Three progressive lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would require President Joe Biden to declare a national climate emergency, arguing that the US is “out of time and excuses” to deal with the climate crisis.
The National Climate Emergency Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, would direct Biden to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, allowing him to unlock sweeping presidential powers and be able to organize resources to mitigate climate change.
They had introduced a similar resolution in 2019 — but it had little hope of advancing in the Republican-led Senate and under former President Donald Trump. Now, the lawmakers have re-energized their efforts under a new administration committed to combating climate change with an ambitious plan to do so.
“President Biden has done an outstanding job of prioritizing climate in the first days of his administration, but after years of blatant ignorance from Trump and Congressional republicans, an even larger mobilization is needed,” Blumenauer said in a statement unveiling the proposal.
If passed, the bill would require Biden to provide Congress with a report detailing the executive branch’s actions in combating the climate crisis. The bill would push the executive branch to upgrade infrastructure, modernize buildings to curb pollution, and protect public lands, among other investments.
“We’ve made a lot of progress since we introduced this resolution two years ago, but now we have to meet the moment. We are out of time and excuses,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the statement.
She added, “Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale.”
The Center for Biological Diversity, an organization backing the bill, said in a statement that declaring a climate emergency would allow Biden to be able “to redirect military funds to build clean energy systems, marshal private industry for clean technology manufacturing, generate millions of high-quality jobs and finally put an end to dangerous crude oil exports.”
Ocasio-Cortez and Blumenauer had previously cast their 2019 resolution as a necessary start to a long fight for implementing key parts of the Green New Deal climate change proposal.