In A Town Hall, Rep. Delgado Explains How He's Addressing Climate Change | WAMC

In A Town Hall, Rep. Delgado Explains How He's Addressing Climate Change

Oct 2, 2019

New York Congressman Antonio Delgado has his own ideas for addressing climate change. He does not support wide-ranging Green New Deal legislation introduced in February by fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And that had a few who attended his town hall Tuesday night in Dutchess County wondering why.

The resolution calls for the creation of a Green New Deal with goals of achieving a number of objectives, including achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; investing in infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, and promoting justice and equality. The resolution also calls for reaching the goals through a 10-year national mobilization effort. Delgado summed up the answers he’d given during his town hall in Clinton.

“It’s an important issue, climate change, the crisis. It’s urgent. We have to confront it. I’m proud of introducing the Green Jobs Opportunities Act, which is a targeted way in which we can invest in jobs from the ground up, commissioning a study to find out what those jobs are that we need to fill by 2050 to get to net-zero carbon emissions and then putting dollars there in our community colleges, in our high schools, even middle schools, developing a curriculum to fill these positions for the future economy. And so that’s my focus,” Delgado says. “I think there’s a lot of people who have found their lane in this space. I think I have a lane in this space that I feel very comfortable in and I want to stay in that lane.”

Several environmental group earlier this year called on Delgado to support a Green New Deal, and the call by many continues. Delgado has said he wants to think about how to address climate change and find a way to help his 11-county 19th District. He says his Green Jobs bill, also put forth in February, does just this.

“My point was, I would rather be able to define my voice in this space which can be very divisive, overly politicized and demagogued in unhelpful ways. And I prefer to be able to have a space that I can own on my own terms that we worked out in my office legislatively that I can champion that is a part of the larger fight,” says Delgado. “I feel a lot more comfortable, particularly in these very divided times, figuring out how I can have my own voice, and I can answer based on what we’re doing, as opposed to what other folks are doing.”

Considering President Trump has assailed climate change and the science behind it, Delgado has acknowledged a Green New Deal will face challenges. Citing the president’s stance on climate change, a young man at the town hall asked Delgado if he would go on the House floor and declare a climate emergency. The audience “oohed;” and Delgado said he would not say yes on the spot.

“I just didn’t know exactly… I wanted to be clear about what he was asking for, what it might mean, what the extent of it was, what the protocol was. I didn’t, I mean, I’m speaking from a place where I didn’t know all the facts and I didn’t want to just, in that moment say, yeah I’ll do that, and look back and say, wait, maybe I won’t,” says Delgado. “So it’s important to own the moment and be honest and say, I can’t give you an answer on that right now. I will definitely look into it. Hopefully my team got his information and we will follow up with an answer.”

Hudson Valley Democratic Representatives Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey and Sean Patrick Maloney all co-sponsor the Green New Deal measure.