McConnell thinks Green New Deal vote will trap Dem 2020 candidates. He’s living in a coal mine…

  • Published on February 18th, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are hoping they can box in Democratic presidential candidates by forcing an early vote in the Senate on the Green New Deal resolution. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, and Kirsten Gillibrand—all of whom have declared their presidential candidacies—have pledged their support for the GND concept. McConnell clearly thinks a Republican attack will play well with the voters and make these candidates vulnerable to defeat in the election two years from now.

Tom Toles Mitch McConnell made of coal

By Meteor Blades

It would certainly play well with the 60 percent of Republicans in the Senate and House who are climate science deniers. McConnell, of course, is one of them: “For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” he has said. Actual meaning: “For every climate scientist who thinks it’s warming, I can find a pundit or blogger who thinks otherwise.”

What’s his energy plan? Killer coal. In this vein, he’s supported demolishing greenhouse gas emissions. And last week, he urged the federal Tennessee Valley Authority not to shut down one of its aged coal power plants—Paradise #3— because it has become uneconomic. TVA ignored him:

“Kentuckians strongly oppose moving away from coal,” McConnell said in a video address to the utility that rejected his pitch Thursday, saying it wasn’t economically feasible to keep operating the final burner at the Paradise plant in Muhlenberg County.

“Coal has helped fuel our country’s greatness and it needs to be part of our energy future,” McConnell said. […]

The loss of jobs, along with coal’s history in the state, leaves many lawmakers wary of what they see as overly aggressive efforts to combat climate change. They’re eager to shield the coal industry from further decline and to aid miners and their families.

Overly aggressive efforts? The Trump regime and its minions are doing everything they can think of to keep there from being any combat of the climate change they say they don’t believe in or at least don’t believe is caused by humans. Some of this grotesque myopia is being blocked by lawsuits, but the intent is clear. While a relative handful of congressional Republicans aren’t outright numbskulls about dealing with the climate crisis, the same cannot be said of the leadership. And even most Republicans who accept the scientific evidence on climate have repeatedly shown by their votes on various measures that they can talk the talk but avoid walking the walk.

Anybody who reads even 1 percent of the scientific climate studies being released practically every week knows how very serious our predicament is and how little time scientists believe we have left to deal with the climate crisis before it becomes overpowering and not amenable to any meaningful fix.

We are far past the time when overly aggressive combat of the climate crisis is even possible. Moving too fast, too precipitously is simply no longer an option if we are truly serious about the addressing that crisis. The question today is “Can we muster the political will to move fast enough?”

Obviously, deniers like McConnell don’t want to budge from their stubborn insistence on continuing to burn fossil fuels and pumping ever more CO2 into our already over-burdened atmosphere.

McConnell is right about one thing. The burdens—financial and otherwise—of decarbonization should not fall upon workers now dependent on the fossil fuel industries for their livelihood. Transition programs for these workers, like those proposed by Hillary Clinton and various climate hawks and owls, must be part of any good proposal to address the crisis. Guess what? The Green New Deal that McConnell and other critics sneer at has a major focus on the jobs the new energy economy will require. The GND also focuses on environmental justice for the poor and people of color who have borne the brunt of other environmental disasters.

Those jobs are already steadily accumulating as coal jobs plummet. In Kentucky, which not so long ago boasted tens of thousands of coal jobs, now has just 6,400, almost none of them unionized. Eastern Kentucky, the old heart of the state’s coal country, now has 20 of the nation’s 100 poorest counties. At the same time, renewables jobs are growing. Kentucky now has 1,293 solar jobs, according to the Solar Foundation’s 2018 jobs census. But while those clean energy jobs are growing, that growth must be greatly accelerated.

Senator Ed Markey, who with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, introduced the House resolution on the Green New Deal just over a week ago, responded to the majority leader’s gambit:

“Don’t let Mitch McConnell fool you: this is nothing but an attempt to sabotage the movement we are building. He wants to silence your voice so Republicans don’t have to explain why they are climate change deniers. McConnell wants this to be the end, this is just the beginning,” Markey said.

Exactly. If McConnell actually does force the Green New Deal to a vote, every Senate Democrat debating the issue should ask one question of each Republican foe over and over: “What’s your plan for dealing with the climate crisis? And come 2020, Democrats should campaign on the Republican answers, most of of which will be uh… er …um …

More of our coverage of the Green New Deal:

(Crossposted from DailyKos. Cartoon by Tom Toles at GoComics.)

About the Author

Meteor Blades is a writer and contributing editor at DailyKos. He believes there is something profoundly wrong with our system. - the unchecked accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of a very small group of corporate business interests has contributed to the wholesale corruption of our political system. For an understanding about the level of corruption in our country, he encourages you to view these two PBS documentaries: (1). ,The Untouchables; (2) The United States of ALEC.