The talk among progressives and the Democratic establishment this week has centered largely on the stunning upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over party stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley in a Congressional primary in a working-class district of New York City on Tuesday. Ocasio-Cortez’s solidly progressive, impressively ambitious platform has rightly been heralded by pundits and the media as a new marker for equality-minded leadership in Congress. Particular attention has been paid to her bold climate and energy agenda.
Ocasio-Cortez’s climate agenda is based on a strong, clear, and unambiguous call for 100% clean, renewable energy in America by 2035, and a “green new deal” of economic and environmental justice. We need more voices like hers in the next Congress. Fortunately, we may soon have them.
Support for Full Renewable Transition Growing
There is already a growing movement in Congress to pass legislation that would give America completely clean energy by 2035 – the platform Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on – and there are dozens of Congressional candidates aligned with the movement waiting in the wings to join her in D.C. in January.
Last September, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future (OFF) Act, which among other things would ban all new fossil fuel extraction and move the country to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035, all while prioritizing environmental justice and ensuring a just transition. This is by far the strongest, most comprehensive, most aggressive climate and energy legislation ever introduced. Currently, 35 members of Congress have co-sponsored the bill, formally adding their voices to the call for its passage into law.
Food & Water Action Leads on Climate Change
Last year, Food & Water Action stood with Rep. Gabbard and original co-sponsors Reps. Nanette Barragan, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin as they introduced the bill and helped kick off the campaign to rally support for this critical legislation around the country. More than 400 groups including Progressive Democrats of America, National Nurses United, Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, and a host of grassroots organizations from coast to coast endorse the OFF Act and are organizing to move it forward.
Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a compete energy transformation by 2035 is consistent with science and follows her pledge to co-sponsor the OFF Act when she is in congress. In fact, she was one of the very first Congressional candidates to do so. And she’s not alone. More than 100 federal candidates have pledged to support the OFF Act – so far, 23 of them have won their primary fights and will compete in the general election in November.
A Growing Climate Caucus in the Next Congress
A handful of these candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez and Deb Haaland (NM-1), are in largely Democratic districts and are certain to join Gabbard in fighting for the OFF Act in Congress next year. Many others constitute some of the most competitive and high-profile races in the country. These include Katie Hill, who is taking on Steve Knight in CA-25, Katie Porter, who is taking on Mimi Walters in CA-45, Kara Eastman, who defeated a former congressman in her primary and will be taking on Don Bacon in NE-2, Liuba Grechen Shirley, who will be taking on Peter King in NY-2, and Gil Cisneros, who will be competing for the open seat vacated by Ed Royce in CA-39. In Wisconsin, both Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, who are running to replace retiring speaker Paul Ryan, have pledged to support the OFF Act.
While it is not clear who will emerge victorious in all of these and other competitive races in November, what is clear is that when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez heads to Congress in January, she will be in strong company in her fight to address the climate crisis. She will be joining a growing number of fighters for climate justice in the critical struggle to protect our planet and all people living on it.