As the Green New Deal pioneered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to gain momentum, the plan to wean the U.S. off of fossil fuels has now found support in more than 300 local and state government officials who called for the initiative in an open letter on Friday.
The letter from environmental nonprofit Elected Officials to Protect America and signed by 311 officials from 40 states pointed to extreme weather phenomena exacerbated by climate change that are already affecting communities across the nation and costing billions to manage in their aftermath—dire issues that are only going to worsen as our planet continues to warm.
“Our nation’s mightiest cities have been flooded by unprecedented superstorms including Sandy, Katrina, Harvey, and Maria. Scientists warn that the impacts will continue to worsen, the federal government’s National Climate Assessment predicts economic losses will exceed the GDP of many states, and our military is responding to climate change as a key threat to national security,” the letter read.
“Fossil fuel production and burning, the primary driver of climate change, causes serious local impacts and harm to public health from air pollution, water contamination, leaks, explosions and other dangers. Like climate change, the impacts from oil, gas, and coal disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and exacerbate social inequalities.”
The objectives of the Green New Deal include shifting wholly to renewable energy sources and overhauling infrastructure for sustainability with a focus on just transition for workers in fossil fuel-dependent industries and economic justice. Citing the findings outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in October, the letter stated the pressing need for environmental reform in the next decade before we reach total climate catastrophe.
As the Huffington Post noted, the hundreds of signatories include L.W. Allstadt, a trustee of Cooperstown, New York and former executive vice president at Mobil Oil, who said in a statement that climate change’s existence “and its potential disastrous impacts have been known for decades.”
Those who signed the letter join a growing chorus of government officials calling for a Green New Deal. The push for a shift away from fossil fuels flies directly in opposition to the position of President Donald Trump, who is a staunch supporter of the coal industry and who has stated that he would like to pull the U.S. from the historic Paris Agreement. But a newly-elected Congress is poised to disrupt the fossil fuel status quo with more than three dozen current or incoming House Democrats backing a Green New Deal.
“President Trump may not believe it, but the scientific consensus is in: climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s going to be disastrous for our communities unless we take action immediately,” Representative-elect Mike Levin, a supporter of the Green New Deal, said in a statement earlier this month.
The initiative has also found support from Senator Cory Booker, who tweeted Friday: “We must take bold action on climate change and create a green economy that benefits all Americans.”