News Release

Shouldn’t Green New Deal Proposals Address Fossil Fuels?


The Sustainable Energy & Economy Network just released a statement about the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) proposal for a “Green New Deal” for the United States. The group notes: “Missing from that proposal was any mention of fossil fuels or a phaseout in fossil fuel consumption, despite the fact that fossil fuels are at the heart of the problem the Plan proposes to address: climate change.”

The group highlights efforts in the Pacific Northwest: “The Portland, Oregon-based Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE) has joined in coalition with grassroots and environmental justice organizations from around Oregon in calling for an Oregon Green New Deal to advance a state-level policy agenda that will complement congressional Green New Deal efforts. Today, in a report entitled, ‘Beyond Cap and Trade: A Green New Deal for Oregon,’ CSE released the beginning of an outline for what a Green New Deal for Oregon might look like. Their proposal calls for:

* No new fossil fuel infrastructure
* Ensuring the polluter — and not the taxpayer or fenceline communities — pays for climate and public health damages
* Building a climate-resilient workforce
* Monitoring and regulating all greenhouse gas emissions
* Rescinding or redirecting harmful subsidies that undermine Paris Accord goals
* Redirecting subsidies for urban sprawl, highway expansion to electrification of transport and low-cost public transit
* A climate test for all state-funded or -authorized projects
* Expediting the transition to 100 percent renewable energy in line with Paris Accords
* Making climate smart forest practices the law and not the exception
* Investing and removing barriers to regenerative agricultural solutions, and
* Reducing demand for carbon intensive goods and services

“The call for no new fossil fuel infrastructure is echoing throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the country. Just one week prior, on Jan 28, 2019, the King County Council in Washington voted by 6-3 to pass an immediate moratorium to prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure, joining other jurisdictions on the West and East coasts in taking action on the climate crisis with local authority. The King County ordinance disallows permitting for major fossil-fuel projects in unincorporated King County, following the example of Portland, OR, which was the first city in the country to put in place an ordinance calling for an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure in 2016.”

JESS WALLACH, jess.wallach at, @350_Seattle
Wallach is with 350 Seattle and said today: “Saying no to new fossil fuel infrastructure is the first step to saying yes to real climate action, yes to a just transition and yes to a healthy climate future for all. King County just took a bold first step towards this fossil free future — now it’s time for our elected officials working on a Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. to do the same.”

NICK CALEB,  nick.caleb at

Caleb is staff attorney for the Portland, Oregon-based Center for Sustainable Economy, and played a key role in the Portland ordinance and played a key role in the Portland ordinance, which he said “has withstood several legal challenges by the fossil fuel industry and others. The King County ordinance goes further than Portland’s in that it declares an emergency and directs the county executive’s office to review existing fossil fuel facilities, study those facilities’ impacts on local communities and prepare recommendations to mitigate their health and environmental harms. With the passage of this ordinance, King County joins a growing wave of communities stopping fossil fuel projects before they start — including Portland, five separate WA jurisdictions, including two of the state’s largest counties, and Baltimore MD.

“Climate advocates and local elected officials in the Pacific Northwest have stepped in where our federal government has failed us — calling for an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure because climate science tells us we must. With so many fossil fuel projects still being proposed, we now need all elected officials who want to act on climate to band together and enact moratoria on all new fossil fuel infrastructure as part of a Green New Deal.”

Anthony Rogers-Wright, a member of the board of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, said: “This moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure is a big deal for King County, a huge deal for Cascadia, and an indication of things to come for the country overall. The excellent work of local organizers should be lauded as they join environmental justice advocates nationally in calling for an end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure as part of any Green New Deal. The climate crisis is a global crisis that must be fought and led at the local level. The discrepancies contained in the most recent release of a Green New Deal resolution vindicates this idea. These are the lessons we’ve learned from frontline coalitions like the Climate Justice Alliance, NY Renews and others. What we learned today is that this must also be a bottom-up process, we cannot centralize all the power in D.C. and expect that federal solutions are the only solutions to dismantle the climate crisis — local action is global action. We still have some work to do to turn six months into forever — but the journey starts with the first step, and this was a great step in the right direction to a fossil-free future.”