Democrats: In­fra­struc­ture bills must tackle cli­mate change

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Kevin Frek­ing and Matthew Daly

WASH­ING­TON >> Demo­cratic lead­ers in Congress de­manded Fri­day that ma­jor leg­is­la­tion on roads, bridges and other in­fra­struc­ture in­clude ef­forts to curb global warm­ing, com­pli­cat­ing prospects for a deal with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on a jobs-boost­ing bill that both par­ties have tar­geted as a pri­or­ity.

Schumer said Fri­day in a let­ter to Trump that cli­mate change will cause “un­told hu­man suf­fer­ing and sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the U.S. econ­omy” if left unchecked. The New York Demo­crat called for per­ma­nent tax cred­its to boost pro­duc­tion of wind and so­lar en­ergy and to make homes and of­fices more en­ergy ef­fi­cient. He also urged loans to com­mu­ni­ties that would in­vest in projects that limit dam­age caused by hur­ri­canes and other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

The let­ter comes as liberal groups and law­mak­ers —in­clud­ing Demo­cratic Rep.-elect Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez of New York— push to en­sure that poli­cies to ad­dress cli­mate change re­main at the top of the Democrats’ leg­isla­tive agenda. Oca­sio-Cortez, Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders and other pro­gres­sives are call­ing for a “Green New Deal” that would ramp up ef­forts to in­stall so­lar pan­els and wind tur­bines and man­u­fac­ture more elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Trump and con­gres­sional lead­ers from both par­ties have sin­gled out in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment as an is­sue that Repub­li­cans and Democrats could po­ten­tially rally around next year af­ter Democrats as­sume control of the House. But Trump has made it a pri­or­ity to undo his pre­de­ces­sor’s ef­forts to curb change re­leased by his own ad­min­is­tra­tion. The re­port, is­sued last month, warned that nat­u­ral dis­as­ters are wors­en­ing in the United States be­cause of global warm­ing, with costs ap­proach­ing $400 bil­lion since 2015.

“I don’t be­lieve it,” Trump said.

Law­mak­ers are al­ready ex­pected to strug­gle with the ques­tion of how to pay for an in­fra­struc­ture bill, which is likely to cost hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars even as fed­eral bud­get deficits are ex­pected to soar above $1 tril­lion this year. Us­ing the in­fra­struc­ture bill to ad­dress en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns is cer­tain to add ad­di­tional ten­sions to the mix.

House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is seek­ing to be­come speaker in Jan­uary, has in­di­cated she will likely re­in­state a spe­cial com­mit­tee on cli­mate change, al­though ex­act de­tails have not been fi­nal­ized. Pelosi cre­ated the com­mit­tee when she be­came speaker in 2007, but it was dis­banded af­ter Repub­li­cans won back the House in 2010. Pelosi said Democrats will re­build Amer­ica with “with clean en­ergy, smart tech­nol­ogy and re­silient in­fra­struc­ture.”

J. SCOTT AP­PLE­WHITE— AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., leaves a closed-door se­cu­rity briefing by CIA Di­rec­tor Gina Haspel on the slay­ing of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi and the in­volve­ment of the Saudi crown prince, Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, at the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton, Tues­day, Dec. 4, 2018.

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