Portland Rep. Earl Blumenauer is partnering with two high-profile members of Congress — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — on a resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency.
Blumenauer said he came up with the idea for the resolution as a contrast to President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Trump has phonied up the border situation, abused the notion of a national emergency,” Blumenauer said in an interview before the climate resolution was formally unveiled on Tuesday. “This is an honest-to-goodness crisis.”
The resolution calls for “a national social, industrial, and economic mobilization” on a massive scale to deal with the consequences of climate change and “restore the climate for future generations.”
The call for a climate emergency is another attempt by Democrats to ratchet up political pressure on Trump and the Republican majority in the Senate. It follows in the wake of the Green New Deal, another largely symbolic resolution sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., that lays out a series of steps for dramatically curbing climate-warming pollutants.
Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old lawmaker who has gained national attention since her upset victory last year in a primary race against a Democratic incumbent, said in a conference call with Sanders and Blumenauer that the science behind climate change is well-established.
“This is a political crisis of inaction” she said, adding that it’s going to “take political courage in order for us to treat this emergency with the urgency the next generation needs in order to preserve our way of life, and to preserve our planet as much as we possibly can.”
Sanders, who is running for president, said the main target should be the fossil fuel industry, which he said is resisting efforts to shift to non-polluting forms of energy.
Blumenauer said that the three lawmakers have not yet worked to get support from other co-sponsors. The resolution does have support from environmental groups that have been working to get similar declarations from governments around the world. So far, they have persuaded more than 700 city and regional governments to take that action, according to The Climate Mobilization.
The announcement of the resolution came one day after Trump said in a speech that the U.S. has been reducing carbon emissions and preserving clean air and water under his watch. However, he did not specifically bring up the subject of climate change — and several of the statistics he cited were questioned by fact checkers.