Dozens call for Leahy to sign onto Green New Deal

  • Middle school students Lily Besaw, left, and Veronica Lindstrom participate in a candlight vigil organized by Sunshine Movement Burlington outside U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's offices on Friday, December 6, 2019. The organization is trying to get Sen. Leahy to endorse the Green New Deal. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

VtDigger
Published: 12/8/2019 10:35:38 PM

BURLINGTON — Nearly a hundred activists gathered outside Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office Friday calling on him to endorse the Green New Deal.

At a candlelight vigil organized by local chapters of the national Sunrise Movement, protesters, many of them students, demanded action to address climate change. 

Leahy has so far stopped short of signing onto the nonbinding resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., in February that sets out a framework for the federal government to respond to climate change. The resolution in the Senate has 14 co-sponsors, including Leahy’s seat mate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. 

Though Leahy has expressed support for moving toward the goals of the Green New Deal, he is not a co-sponsor. His staffers told demonstrators that the senator is committed to passing legislation that will work toward its objectives. 

“As a nonbinding resolution, the Green New Deal offers a thoughtful platform for debate and is helping as we work to make many of its themes a legislative reality,” Leahy said in a statement.

“We need real initiatives, real policies, and real investments for a new energy economy that can and should lead not only our nation but the world in addressing the climate crisis,” Leahy said in his statement.

Student activists, however, sought a stronger commitment from the senator.

“We want something more specific than that,” said Clarissa Sprague, a UVM student and Sunrise leader who organized the protest. “We are the generation for a Green New Deal. We have a vision for our futures. And that vision involves a just transition and radical transformation of our society away from fossil fuels in the next 10 years.”

Several students expressed frustration at politicians who continue to voice their support for climate activists, and then fail to take any real action to help address the climate crisis.

Leahy’s staffers noted that the senator is currently co-sponsoring half a dozen different bills aimed at improving climate literacy, expanding renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gases, and more. They also noted that as the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy consistently works to reject the Trump administration’s “persistent quest to gut the budgets and missions of EPA, NOAA, etc.”




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