Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) swung back at President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday over a border wall by announcing plans to introduce a similar resolution for a crisis that scientists around the world warn we are running out of time to address ― climate change.
“If Trump can call a national emergency for a fake crisis at the border, then surely Congress should call a national emergency for a REAL crisis,” Blumenauer said in a statement.
During a press conference on Friday, Trump admitted that the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border did not warrant such a declaration. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” he said.
In a related letter to congressional colleagues, Blumenauer called Trump’s decision “profoundly disturbing” and urged them to join him in co-sponsoring his emergency resolution on climate change.
“What our country should be doing right now is focusing on addressing a real national emergency and one of the most pressing issues of our time: the climate crisis,” Blumenauer wrote. “If Donald Trump wants to start declaring national emergencies for fake crises, Congress should address the real ones, starting with climate change.”
With his controversial decision, Trump may have opened the door to a broader use of emergency declarations.
“We should do something about the actual emergencies that plague our nation — like climate change or health care access — not playing politics in order to build a wasteful border wall,” Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), one of several Democratic presidential candidates, tweeted on Friday.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called on America’s next president to take that kind of step.
And Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) warned that Trump’s use of emergency powers could lead to a Democratic president declaring an emergency to combat gun violence and then instituting universal background checks and banning assault weapons.
In a January post on the Legal Planet blog, Dan Farber, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, explored a number of ways that future presidents could use emergency powers to fight climate change. Doing so, Farber wrote, “would be far more legitimate than Trump’s wall effort,” given the scientific community’s warnings and the fact that the Pentagon has recognized that climate change is a national security threat.
Late last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and scientists from more than a dozen federal agencies in the U.S. issued separate reports concluding that averting climate catastrophe would require immediate, sweeping cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the Trump administration has downplayed the threat.
“I don’t believe it,” Trump said of his own administration’s report, adding that “we’re the cleanest we’ve ever been.”
Blumenauer is one of dozens of co-sponsors of the Green New Deal, a nonbinding climate resolution introduced last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The measure outlines the lofty goals of slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 60 percent by 2030, building climate-resilient infrastructure, and reversing income inequality by creating high-wage green jobs. Republicans were quick to dismiss it as an “impossible” and “pie-in-the-sky” proposal, and Trump said it “sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark.”
“The climate crisis is impacting our world as we know it,” Blumenauer said Friday. “Every day, our temperatures are rising and our sea levels are following suit, threatening more intense storms and natural disasters. Saving the planet is our most pressing issue that must be addressed with urgent action, not a manufactured ‘crisis’ at the border.”