Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senate Minority Leader
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Jack Reed
Representative David Cicilline (already a co-sponsor of HR109)
Representative James Langevin


February 22, 2019



Honorable Senators and Representatives:

In recognition of the hard scientific truth that the time for incremental steps to address the climate crisis has passed, we, the membership of Climate Action Rhode Island, urge you to immediately co-sponsor and proudly champion the Green New Deal resolution.

The latest climate science — as summarized by the IPCC’s October 2018 “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC” and the U.S. government’s November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment — paints a stark picture:

  • Humanity must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40–60% in the next 11 years, and eliminate emissions altogether within three decades. This includes emissions from electric power, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, water heating, and the heating and cooling of buildings.
  • Failure to meet these goals would pose a direct threat to our communities, our food supply, our national security, our families’ lives, and the entire web of life on earth.

With the stakes this high, half-measures that coddle the fossil-fuel status quo are no longer acceptable. We must forcefully usher the fossil-fuel economy out of existence. This conclusion isn’t radical or utopian, but simply the consequence of the laws of physics upon life on Earth.

The Green New Deal resolution is the first approach to the climate crisis that honestly accounts for the massive scale of transformation required. Rapidly upgrading our buildings, transportation, and power networks won’t happen on its own. It will take a national mobilization of the type America specialized in last century, such as the original New Deal. Like past mobilizations, the Green New Deal will rally Americans behind a patriotic vision requiring innovation and rapid change. Beyond “merely” giving us a shot at saving the Earth’s ecosystems and millions of lives (perhaps including our own), the GND’s investments will produce tangible benefits:

  • millions of good new jobs;
  • cleaner air and water, hence better health;
  • quieter, cleaner, faster, cheaper transportation;
  • more comfortable homes;
  • innovative new energy technologies that we can proudly export; and
  • a restoration of America’s role as a world leader.


We have heard three main objections to the Green New Deal resolution.

Objection #1 (Republicans): The Green New Deal is “socialism”, “despotism”, “Venezuela”, etc.

These fevered objections by the President and other defenders of the fossil-fuel status quo are laughable. American history is replete with examples of large-scale government investment applied at times of urgent need. These investments didn’t lead us to despotism, of course; on the contrary, they strengthened our democracy and expanded economic opportunities. The Green New Deal is also in the great American tradition of our landmark worker’s rights and civil rights legislation: it affirms the right of all Americans to clean air and water, healthy food, and a sustainable environment for generations to come.


Objection #2 (timid Democrats): The Green New Deal is a “welcome notion” but unrealistic and politically over-ambitious.

We have three responses to this. First, we believe the political appeal of the Green New Deal is dramatically greater than that of competing approaches to the climate crisis, such as a bill focused primarily on carbon taxes. Carbon taxes work by creating hardship (steep, ever-increasing fees on products Americans currently depend on), in order to motivate them to reduce their carbon footprint. That hardship is a hard sell, and would have to be defended legislatively year after year as the fees rise. By contrast, the Green New Deal resolution frames the crisis of climate change as an opportunity for better jobs, upgraded buildings and infrastructure, and American innovation. It’s a much more inspiring proposal to rally behind.

Second, the GND principles that some have called “extraneous”—such as respecting labor practices, trade rules, and indigenous sovereign rights; providing education and training; and guaranteeing universal health care—are actually not extraneous at all. Upgrading our entire economy to renewable energy will mean a huge disruption for several million workers currently employed by polluting industries. Those workers and their families absolutely must be supported during the transition period, as the Green New Deal provides.

Third, if the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels seems high to bear, how does that compare to the cost of failing to transition — the cost of losing Rhode Island’s coastal towns and beaches forever? The cost of losing Boston and New York City and Miami? The cost of losing tens of thousands of lives to heat waves and crop failures and storms and fires, of driving millions of species extinct, of forcing millions of climate refugees to flee their homes? Clearly, doing nothing is the most unaffordable option of all.


Objection #3 (some environmental activists): The Green New Deal resolution does not go far enough. It aims for only a net-zero emission target, rather than explicitly calling for an end to fossil fuel use. It doesn’t rule out dirty nuclear and biomass power. It fails to account for the carbon emissions inherent in the manufactured products that we import. It does not sufficiently empower frontline communities to create strategies for transitioning their communities justly.

We are aligned with these critiques, and we do not believe the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey resolution is 100% perfect. But yet, we know that time is of the essence. We are setting our quibbles with the resolution aside in order to demonstrate our fervent support for a bold, American mobilization to comprehensively address the climate crisis.


We respectfully urge you to do the same.




Kendra Anderson, President (Warwick)
Nicole DiPaolo, Vice-President (East Providence)
Angel Lopez, Treasurer (Providence)
Terry Bontrager, Secretary (Providence)
Alex Kithes, Political Chair (Woonsocket)
Brian Wilder (Cranston)
Justin Boyan (Providence)
Tim DeChristopher (Pawtucket)
Aaron Hale-Dorrell
Maggie Kain
Zakary Pereira
Christine Rockwell
Jennifer Sparks