President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the Green New Deal demonstrate how taking a hard-line stance against the significant climate legislation may play a central role in his 2020 campaign platform.
While speaking last Saturday to the Turning Point USA Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump took aim at the legislation, saying that he’d “rip that sucker.” Perhaps indicating the Green New Deal’s importance on the trail, the reelection-seeking president joins conservative lawmakers like Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst in swaying voters away from desires for transformative climate policy.
“It’s just another Trump misrepresentation,” said Iowa Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who has hosted “climate conversations” with nearly all the Democratic hopefuls as they move through the state. “He is a fraud, and Joni Ernst, at peril to herself politically, will buy into Trump’s misrepresentations. Democrats need to continue to stand for the real solutions that we are offering that solve climate change and create millions of new jobs.”
On the Iowa campaign trail, Hogg said Democratic candidates have offered positive solutions to climate change, most often within the framework of the Green New Deal. Setting the tone for the climate change conversation in the Democratic primary, ideas from the legislation were adopted by most of the top-tier candidates.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored the landmark legislation in the Senate, while candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have included the policy in their climate plans or have spoken in support of the framework.
Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard are actively against the policy, while former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn’t denounced or supported the legislation. The billionaire media mogul in a Bloomberg editorial last March said the GND “stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years.”
“The bottom line is that all of the Democratic candidates who I’ve met with and who are left in the race have a deep commitment to acting on climate,” Hogg said.
His “climate conversations”ended after hosting events with 19 Democratic hopefuls, though some have since dropped out of the race. Warren and Sanders were the only candidates who did not participate.
“Many of the candidates, of course, have committed to supporting a Green New Deal, which basically to me, means a large infrastructure investment, job creation strategy,” he said.
By contrast, Trump uses rhetoric against the legislation, including the spread of misinformation about renewable energy and other climate mitigation strategies on the trail. During his recent speech in South Florida, the president inaccurately spoke out against wind turbines and LED lightbulbs, among other environmental services.
“But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere,” Trump said. “You know we have a world, right? So, the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right?”
During his time in office, Trump has made no secret of his anti-environmental agenda. After notably pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, he’s rolled back clean car standards, rescinded clean power plans and authorized unprecedented new fossil fuel production on protected lands.
“[Trump] has been a climate catastrophe. So, it won’t be a surprise to me if he tries to keep continuing to attack solutions that Democrats support,” Hogg said. “His comments on wind power have been uninformed nonsense and yeah, he’s going to lie about what the Green New Deal is. It’s a concept, a framework for large-scale infrastructure investments that help us solve climate change and create millions of new jobs.”
Ernst and other Republican lawmakers have also campaigned actively against climate change policy. At a recent press conference in Des Moines, local Iowa leaders discussed the impact of climate change on Iowans and asked the senator to “heed the call of her voters, local leaders and scientists and act on climate change.”
“The current track is not sustainable,” said Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner Katie Rock, at the press conference. “Our legislators need to act on climate … By refusing to act on climate change, Sen. Ernst is risking our farmland, our economies, clean air and water, and our abundant access to the outdoors. If Sen. Ernst has any plans to listen to voters and act on climate change, she can start by joining the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus to ensure Iowa is a part of the climate conversation.”
By Isabella Murray