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Environmental Group Slams O’Rourke for Diverging from Green New Deal

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during a kickoff rally in El Paso, Texas, March 30, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The progressive environmentalist group Sunrise Movement criticized Beto O’Rourke’s climate-change-policy proposal on Monday as insufficiently ambitious relative to the Green New Deal proposal that has captivated many of his fellow Democratic presidential contenders.

O’Rourke on Monday released an ambitious climate-change plan that requires $5 trillion in new government spending to transition the American economy to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The greatest threat we face — which will test our country, our democracy, every single one of us — is climate change. We have one last chance to unleash the ingenuity and political will of hundreds of millions of Americans to meet this moment before it’s too late,” O’Rourke said in a statement accompanying the proposal.

Hours after O’Rourke rolled out his plan, the Sunrise Movement issued a statement criticizing the former Texas lawmaker for diverging from the more ambitious timeline prescribed by the Green New Deal, and for refusing to swear off donations from the fossil-fuel industry.

“Unfortunately, Beto gets the science wrong and walks back his commitments from earlier this month in Iowa to move to net-zero emissions by 2030,” the statement reads. “Beto claims to support the Green New Deal, but his plan is out of line with the timeline it lays out and the scale of action that scientists say is necessary to take here in the United States to give our generation a livable future.”

O’Rourke, like the vast majority of his 2020 primary opponents, has endorsed Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution, which calls for a government-led restructuring of the energy sector in order to completely eliminate carbon emissions by 2030.

The Sunrise Movement, a self-described “army of young people,” has aggressively pressured lawmakers to line up behind Ocasio-Cortez’s climate vision, and has resorted to recruiting school children to confront lawmakers on Capitol Hill in service of that mission.

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