Congress, Pelosi speak on climate change

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, speaks at a news conference June 26 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a plan to address climate change that would set a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while pushing renewable energy such as wind and solar power and addressing environmental contamination that disproportionately harms low-income and minority communities.

The election-year plan backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders is less ambitious than a sweeping Green New Deal that a group of progressive Democrats outlined last year to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

The Green New Deal, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., calls for dramatic steps to virtually eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 with a goal of meeting “100% of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear power.

The new plan, put forth Tuesday in a 538-page report, offers similar goals but at a slower pace. It sets a range of targets, including a 45% reduction by 2030 of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming.

The plan also would require that by 2035 new cars emit no greenhouse gases, while heavy-duty trucks would eliminate those emissions by 2040. The plan would eliminate overall emissions from the power sector by 2040 and all but eliminate greenhouse emissions from all economic sectors by 2050.

Supporters say the plan, presented by Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, by 2050 would save more than 60,000 American lives every year thanks to reduced air pollution, as well as nearly $8 trillion thanks to health and climate benefits.

GOP lawmakers immediately slammed the plan as a job-killer. The Democratic plan “punishes the American economy” and “gives a free pass to China” to pollute, said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.