House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) speaks during a mark-up hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse is celebrating Colorado’s contribution to a landmark congressional climate-change plan, and pledging to continue pressing for stronger federal policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
“Solving the Climate Crisis,” the report released by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on June 30, contains more than 500 pages of policy recommendations involving everything from wind and solar power and electric cars to strengthening disaster recovery programs and issues of environmental justice. Neguse, who sat on the committee and helped bring it to Colorado for a field hearing at the University of Colorado Boulder last year, said that Colorado’s leadership on climate and clean-energy issues helped shape the report.
“I think that the climate roadmap is something that we can be very proud of,” Neguse said in a call July 1 with elected officials from several Colorado cities and counties. “The fact that Colorado’s ideas and Colorado’s approach is embedded in the report is something that we all can be grateful for.”
Among the recommendations championed by Neguse include a revival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program that spearheaded public-lands projects in the West, and other efforts to protect public lands and boost wildfire mitigation. The plan also calls on the federal government to promote “regenerative agriculture,” a set of climate-friendly farming and ranching practices aimed at improving biodiversity, water conservation, carbon sequestration and more. Many smaller farms in Neguse’s Front Range district have adopted such practices, through which farmers are able both to adapt to a changing climate and do their part to reduce emissions.
“Our members, and all farmers and ranchers, frankly, are affected by climate change on a daily basis,” said Nick Levendofsky, with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “It affects their way of life probably more than anyone else, because they rely so much on the weather and the climate to do what they do for a living.”
The plan released by House Democrats falls well short of the scope of the Green New Deal, the progressive-backed proposal to massively expand federal spending in hopes of achieving net-zero emissions as soon as 2030. Modeling included in the committee’s report estimates that its plan would result in only a 37% cut in emissions by 2030 and an 88% cut by 2050, though its authors write that these figures “should be considered a floor, not a ceiling” as additional recommendations are implemented.
Neguse, who supports the Green New Deal, told Newsline in an interview that while he believes the report is a good starting point, there’s much more work to be done in fleshing out its recommendations and passing them into law.
“I’m excited about the work ahead,” he said. “I think of this not as the last step, but really the first step. In many respects, our work begins now.”
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