September 18, 2019

Bloomberg Law: Centrist House Democrats Call For Bipartisan Climate Approach

Centrist House Democrats Call For Bipartisan Climate Approach

  • New Democrat Coalition advocates nuclear, carbon capture
  • Proposal falls short for left-leaning environmentalists

A coalition of centrist House Democrats are seeking for greater bipartisanship in the climate debate, as Republicans question whether the majority’s proposals will achieve reasonable results and left-leaning groups criticize the approach as too weak.

The New Democrat Coalition unveiled a statement of principles Sept. 18 along with a list of 12 bills—seven of them bipartisan—that they believe will offer concrete solutions to climate change.

The policy recommendations set a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, a target that is in line with House Democratic leaders on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

It stops short of the broader vision of the Green New Deal, a House resolution (H.Res. 109) introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) that calls for the rapid transformation of the economy away from fossil fuels over the next decade.

“Rather than create a list of aspirational goals that we don’t feel are clearly defined and don’t have legislation behind them, we decided to roll up our sleeves and come up with an initial platform of legislation and build on that,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), co-chair of the coalition’s climate change task force, said.

‘Pro-Getting Things Done’

The lawmakers announced the priorities as 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg made the rounds on Capitol Hill to plead that Congress take more aggressive action on climate change.

The moderate approach to climate change was lauded by business-friendly environmental organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund.

The New Democratic Coalition is “pro-business, they’re pro-market, and they’re pro-getting things done,” Fred Krupp, president of EDF, said at a news conference.

But Friends of the Earth, a left-leaning environmental group, said the New Democrats “lack the courage” to take a more ambitious approach.

“As a package, this centrist legislation fails to match the urgency of the climate crisis,” Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

Ghio added that the New Democratic Coalition “continue to support expensive false solutions like nuclear and carbon capture and storage.”

Getting to Common Ground

Democrats will need to support carbon capture and nuclear in order to get the GOP on board, Republicans say.

The Democrats’ chief climate bill since they regained the House majority, H.R. 9, would force the Trump administration to remain in the Paris climate agreement. The bill passed the House but has virtually no chance of getting a vote in the Senate.

Earlier in the day, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) accused Democrats of not engaging with Republicans “in any meaningful way” on climate change.

But Walden sees opportunities for working with the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

“There’s a lot we could do together, as we have in the past, on innovative energy policy and environmental policy that not only grows innovation and jobs in America but also reduces emissions without overburdening consumers,” Walden told Bloomberg Environment.

“At the end of the day I think there’s some common ground that can be had that would be good for the environment, good for the economy,” Walden said.
Measures to bolster nuclear energy, clean industrial technology, and carbon capture and sequestration are among the ones with bipartisan support.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Rob Tricchinelli at