Fe­in­stein’s de­bate with chil­dren over cli­mate goes vi­ral

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY PAUL ELIAS As­so­ci­ated Press

U.S. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein and a group of San Fran­cisco Bay Area stu­dents squared off over cli­mate change in a some­times tense ex­change cap­tured on video and widely shared on so­cial me­dia.

The 15-minute video of the im­promptu Fri­day meet­ing cap­tures the stu­dents and Fe­in­stein de­bat­ing the mer­its of the Green New Deal, an am­bi­tious Demo­cratic plan to shift the U.S. econ­omy from fos­sil fu­els to re­new­able sources such as wind and so­lar power.

The stu­dents pas­sion­ately urged the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat to sup­port the leg­is­la­tion. But Fe­in­stein, a 27-year vet­eran of the Se­nate, ar­gued that the leg­is­la­tion had no chance of pass­ing the Repub­li­can­con­trolled cham­ber.

“That res­o­lu­tion will not pass the Se­nate, and you can take that back to who­ever sent you here and tell them,” Fe­in­stein re­sponded after the stu­dents in­sisted the leg­is­la­tion was badly needed. “I’ve been in the Se­nate for over a quar­ter of a cen­tury and I know what can pass and I know what can’t pass.”

Repub­li­cans have mocked the Green New Deal as a pro­gres­sive pipedream that would drive the econ­omy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax in­crease, calling it ev­i­dence of the creep of so­cial­ism in the Demo­cratic party.

In­stead, Fe­in­stein said she sup­ported an al­ter­nate plan.

The stu­dents are mem­bers of Sun­rise Move­ment, an ac­tivist group that en­cour­ages chil­dren to com­bat cli­mate change.

Sun­rise Move­ment’s Bay Area leader Morissa Zuck­er­man posted the de­bate on the group’s Face­book page. A few hours later, edited ver­sions were be­ing shared widely across so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

Zuck­er­man said Satur­day the group didn’t have an ap­point­ment with Fe­in­stein. Zuck­er­man said the group had ear­lier sought a meet­ing with Fe­in­stein, but the se­na­tor’s staff said she was un­avail­able.

It was the stu­dents’ de­ci­sion to call on Fein- stein’s San Fran­cisco of­fice on Fri­day, Zuck­er­man said.

In the video, Zuck­er­man says, “If this doesn’t get turned around in 10 years, you’re look­ing at the faces of the peo­ple who are go­ing to be liv­ing with the con­se­quences.”

Fe­in­stein coun­tered that she un­der­stands the con­se­quences of cli­mate change.

“I’ve been do­ing this for 30 years. I know what I’m do­ing,” Fe­in­stein said. “You come in here and you say it has to be my way or the high­way. I don’t re­spond to that.”

Later Fri­day, Fe­in­stein is­sued a state­ment calling the de­bate a “spir­ited dis­cus­sion” and said “I want the chil­dren to know they were heard loud and clear.”


In this im­age from video, U.S. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-Calif., speaks with a group of stu­dents who wanted to dis­cuss the Green New Deal, an am­bi­tious Demo­cratic plan to shift the U.S. econ­omy from fos­sil fu­els and to re­new­able sources, at her of­fice in San Fran­cisco.

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