Coalition urges more anti-fossil fuel programs in next stimulus package

While Democrats in Congress now push for a possible fourth coronavirus stimulus bill, a coalition of scientists including a University of Oklahoma weather researcher wants the effort to include more environmental efforts. It is also clear they are against the fossil fuel industry.

Zeke Baker, identified as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies was one of those who signed the letter sent last month to Congress suggesting there be “shovel ready jobs” for the environment as part of the relief.

He was among the coalition of scientists, academics and advocates from the environment, justice and labor movements who sent the letter with their own “menu of solutions.” They wanted the stimulus to not only be a win for the economy but also the environment.

“As a nation we face three converging crises: the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; the climate emergency; and extreme inequality,” started the letter.

“We need immediate and sustained intervention to protect people’s health and economic well-being, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. We must also begin planning our economic recovery in a way that protects us from the impact of climate change and lifts up workers and frontline communities.”

Baker and the others who signed the letter went on to write that the question isn’t whether the country will next need a major economic recovery stimulus but what kind of stimulus. Their idea they called the Green Stimulus.

“The United States confronts the danger of an economic stimulus that restores — or even deepens — our reliance on fossil fuels. This danger comes from explicit proposals to bail out the fossil fuel sector and roll back workers’ rights, and also from generic general stimulus policies that do not take climate into account. Indeed, infrastructure spending as usual — e.g. highway expansion — will lock in more carbon pollution for decades. We can avoid these problems by crafting a recovery that accelerates the creation of a 21st century green economy.”

Baker was joined by others in the region and not all were science researchers. Richard Bowden calls himself a “professional touring and recording musician from Austin, Texas.” Devin Garafalo is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Texas.

They encouraged congress to create “millions of new family-sustaining, career-track green jobs in clean energy expansion—sustainable homebuilding—green infrastructure construction—and programs to bring more low-income and workers of color into good union jobs.”

Their plan calls for a Green Stimulus that “accelerates a just transition off fossil fuels—to make–society and economy stronger and more resilient in the face of pandemic, recession and climate emergency in the years ahead.”

Click here to read entire Green Stimulus letter.