Pressure on D.C. Lawmakers to Support Climate Action

Activists from the Sunrise Movement and other environmental groups at the office of Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

Activists from the Sunrise Movement and other environmental groups at the office of Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

WARWICK, R.I. — The local grassroots push for progressive policies continued with a recent protest at the office of Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.

The Dec. 13 event was organized by the Sunrise Movement, an upstart youth-led activist group trying to end fossil-fuel money in politics and promote the Green New Deal.

The protesters, mostly Brown University students and members of Climate Action RI, delivered letters to a Langevin aide and gave testimonials of climate-change devastation in their hometowns, such as forest fires in California and sea-level rise in Miami.

“Climate change is terrifying. I am fearful of my future and our future,” Brown student Lauren Maunus said. “I’ve seen politicians be bought out by fossil-fuel executives and really not represent my generation. And for once I’m feeling really hopeful. So I’m here to continue that hope.”

“Climate scientists are continuously telling us that it is urgent that we act now to make unprecedented changes,” said Nicole DiPaolo of Climate Action RI. “And if we don’t start that now, we will not have hope. So I will fight until we start making a plan or until the representatives in Rhode Island and congressmen sign the Green New Deal.”

One of the protest’s organizers, Emma Bouton, is a Brown University student who was recently arrested during a Sunrise Movement sit-in in a congressional office building. Some 1,000 protesters flooded Congress in a plea for representatives to establish a special committee to advance the Green New Deal.

The select committee on a Green New Deal has been proposed by Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and is supported by 37 House Representatives and more than 150 organizations.

After protesting at his Pawtucket office on Nov. 20, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., agreed to support the Green New Deal. Langevin has yet to state his support. His office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Senators Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., haven’t committed to the Green New Deal nor have they pledged to stop accepting donations from fossil-fuel companies.

The Green New Deal has seven goals: 100 percent renewable power across the country; a nationwide “smart” electric grid; mandatory energy-efficiency upgrades to every residential and industrial building; the elimination of carbon emissions from the transportation sector, manufacturing, agricultural, and other industries; improvements to transportation and other infrastructure; a massive reduction in greenhouse gases; and establish “green” technology, industry and expertise in the United States and use that expertise to help other countries transition to carbon-neutral economies.