Post. “The environment we live in cannot be disentangled from the rest of our lives.”
The bill comes as reports indicate former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is considering Harris to be his running mate.
Biden pledged early during the presidential campaign to pick a female running mate.
The bill “is a really big deal,” Kerene Tayloe, director of federal legislative affairs at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, told the Post, referring to the scoring system.
“Nothing like that has ever existed,” Tayloe added. The New York-based environmental group helped Ocasio-Cortez and Harris craft the legislation.
Harris backed the Green New Deal in 2019, which sought to aggressively cut carbon emissions over the next decade. The resolution, crafted by Ocasio-Cortez, called for “10-year national mobilizations” toward addressing climate change.
A fact sheet published alongside the proposal said the plan would “mobilize every aspect of American society on a scale not seen since World War 2.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s GND would reportedly phase out fossil fuel usage within 12 years. Studies show the plan would come with a hefty price.
Americans could be forced to pay up to $93 trillion to implement the Green New Deal over a decade, the conservative-leaning American Action Forum (AAF) noted in a study in February 2019.
Republicans in the Senate torpedoed the legislation in March 2019, while Democratic lawmakers called the vote a dog-and-pony show. The GOP defeated the proposal 57-0, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the bill a socialistic ploy designed to kill the economy.
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