Get our newsletters

Town hall touts Green New Deal plan


What if, environmental activist Jenny Isaacs wondered, climate change is not an imminent threat to civilization?

What if the Earth is just going through a normal warming phase? What if, in the next 20 or 30 years, science backs off its claim of environmental disaster?

Would the Green New Deal, an aggressive proposed plan to remake the U.S. economy in the name of reversing climate change, still be a viable option, she asked?

The answer, according to a panel of environmental experts who spoke at a town hall meeting in Perkasie Saturday morning, is a resounding “yes!” Using terms such as “Energy Democracy,” “Environmental Justice,” and the “Social Cost of Carbon,” they extolled the virtues of the Green New Deal.”

Isaacs, chair of the Bucks County Green party, said the Green New Deal is “a great deal, no matter what. It fixes a lot of things that are broken in our society.”

In addition to Issacs, speakers included Russell Zerbe, an advocate for the Clean Air Council, and Vera Cole, president of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association. Their unanimous message was that the Green New Deal would reduce greenhouse gases in the short term before achieving net zero emissions by 2030.

In the process, they said, it would tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change by mobiling vast public resources to create millions of high-paying jobs, provide much-needed investment in infrastructure and secure for all people clean air and water, healthy food and access to the unspoiled environment.

Inspired by the Sunrise Movement, the town hall was one of more than 250 events held across the country on May 11 concerning the Green New Deal, which is currently in the House of Representatives. About 75 people attended the meeting, which was sponsored by Upper BuxMont Rising, a grassroots activist group that grew out of the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017. It was held in a large group instructional room at Pennridge High School.

Patterned after FDR’s New Deal, which helped pull the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression, the stated goals of the Green New Deal resolution include cleaning up American energy policies while helping American workers transition to cleaner industries, creating millions of good, high wage jobs, rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure for a cleaner, safer future, and promoting justice and equity for oppressed Americans.

Zerbe said the New Green Deal would address “awful ideas of zero waste” that includes incineration of trash, turn Keystone Opportunity Zones from environmental disasters to worthwhile economic development assets, reinvent stormwater management regulations, and provide cheaper electricity to poor communities.

Isaacs said programs similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, the National Youth Administration and Rural Electrification Administration would put millions of people to work with secure jobs.

“We understand it’s all about jobs,” said Isaacs. “It doesn’t have to be a tradeoff. We can have good jobs and a sustainable future. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

“There’s tons of work to be done, retrofitting and climate-proofing every building in the United States,” she added.

Letting the government take the lead, will “reign in the widespread pursuit of profit at the expense of health and welfare. Put people at the center of the equation, not profits.”

Cole, a West Rockhill resident, said the Green New Deal would would promote renewable energy sources, which account for only about nine percent of the country’s consumption, over fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

Cole said she used to think climate change was something future generations would have to deal with. But recent data have convinced her the threat is much closer.

“The time to start is now,” she said. “There is a natural and scientific reason for it to happen now.”

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.