Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address, New York Congressman Antonio Delgado of the 19th district has some ideas about how to add to the conversation about addressing climate change. He plans to put forth legislation concerning green jobs in the name of lowering carbon emissions and increasing investment in renewable energy sources.
The freshman Democrat says climate change is an existential crisis, and in thinking about how to both address it and help his 11-county district, he homed in on an area within.
“It became clear to me that we need to elevate the conversation around green jobs, specifically,” Delgado says. “And we need then to make a concerted effort in focusing on how we can provide a clear path to a green economy, particularly for those workers who’ve made a living in the fossil fuel industry.”
Delgado voted in favor of creating a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The committee is now taking shape and is considered a key component of the Green New Deal’s plan for reorganizing climate efforts in Congress.
“And I think the work that’s going to be done within the Select Committee is going to be paramount as we move forward. And I hope that the work that we’re doing in this specific lane can be a part of that overall conversation,” Delgado says. “And I, to that end, plan to introduce legislation requiring the Department of Energy to conduct a study identifying what green jobs are currently in demand and then establish a pilot program that awards grants to community colleges and small businesses to provide job training in accordance with the study’s findings.”
The Democrat says it has been more than a decade since any government agency authored a study of this nature. Delgado says he does not know how this would be paid for just yet.
“I think a part of understanding the scale of the program, by virtue of what the study finds, will certainly inform that,” says Delgado. “I think that anything that pertains to grant work will have to be paid out of the federal government and have to be paid likely through an agency responsible for it.”
Considering President Trump has assailed climate change and the science behind it, Delgado acknowledges a Green New Deal will face its challenges.
“And so that’s something that I’m completely aware of, but I think it’s also why focusing on an area like jobs like the impact on the workforce within the fossil fuel industry is all the more important,” says Delgado.
Santosh Nandabalan is an organizer with Food & Water Watch. He commends Delgado’s move torward focusing on green jobs.
“At this point, though, if he’s serious about this jobs program, he needs to come out and take a stand and be like, we’re going to stop the fossil fuel infrastructure that supports fossil fuel jobs; we’re going to build out to 100 percent renewables and support the clean energy jobs,” Nandabalan says.
Food & Water Watch is among a group of environmentalists and residents gathering at the offices of congressional representatives nationwide, calling on them to publicly support a Green New Deal that stops all new fossil fuel projects; transitions electricity generation to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035; and ensures a just transition to a clean, renewable energy economy.
As for the State of the Union address, Delgado, a founding member of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, is highlighting environmental issues by bringing Hoosick Falls resident Michael Hickey.
“The individual who pretty much brought to light, sadly because of the loss of his father, the PFAS contamination issues,” Delgado says. “So I’ve asked him to join me for the State of the Union. I want to get him in front of some of the folks on the caucus to make sure that we can deal with this issue in a meaningful way.”
Hickey discovered elevated levels of PFOA chemicals in his community’s water supply, bringing to light the water contamination crisis.