A New Manhattan Project proposed after Green New Deal failed Senate vote
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After a failed attempt to advance the Green New Deal sponsored by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a 57-0 vote on Tuesday, the new Manhattan Project for clean energy was proposed from Republican Senator Lamar Alexander as an alternative to the United States role in climate change.
The momentum garnered from the Green New Deal’s catapult into the spotlight has caused the conversation on climate change to instigate a plan from both parties in Congress.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “during the last month this chamber had been the forum for debate of a topic I never thought I would see Republicans raise on their own: climate change.”
The criticism faced came from Republican Senator Mike Lee who called climate change an “elitist issue” on the floor on Tuesday the 26th. With the majority of members of the Democratic party voting “present” and most Republicans voting against the Green New Deal, there is a growing acknowledgement of a need for a bipartisan solution.
In response to the senate vote, Ocasio-Cortez argued that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “rushed the Green New Deal to the floor without a hearing.” However, several members of the GOP, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), have spoken out about the resolution as being the beginning to a bipartisan solution on climate change. In an interview with National Public Radio, Alexander asserted “it’s the start of a conversation but headed in the wrong direction” and it “provides a chance for Republicans like me or Democrats to take some of the things that we do agree with and focus on them.”
The Green New Deal addresses a growing concern for climate change and human activity as the dominant cause, calling for goals including achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission, while promoting economic security through investments in projects that would enable access for a sustainable environment for all. Projects such as building smart power grids, upgrading buildings to become energy-efficient, and clean and affordable public transit were outlined among the 10 year plan.
Alexander proposed the need for investments into research and adequate leadership for these projects. The new Manhattan Project for clean energy addresses a similar plan as outlined in the Green New Deal, but reduces the amount of time in half--to 5 years. Alexander’s response emphasized 10 grand challenges that would need to occur during this time. In an speech and floor statement, Alexander said, “meeting these Grand Challenges would create breakthroughs in advanced nuclear reactors, natural gas, carbon capture, better batteries, greener buildings, electric vehicles, cheaper solar and fusion.”
Criticizing components of the Democrats’ Green New Deal as being “so far out in left field that not many are going to take it seriously,” he issued this plan that offers a doubling of funding for energy research and a focus on reducing emissions in the rest of the world “where the carbon emissions problem has to be solved.”
Although the votes against the resolution came largely from members of the GOP, Alexander has said “Republicans need to respond to climate change.”
In a response to the comments after the Senate vote, Ocasio-Cortez defended the issues outlined in the Green New Deal, saying, “this is not an elitist issue, this is a quality of life issue.”