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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t get a spot on Kathy Castor’s Climate Change Committee

The freshman Democrat is a driving force behind the Green New Deal but she didn’t make the cut.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., arrives to hear President Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Published Feb. 7
Updated Feb. 7

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday announced the Democratic members of the new Climate Change Committee, to be led by Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor.

Noticeably absent from the committee roster is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman progressive who has used her vast star power to pressure for a bolder strategy to address global warming. Ocasio-Cortez joined a sit-in protest in Pelosi’s office, demanding a climate change committee with legislative and subpoena power focused on the so-called Green New Deal, a plan to drastically curb carbon emissions by 2030.

Castor has vowed to mold the new committee in the spirit of the Green New Deal, she told the Tampa Bay Times last month.

“I’m not going to rest until we make true progress,” Castor said.

RELATED: Tension in Democratic Party has a home on Kathy Castor’s climate change committee

The Times asked Castor’s office if the Tampa Democrat had a say in who made the cut for her committee. We’ll update the story with her answer.

Update: Here’s what she said: “I made suggestions to the Speaker and discussed the balance and diversity of the committee. Many more members requested to serve on the committee than the nine seats available. There are many, many smart and talented members in the House Democratic Caucus who are ready to tackle climate change. The members announced today are outstanding, smart and devoted to clean energy solutions, quality jobs and a future for our children free from perilous extreme weather events, suffocating heat and dire health impacts.”

Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday released the legislative framework for the Green New Deal, which sets the goal of moving all United States energy production to renewable resources.

“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez told NPR.

Three of the Climate Change Committee members are from California and none represent the Northeast. They are: Reps. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Julia Brownley of California, Sean Casten of Illinois, Jared Huffman of California, Mike Levin of California, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Republicans have not yet said who they will appoint to the committee, nor whether they will seat climate change skeptics or members of the party who believe the scientific research.

Update: Here’s Castor’s full statement on the new committee members.

“I am humbled by Speaker Pelosi’s confidence in me to lead the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and I again thank her for the opportunity to tackle climate change head on. The climate crisis already is taking a toll on my neighbors in Florida and communities across America. We have a moral obligation to act to protect our great country and future generations from the costly impacts of the changing climate. I am determined to begin work immediately and look forward to the commitment, passion, experience and perspectives of each of my Democratic colleagues.

“The newly appointed Democratic members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis are ready to stand up to corporate polluters and special interests as we press for urgent action to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward a clean energy economy with a qualified workforce and a just transition. Climate deniers, fossil fuel companies and other special interests have had an outsized influence in promoting outdated, dirty policies and we will stand up to these forces – we have no choice. We do not have the time for distractions or delay. Our moral obligation to act includes a responsibility to ensure that Americans who suffer disproportionately from climate change – workers, communities of color and low-income Americans – enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as the wealthy.

“The Committee will propose new national policies for a clean energy economy based upon recommendations from citizens across America. This Committee’s work will be informed by settled, cutting edge science and research focused on how climate change is impacting our people and communities – and how we overcome these impacts. As President Kennedy once said at an earlier watershed moment in our nation’s history, ‘Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.’

“Climate change is not up for debate – it is real and its costly consequences are undeniable. We must act boldly together, and I look forward to working with this distinguished and determined group of colleagues to do just that.”


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