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by Brandon Jarvis

Two House Democrats running in tight reelection races expressed their support for a moratorium on fossil fuel use during a forum last week. Republicans are calling it irresponsible and disastrous. 

“I support the Green New Deal because it is the only plan that calls for a complete moratorium on the burning of fossil fuels,” said Del. Elizabeth Guzman D-HD31 during the virtual forum to support the Green New Deal. “We need to stop burning oil and fracking for natural gas altogether.”

The Green New Deal is a set of policy proposals with the goal of bringing the world to net-zero emissions.

Guzman was first elected in 2017 by nine points and is one of the more progressive members of the House Democratic caucus. In 2019, her victory margin shrunk to five points. She is facing a challenge from Ben Baldwin this cycle.

Guzman did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

In addition to Guzman, Del. Josh Cole D-HD28, also facing a tough challenge this year, expressed his support for a moratorium on fossil fuel use. “A moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure boosts renewable energy,” Cole said during the forum. “The climate crisis requires a decrease, not an increase in fossil fuel use.”

Cole was one of the sponsors of the unsuccessful legislation for the Green New deal during the 2020 legislative session.

“We are pushing for movement towards clean energy,” Cole said in an interview with Virginia Scope. “While I do want to see the legislation actually introduced and passed, we really want a conversation to get started about how we are going to move to clean energy and a 100% carbon-free emission society. That is one of the reasons I am pushing that legislation.”

Republicans have not been supportive of these proposals.

“The moratorium backed by Delegates Cole and Guzman would be laughable if they weren’t so serious about it,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus. “Regardless of what one thinks of carbon emissions, our day-to-day lives depend on gasoline, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. To suggest banning their use without a ready substitute isn’t just irresponsible. It’s dangerous.”

All Republicans on the House Labor and Commerce Committee voted against the Green New Deal legislation when it was introduced in 2020. The committee’s Democrats voted to refer it to House Appropriations where it died.

“We know how to phase things out so we can take a look at the legislation,” Cole said. I am not saying this is going to be an outright ban, but we can start doing some things to phase it.

“As we are fighting to protect the environment, the Republicans don’t care about the environment. So they are going to say this is dangerous and cost billions of dollars,” Cole said. They have been using scare tactics to scare their people for so long.” 

“One way or another we are going to end up having to pay for it,” Cole continued. “Start today incrementally now, or don’t do anything about it, and then we all suffer.” 

 After losing by less than half a point in 2017, Cole won in 2019 by four points. Now in his first reelection bid, he is being challenged by Tara Durant. 

Election day is Nov. 2. 

Virginia Scope is an independent news publication that is funded largely by donations and subscribers. As local newsrooms are losing writers each day, we are trying to fill the void to ensure that the public is informed and that leaders are held accountable for their actions. Please consider becoming a paid subscriber to our newsletter or making a donation through Paypal below so we can continue to work in Virginia. 

By vascope

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