Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied an audience of supporters in Washington Thursday evening with calls to implement single-payer health care and tuition-free college – along with an appeal to stop fossil fuel production entirely.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is running to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District, has made no secret of her opposition to fossil fuels. She’s called for politicians to forsake donations from the industry and is pushing a “Green New Deal” plan which entails a shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
But she cast her position in stark terms Thursday, during a fundraiser at a restaurant along D.C.’s hip 14th Street.
“There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels. There’s no debate. We should not,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Every single scientific consensus points to that.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report earlier this week declaring that civilization only has 12 years to save the planet from “climate catastrophe.” Preventative steps include reducing coal production and bringing global net emissions close to zero by 2030.
However, Ocasio-Cortez’ position departs from that of some Democrats who advocate what the Obama administration termed an “all of the above” energy policy – embracing oil and natural gas production, as well as the generation of renewables like wind and solar.
America’s natural gas production has surged in recent years, fueled in part by the fracking boom that has produced thousands of jobs and billions in revenue. While Democrats largely remain skeptical of the Trump administration’s efforts to revive the struggling coal industry, some – especially in states like North Dakota that stand to benefit economically – have encouraged the energy economy to embrace the natural gas boom.
But fracking remains controversial for its environmental side effects, and Ocasio-Cortez’ “Green New Deal” envisions turning the renewable energy investment into a jobs engine – in the spirit of FDR’s New Deal.
During the fundraiser, she touched on several other big government plans – including universal, government-backed health and “tuition-free public colleges.”
She railed against “dark money” in politics and mass incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses, an issue the Trump administration may be revisiting.
“The time is always right to fight for what is right. It will never be convenient, but it is what our duty is to our future generations,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez burst onto the national spotlight after beating Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley, a member of party leadership, in a primary upset. The Democratic socialist espouses a number of policies backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders like ‘Medicare for All’ – which President Trump this week attacked in an op-ed for USA Today.