McConnell Blasts Dems’ Demand That Latest Stimulus Package Include Green Provisions

Graphic: Mother Jones

The Senate was unable to agree on a bipartisan stimulus bill yesterday — negotiations apparently stalled because, among other things, the Democrats demanded that bailouts for airlines be conditioned on their lowering their emissions and that tax credits for wind and solar projects be extended.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell angrily complained that the “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses until they get to dust off the Green New Deal,” arguing that these “green” provisions have “have nothing to do with the coronavirus outbreak.”

Why This Matters:  After delaying immediate economic relief and adjourning the Senate over the weekend ten days ago, now Senator McConnell seems in a rush to give billions to corporations while leaving workers and the environment out of the deal.  But these green provisions the Dems are demanding will boost the economy and are only a downpayment on what is needed going forward.  A bold $2 trillion “Green Stimulus” proposal emerged on Medium with detailed proposals across eight pillars: housing and civic infrastructure; labor and manufacturing; energy workers and infrastructure; agriculture and rural communities; green infrastructure and public lands; regulations, innovation, and public investment; transportation; and foreign policy.

Democrats’ Demands

Democrats and environmental NGOs argue that these provisions are not unrelated to the virus.  If the stimulus can help the oil and gas industry by funding the President’s decision to buy oil to completely fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and help the airlines park their jet fuel offshore, then they should be able to help renewable energy industries, which will also suffer due to the economic slowdown.  And the logic is that if there is going to be a stimulus, it should incentivize investments in renewable energy, which employs far more people than fossil fuel companies and has the capacity to employ even more.  Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in an interview with The Washington Post, “[w]e have two curves we need to quickly bend downward,” Birol said. “One is the coronavirus infections, and the second is global emissions — neither of them will be easy.”

Green Stimulus

The authors of the detailed Green Stimulus proposal maintain that this is the time to do “all the preparatory work now to make green projects ‘shovel ready.’”  They hope to stimulate a virtual public comment period using “online channels, including public debate and consultation,” to “ensure that physical projects can commence as soon as it is feasible to restart major in-person work across the economy.”  The authors argue that their proposal would create “millions of family-sustaining green jobs, lifts standards of living, accelerates a just transition off fossil fuels, ensures a controlling stake for the public in all private sector bailout plans, and helps make our society and economy stronger and more resilient in the face of pandemic, recession, and climate emergency in the years ahead.”

To Go Deeper:  Read the Green Stimulus proposal in full by clicking here.

What You Can Do: Sign on to support the Green Stimulus proposal by clicking here.

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