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Climate coalition urges Rep. Frank Pallone to support Green New Deal

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said his plan will eliminate fossil fuels by 2050.  – Photo by Benjamin Chelnitsky

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) received scrutiny on Friday from hundreds of climate activists, from issues ranging from his campaign finance donations to his lack of support on the Green New Deal.

Outside his office, protesters chanted “Green New Deal” and “2030” for minutes at a time, with 2030 being the date that activists want to be either carbon neutral or halfway there.

The protestors mobilized a group of young children holding placards and signs to stand together, with adults yelling to the office building that this was the generation impacted most by the climate crisis.

In a statement provided by Pallone, who is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, he said his goal was to decarbonize the entire economy and have zero net greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050. The statement also read that his plan follows the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“I stand with these activists, and could not agree more that climate change is a crisis that demands our immediate action. I’ve heard their calls to unite behind the science and let the science dictate how we proceed. They’re right. That’s why in July, I announced a plan to develop bold, comprehensive legislation to decarbonize our entire economy and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050. It’s likely we can decarbonize certain sectors, like power, even faster — a goal we share. But the global scientific consensus makes clear that all — our entire country — must be carbon neutral by 2050,” Pallone said.

Still, the statement did not mention the Green New Deal, much to the disappointment of the protestors.

“What we demand, Frank Pallone, right now right out of his office, is that he holds a hearing on the climate and the Green New Deal, he endorses the Green New Deal, because right now he takes money from oil executives and coal executives to fund his campaigns while at the same time claiming that he is one of the cleanest Democrats and the greenest Democrats in Congress currently,” said Ahan Sikri, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and organizer for the Central Jersey Climate Coalition (CJCC). 

Another point of contention among the protestors was Pallone’s acceptance of money from gas and oil corporations. Pallone received $33,400 from oil and gas industries in the 2017-2018 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

“In the last election cycle you took tens of thousands of dollars from industries that are killing us all,” said James Boyle, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, inside of Pallone’s office reading an open letter to the Congressman. “If you truly support a sustainable future, it’s time to stop letting the fossil fuel industry set the legislative agenda and start focusing on communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, including people here in the sixth district.”

Outside, people booed and chanted “shame” for more than a minute when Pallone’s fossil fuel gifts were mentioned.

Despite the large turnout on Friday, Boyle promised Pallone that the community would keep applying pressure until its demands were met.

“Listen to us while we're talking to you,” Boyle said in his letter. “The choice is yours, but know this: everything is at stake and the grassroots pressure that this coalition represents will only continue to grow and escalate if we don't see a meaningful change from you and your committee. Our house is on fire and it's time to act like it.”

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