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The Green New Deal for Public Housing focuses on fixing the current public housing that is spread across cities, rural areas, and tribal lands. That requires everything from updating wiring and appliances to plugging ventilation leaks, to installing renewable energy on-site. All that would improve efficiency and help cut down on building carbon pollution, addressing the central tenet of the Green New Deal to get the U.S. zero carbon-free energy by 2030.
The Politics of the Plan: The Housing Act would flesh out the Green New Deal resolution introduced earlier this year by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Vox noted that by “starting with housing, the legislators appear to be trying to make inroads with a broad political base and avoid some of the more contentious aspects of the Green New Deal, like the transition away from fossil fuels. That issue in particular has divided labor unions because it would lead to the end of mining and drilling jobs.”
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez stated that “We need electrical workers. We need construction workers. And it doesn’t have to just be fossil fuel pipelines that create these kinds of jobs. … We can create millions of jobs in this country by actually rising to the challenge of addressing what this crisis is going to represent.”
Ensuring worker buy-in to this new plan will be key to its success.
Energy Efficiency:Estimates show that over one-third of energy in American residential and commercial buildings is wasted, therefore a mass effort to improve energy efficiency in public housing would not only help lower emissions but save costs for low-income residents. Low-income Americans pay twice as much of their income for energy costs as the median income households–meaning that for many, adequate heating and cooling is out of reach with the current state of public housing and poses a serious risk to human health.
Why This Matters:Housing along with climate change are two issues important for Democratic voters and while this plan stands little chance of becoming law in this administration, it could lay a blueprint for future administrations. Tying climate change to housing and social justice is a novel political play but an important one–not only does public housing currently trap families in poverty but it also can be a detriment to tenant health. Greening all buildings is key to decarbonizing our economy, helping Americans escape poverty while we’re at it seems like an idea worth exploring.
Environmental Justice legislation is getting lots of attention this year as numerous bills are pending in Congress on a topic that, until now, barely received attention. Yesterday, Senator Cory Booker and Representative Deb Haaland rolled out a bill that would put $100 billion dollars toward eliminating pollution that has disproportionately harmed communities of color.
Why This Matters:Lisa Friedman of The New York Times wrote last month that by putting Senator Harris on the ticket with him, Vice President Biden signaled that environmental justice will be high on their agenda.
Congratulations to Senator Ed Markey — a very early #FriendofthePlanet — for his incredible come-from-behind victory over Congressman Joe Kennedy in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. Senator Markey has long been someone I (Monica) admired — ever since his days as the leader of the nuclear freeze movement back in the 80s. He has been […]
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