WASHINGTON — Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn thinks his young Democratic colleagues are naive for pushing for a “Green New Deal” to combat climate change.
The Democrats’ sweeping plan sounds “too much like a Soviet five-year plan or something like that,” Lamborn told his colleagues Wednesday at a U.S. House hearing about climate change. The 5th District Republican, who represents Colorado Springs, said of the Green New Deal: It’s “simply not going to work.”
The general thrust of a Green New Deal — fighting climate change by transitioning the U.S. energy sector away from fossil fuels while boosting jobs in clean-energy technologies, such as wind and solar — has been embraced by Democrats, including House freshmen and presidential candidates.
Some of its vocal supporters include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd District. Democratic presidential hopefuls including Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren have backed the idea, too.
Lamborn, 64, told the Natural Resources Committee he can understand how some of his younger colleagues have bought into the idea.
“You only have to be 25 years old to be a member of Congress, and we have young people that bring a lot of great qualities, but maybe they don’t bring a lot of life experience,” he said. “I guess I can understand if someone has not a lot of life experience and they’re proposing something that’s extremely unrealistic, well, impossible.”
He can’t understand how “adults and grownups, who are more mature,” would also be advocating for the plan, he said.
“I see that with some of the presidential contenders who are throwing their names out there. They’re plugging for something that is literally impossible.”
Ocasio-Cortez, 29, has been one of the leading champions of the Green New Deal in the new Congress. The freshman lawmaker is expected to soon introduce her formal plan.
“Next week, we plan to release a resolution that outlines the scope and scale of the Green New Deal,” she wrote in a letter to her colleagues, Bloomberg reported this week. “In it, we call for a national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II.”
Neguse, a 34-year-old House freshman who’s also on the Natural Resources panel, touted his support for a Green New Deal at the hearing, ahead of Lamborn’s comments. Neguse wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he’ll be one of the first co-sponsors of Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation.
He told The Colorado Independent in an interview last week that a Green New Deal should include “a transformation of our reliance on conventional sources of energy, carbon emitting and so forth, into a renewable energy future that is 100 percent renewable and in so doing leveraging the ingenuity and the skills of the American people to ensure that folks aren’t left behind as we transition.”
Neguse took issue with comments from a witness at the hearing Wednesday who questioned the need for drastic action to combat climate change.
“Based on current assessments of the science, man-made climate change is not an existential threat on the timescale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation,” said Judith Curry, a retired climatologist who has often testified in Congress to challenge the prevailing climate science.
“I think climate change is an existential threat,” Neguse replied.
“I can tell you that certainly in my community in Colorado, we are feeling the impacts of climate change already,” he added, pointing to increased flooding and erosion caused by snow melting faster, and damage to plants and animals at Rocky Mountain National Park due to rising temperatures.
“At the end of the day, I think this is the defining issue of our time,” he said.
The Natural Resources Committee hearing Wednesday was one of two held in the House that morning. They marked the first climate change hearings in that chamber in more than eight years, since Republicans took control of the House in 2010.
At a separate climate change hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of the 1st District called for the United States to stay in the Paris climate accord.
DeGette called the hearing “the first step” toward action on climate change, noting that Democrats intend to push legislation to curb emissions.
“We’re actually going to move this through and I know we can do it in a bipartisan way,” she said.