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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded to criticism that the expansive Green New Deal aims to outlaw cattle in the United States due to the methane from their flatulence by saying that it was the result of poor staff work.
Ocasio-Cortez made her remarks during a town hall-style meeting about the Green New Deal, an ambitious proposal to take on the challenge of climate change while also extending economic opportunity and security.
Ocasio-Cortez is sponsoring the Green New Deal with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass).
Opponents of the Green New Deal, particularly Republicans, have glommed onto this statement that the Green New Deal would outlaw cattle due to the fact that the methane in their flatulence constitutes greenhouse gas emissions.
But wait, said Ocasio-Cortez said, don’t worry about your cheeseburgers just yet.
“What I will say is that I definitely have a staffer that had a very bad day at work and we did release a working draft early,” she said. “So I get that’s what they’re seizing on. But really what we need to do is have a serious conversation and even in those draft versions, what they were talking about and is really about the fact that we need to innovate on our technology.”
Rather than damage the US economy, one important aim of the Green New Deal is to create “good, dignified, unionized jobs” with the expansion of clean, green energy and related industries, Ocasio-Cortez said.
Talk of creating all of those good jobs while taking meaningful action on climate change clearly has spurred congressional Republicans on this issue in a way they never have been before, according to Heather McGhee, senior fellow at Demos, a progressive think tank in Washington.
“And I don’t think you would have [Sen. Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] and [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] for the first time this month say human beings are causing [climate change] and it’s real if it weren’t for a solution rooted in one of the most popular pieces of legislation,” McGhee said. “It’s popular in Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, Maine. Places where Republican senators are looking at their prospects and saying, ‘Why do we want to be the party of ‘no’ on millions of new jobs?’”
While some look at the planned broad scope of the Green New Deal with concern, Ocasio-Cortez said that it is driven by the scientific consensus, such as that of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which finds that humanity has but a finite time to address the climate issue before changes become irrevocable and ever-worsening across the planet.
“Here is the thing is I get that in our political context in the history of health care, in the history of labor rights, in the history of women’s rights, these are long struggles and generational struggles and that is something important for young activists, as well,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re not the first. We will not be on the last. We stand on the shoulders of giants, but climate change is different because we have an expiration date, and the IPCC report says we’ve got 12 years to turn it around. Twelve years.
“So my concern is that we are going to be the frog in the pot of boiling water, and we are going to debate and debate and debate and debate, and when we actually finally pass something, it’s a wimpy carbon tax and our kids are doomed,” she said.