By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
DAVIS – “Green New Deal” community supporters bum-rushed and occupied the district offices here of Rep. John Garamendi Friday – nearly 100 of them rallied earlier outside – delivering climate change petitions and urging Garamendi to join more than 60 House democrats and back a resolution to battle climate change on a massive scale.
Garamendi staff “hosted” the protestors for nearly an hour, and late Friday his office released a brief statement to the Vanguard, noting Garamendi “appreciates the passion from the community for action on climate change, and he shares their commitment to addressing the climate crisis in a swift and comprehensive manner. He is reviewing the Green New Deal legislation.”
Staff pointed to the lawmaker’s history on climate change/environmental policy, and explained how the Congressman “intends to use his newly awarded Chairmanship of the Readiness Subcommittee within the House Armed Services Committee to address climate change.”
But those attending the rally Friday at the federal lawmaker’s G Street District Office weren’t satisfied.
“Talk, talk, talk. We need action now,” said one activist inside Garamendi’s office. “There is a great deal of urgency. We’ve already been impacted by smoke and fires; we need to stop oil drilling in our oceans…just keep it (oil) in the ground,” said another.
Another young activist said she and friends are talking about not having children because they don’t want to bring them into the world with climate Armageddon.
The climate activists demanded Garamendi and other members of Congress for “real climate leadership (and) a Green New Deal.”
“For too long fossil fuel executives and politicians have bankrolled, have actively sowed doubt among the public about climate change to protect their power and profits. Indigenous peoples, communities of color and low-income families suffer the worst impacts of pollution and the climate crisis. Our window for action to prevent catastrophic climate change is quickly closing. We’re calling on elected leaders like you to fight for the bold, just climate solutions we need, before our communities and the planet run out of time,” read the petition delivered to Garamendi’s office.
Garamendi, and other congressional lawmakers, are being asked to support the resolution that includes (1) a halt to new fossil fuel extraction and subsidies, and transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 or sooner (2) decarbonize agriculture and transportation sectors (3) expand access to public transportation, ensure “fair and just transition” led by impacted workers, low income and communities of color, “without relying on corporate schemes or market based mechanisms (4) uphold indigenous rights and finally, (5) pass a national jobs guarantee by creating good jobs with collective bargaining and family-sustaining wages.
Nick Buxton, speaking outside the office, said that while it is easy to “blame Trump…we can’t continue with politics as usual…what is not realistic is to allow this to continue as is.
“What we need is the political will,” he said, recounting the story from World War II, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought the car companies in and told them to stop making cars and, said Buxton – American car manufacturers produced just 137 cars in three years. He also cited how the U.S. came up with trillions of dollars to resolve the bank crisis of about a decade ago. “Political will,” Buxton said.
Buxton said Garamendi and other lawmakers have to have the same political will to “fight tooth and nail” and “not rest” until the climate crisis is resolved.
“The message came across loud and clear that we don’t want partial pragmatic responses to the climate crisis and that Garamendi’s actions and approach are not sufficient. We need bold ambitious urgent action embodied in the vision of the Green New Deal,” Buxton wrote after the rally.
Francisco Dominguez noted that “Indigenous Peoples have been targeted since Day 1,” and explained how Indigenous youth and others at Standing Rock were labeled terrorists just for wanting clean water to drink.
Garamendi, in an interview just today, said the effect of climate change on military installations would be a target of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. He’s the chair.
“Climate change is going to be one of the principle reasons for wars, revolutions, refugees and … disruption around the world,” Garamendi said in an interview in Politico. “This is the one [subcommittee] … where there’s a direct opportunity to have the U.S. Department of Defense and all of its various elements engaged, prepared, ready for that.”
The Green New Deal has made headlines ever since Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) joined the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats in a sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office to promote the Green New Deal in late November.
“We do not have a choice. We have to get to one hundred per cent renewable energy in 10 years. There is no other option,” she said. Now, scores of Congressional members, at least five Presidential candidates and as many as 80 percent of American voters, according to some polls, support the Green New Deal.
The resolution introduced this last week brings forward the broad goals talked up by Ocasio-Cortez and others, but doesn’t go as far as some would like – it doesn’t ban all fossil fuel and leaves open the possibility of nuclear energy to reach zero emissions.
Supporters of the measure note how when President Kennedy five decades ago announced a goal of sending an American to the moon in 10 years, he didn’t say how it would be done. Eventually it took a rocket made of new metals that hadn’t even been invented when Kennedy announced the goal. But he said the Americans needed to be bold.