For now, at least in the Senate, the Green New Deal is dead.
That’s not a total surprise, but the way Tuesday’s vote played out says a lot about the current state of climate politics. On one side, we saw Democrats vote “present” to protest the lack of honest debate about the biggest problem we face as a civilization. On the other, we had a sitting U.S. senator show a photo of Ronald Reagan wielding a machine gun while riding a velociraptor on the floor of Congress — apparently as an argument that the Green New Deal is silly.
That latter contribution was from Utah Senator Mike Lee, and was meant to distract us from the real news: The Green New Deal is the only bold, fresh idea in the federal government to tackle climate change and the Republicans have no serious answer to it.
More worrying than Republicans’ planet-threatening denial, though, was the seeming lack of urgency shown by moderate Democrats. Though he didn’t address the Green New Deal by name, President Obama lamented the cost of “big, bold ideas” in comments this week. And Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper (whom this newsletter has recently praised) wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post denouncing the plan as “unachievable.” Earlier this month, Hickenlooper was the only Democratic presidential candidate to attend an oil industry meeting in Houston — not a good look if you’re trying to center your campaign around climate change.
If you need a boost after all that, here’s one: In recent days, both New Mexico and Puerto Rico have officially embarked on their own Green New Deals, mandating 100 percent carbon-free energy. If only the rest of the country could skip the infuriating delays and actually get on with business, we might be able to have a future on a still-habitable planet.