Political News

Acting EPA chief: Green New Deal 'not really ready for prime time'

Posted February 13, 2019 8:33 p.m. EST

— Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler jabbed the Democrats' Green New Deal rollout as "not really ready for prime time" in an interview that aired Wednesday.

Wheeler told ABC that he had concerns about the plan, which is a sweeping climate change and economic overhaul proposal that was introduced last week by freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

"I am concerned that they don't really seem to value a stable electricity source, grid reliability," Wheeler said.

"For human health and the environment here at the agency I have to be very concerned about that, because it's the electricity system that supplies our drinking water system and it runs it," Wheeler said.

"We need to make sure that we have a reliable, safe electricity supply for, for public health," Wheeler said, adding, "It's not really addressed in their Green Deal."

President Donald Trump has criticized the climate change push by progressive Democrats -- lumping it in with a host of other progressive priorities as "socialism" at a rally on Monday night. The deal is also exposing divisions among Democrats who are running for president in 2020, as climate change is shaping up to be a central issue heading into the Democratic primary and general election next year.

The progressive proposal comes months after a US government report delivered a devastating assessment of climate change and said thousands of people could die and the US economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century. The report appeared to be downplayed by the Trump administration, which timed its release for a holiday weekend.

Just days after the dire report was released, the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era coal emissions rule, loosening restrictions on the industry.

During his confirmation hearing in January, Wheeler said he considers climate change an "eight or nine" on a one-to-10 scale of concern but said it is not the greatest crisis.

Wheeler told ABC, "We're moving forward. We are addressing climate change." He said he has read the climate report, but that some of its conclusions were "based on the worst-case scenario."

"What's important on what we're doing on CO2 and climate change is we're following the laws that Congress has passed," Wheeler said.