The Green New Deal has been a contentious issue within the Democratic Party. The proposed plan would consist of a federal jobs guarantee as well as a pledge to get off fossil fuels entirely in the U.S. by the year 2050.
Rather than implementing the Green New Deal select committee supported by the Sunrise movement and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the new leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and other House Democrats have implemented a different select committee made to combat Climate Change.
However, this new bureaucracy fails to keep the influence of the fossil fuel industry from the important decisions regarding climate change.
The proposed Green New Deal has brought national attention to the Democrat’s plans to mitigate climate change and, in the process, has pointed out the glaring conflicts of interest among House Democrats.
An issue often criticized by environmentalists is the Democratic Party’s willingness to accept contributions by the very industries they are meant to be regulating.
It is important for progressive environmentalists to hold Democrats accountable when they take money from an industry that is responsible for the majority of carbon emissions that result in global temperature increases.
The head of this committee, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), has not taken a significant amount from the fossil fuel industry for her own campaigns, which is encouraging.
However, when E&E News asked about barring other potential Democrats on the committee who have received fossil fuel money Castor said, “I don’t think you can do that under the first amendment.”
With that comment, she implied that campaign contributions equate to legal speech, which follows the logic of the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, a contentious decision in democratic circles. It may be legal for fossil fuel companies to invest in politicians, but that doesn’t mean Democrats need to adhere to the absurd principle that representatives are somehow not influenced by the campaign contributions they receive.
That attitude toward fossil fuel contributions should not give anyone confidence that this committee will make bold moves when it comes to climate change. Those contributions are just short of outright bribes. Oil and gas companies want to stop the select committee from mitigating their profits and they see those campaign contributions as an investment in order to facilitate that process.
While Castor’s personal record is encouraging, the rules she has chosen to apply to the committee do not bode well for the Democratic Party’s environmental record.
If democratic politicians want environmentalists to have faith in them, they must take a hard look at what kind of contributions they are willing to accept.
Jared Sellick is junior majoring in political science.