The US needs to create a Green New Deal.

The steps to make a Green New Deal happen have been laid out for the new leadership of the new House pf Representatives that convenes January 3. The leadership is dragging its feet. WE need to insist they get moving.

 So I am writing with urgency to ask you to call Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and your own Congressmember and urge them to make sure a new Select Committee on the Green New Deal is appointed, with full power (including subpoena power) to investigate the needs, blockages, and pathways for a Green New Deal  and then to submit legislation to the whole House.

I am going to briefly review the background of this effort, and then give you the key information to act.

We need to urge the new leadership of the House, especially to take action as strong as the climate crisis is dangerous. Yet they are dragging their feet.

In the last two months, four events have opened up new energy for a struggle to heal our climate and our planet – and us!  --

  • Two careful, detailed, and sober reports on how dangerous the climate crisis has become to human health and prosperity – one by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one by experts across a dozen US governmental agencies – the National Climate Assessment;
  • Wildfires consuming huge areas of California, killing dozens of people, destroying thousands pf homes, blistering an entire city;
  • Election of a new wave of members of the House of Representatives who are passionate about climate and are gutsy, free of “conventional assumptions” about political “realism,” and ready to hear and join the prophetic insistence for change coming from the youth of Sunrise.

 Sunrise (founded by young people in April 2017 and already engaging thousands of active youth) has stepped forward with a new program that the conventional “environmental” organizations have not. It is called the Green New Deal, and what is exciting and important is that it breaks down the stupid wall between “social justice” and “healing Earth.”

 For several years, The Shalom Center has said these must no longer be seen as separate. We set as our goal “eco-social justice.”  The Green New Deal proposal demands action to transform our economy – creating well-paid jobs for all, jobs that heal the Earth instead of burning or poisoning her, with levels of investment that will meet the need. Hundreds of billions of dollars.

So I am sad to report that as I write on Saturday evening, the Democratic leadership of the new House – including Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi –have so far been unwilling to take the first step Sunrise was and is demanding:

That is to create a Select Committee of the House with a mandate to develop a Plan to carry out the Green New Deal and then to bring bills to the floor of the House that would make the Green New Deal happen. The Sunrise proposal would also bar from the Select Committee any Congressmember who has taken campaign money from the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs.

So far, the House leadership has endorsed only a much weaker climate committee without subpoena or bill-submitting power that would address only climate, but not the technological, job investment, or economic  that might well include as members Congressmen  who have received many dollars of donations from Big Oil,  Big Coal, and Big Unnatural Gas.

  1. We have a week to change Speaker-elect Pelosi’s mind.  First, please read the Green New Deal proposal at

2. Then please call your own Congressmember. Call 1202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative, and ask her or him to urge Speaker-elect Pelosi to set up and empower a Select Committee for a Green New Deal.  

 3. Then please call Ms. Pelosi herself at (1202) 225-0100

Office of the Democratic Leader
H-204, US Capitol, Washington, DC 20515
and urge her to create the new Select Committee. Mention its full powers (subpoena and legislative) and its membership (No recipients of Carbon Pharaoh money).

Finally, AFTER you have taken these active steps, click to this article on our Website and read the part on the “jump” page, after the line that says, “Read more.”

 Varshini Prakash, one of the founders of Sunrise, wrote:  

 We have two major initiatives in the works, a Green New Deal campaign, and a potential “People’s Committee on a Green New Deal.” We want to share a bit more thinking on the latter:

 The People's Committee on a Green New Deal. Again, it appears that Dem leadership is not likely to create the Select Committee on a Green New Deal that we’ve been calling for. Faced with an existential crisis, they refuse to even make a plan to make a plan. Sunrise wlll keep fighting until the vote is cast, but as of now we're not counting on them to do the right thing.

Meanwhile, we've heard tons of valuable policy suggestions from organizations, scholars, and dedicated individuals like you all who want to make sure that the Green New Deal is comprehensive, just, and leaves nobody behind. 

To ensure that the actual Green New Deal plan meets the demands of science and justice, we are seriously exploring bringing together a "People's Committee on a Green New Deal.” When our government refuses to, we the people must lead.

The vision for the People's Committee is a collaborative policy-development process that discusses everything from how the Green New Deal can support coastal communities threatened by rising seas, to how it must and should respect indigenous sovereignty, to providing a just transition for pipefitters and coal miners, to how the job guarantee can strengthen the labor movement and combat racial inequality, to how to support energy democracy and community wealth, to how to weaken the political power of the fossil fuel industry, and everything in-between.

The objective of the People's Committee would be to produce an actual policy agenda by the end of 2019, and build trust among participating groups throughout the process by following the Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing. The process must respect the expertise of people's lived experience, as well as technical expertise. It must make time to hear from hundreds if not thousands of local and regional groups from across the country, while also moving deliberately towards concrete proposals that improve people's lives. In short, if properly resourced, this would be the grassroots-guided federal-policy-development process that many have dreamed of, but few have actually seen in practice.

We've been talking to people with experience designing and executing massive collaborative processes of this nature to work out how the details could look. Please also reach out if this is you. We'll share more information as it becomes available. 

In the meantime, we'll just admit that yes, this is wildly ambitious, and yes, there are a thousand reasons why it might not work. This isn't the Beltway's preferred mode of policy design. But then again, only one and a half years ago, Sunrise was just eight kids sitting on the floor in a living room. We've built our movement by staying scrappy and doing the opposite of conventional political wisdom. We started Sunrise explicitly because we saw that the way that things had been going for the climate movement weren’t working. We're going to keep all that up. 

If we are serious about stopping runaway climate change, providing a good job to everyone who wants one, and ending environmental racism, the People's Committee just might be the kind of process that makes it possible. Previous federal climate policy efforts have failed because they were elite-driven and top-down. If the Green New Deal succeeds, it will be because all of us fought together for something that was genuinely transformative and bottom-up.

Again, what can you do to help right now?

Have your organization sign-on to support the Select Committee by filling out this short form (also will ensure you're in the loop for what comes next!).

Thank you all, let’s keep the conversation going!

Happy holidays,