29 july 2019

Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Release Climate ‘Equity’ Plan

By Lisa Friedman, New York Times, July 29, 2019

WASHINGTON — Senator Kamala Harris of California and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Monday unveiled legislation aimed at ensuring that climate change plans benefit low-income communities. They described the measure as a key element of the Democrats’ Green New Deal.

The effort comes as Ms. Harris, who is running for president, and other Democratic candidates prepare for a set of debates in Detroit this week. Racial and economic disparities on issues ranging from housing to education are expected to take center stage.

Ms. Harris, who has yet to release a comprehensive climate change plan of her own, has focused much of her economic agenda on providing tax credits and other assistance to low- and middle-income Americans. This month, she and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill designed to help people with criminal records obtain housing.

The new proposal, titled the Climate Equity Act, provides a view of Ms. Harris’s environmental priorities. Under the plan, any environmental regulation or legislation would be rated based on its impact on low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by climate change because they are often in flood zones, near highways or power plants, or adjacent to polluted lands known as brownfields.

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The rating system would be modeled after the Congressional Budget Office score, which measures the costs of every major piece of legislation.

“We can’t do anything without a C.B.O. score, but we never actually consider if it’s disastrous to communities as long as it’s revenue-neutral,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview.

The bill would also establish an independent Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability to represent vulnerable communities, and create a position of senior adviser on climate justice at “all relevant agencies.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was the primary House sponsor of the Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution that set out a broad vision for significantly reducing planet-warming pollution by 2030 while also guaranteeing millions of new jobs. She said low-income workers were often ignored in the climate discussion.


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