Mike Pompeo attacked Democrats’ environmental plans during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, blasting the Paris Climate Accords and warning that a Green New Deal could harm the military.
“When I hear Democrats say they want a strong America, I know that they are working to undermine it,” the former secretary of state told the crowd in Orlando. “They’re going to cut the defense budget that we worked so hard to build. They’ll do it to pay for their Green New Deal. Kind of makes me mad, right? They’re going to trade army green for AOC green. That is a bad, bad trade.”
This is not entirely accurate. The Green New Deal is a less a single defined plan than a set of related proposals from a variety of progressives and environmentalists who want large-scale efforts to re-shape the country to better prepare it for climate change.
There’s the well-known Green New Deal resolution in Congress from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, senator Ed Markey, and others, which calls for a “10-year national mobilisation” on the scale of WWII and New Deal programs to make America more sustainable.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who introduced his own version of the New Deal, has suggested some military cuts, but those would come from the military itself relying on oil less, and spending less to protect oil shipping lanes.
Finally, there’s Joe Biden’s proposed climate agenda, smaller in scale than the Green New Deal, which would actually direct more resources to the military in an effort to “invest in the the climate resilience of our military bases and critical security infrastructure across the U.S. and around the world,” according to the text of his campaign proposal, which notes that extreme weather events caused $8 billion in damages to defence installations in 2019 alone. The president has also called for higher taxes to pay for the plan.
Despite its frequent invocation in partisan contexts, the military’s priorities usually don’t map neatly onto the agendas of the two parties. The defence establishment is deeply preoccupied with climate change, which threatens its globe-spanning infrastructure and exacerbates conditions that lead to instability. The military has officially considered climate change a national security threat since 2010.
During his address at the annual conservative gather, Mr Pompeo, a rumoured 2024 presidential candidate, said he was “going to let it rip,” and dismissed other environmental causes, too.
At one point, he called former secretary of state John Kerry, now the Biden administration’s climate envoy, a “green geek” and said he doubted fossil fuel workers would switch over to green jobs.
“He thinks these folks are all going to go make solar panels. I’ll tell you what, you ask the good people of midland Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, or South Dakota, Pennsylvania,” he said. “You think petroleum engineers and rig hands are going to go out and make solar panels?”
Elsewhere, the former top diplomat called the Paris Climate Accords, which the US left in 2017, “a fantasy for elite diplomats” and said the Trump administration hadn’t been willing to compromise jobs for the sake of the environment.
“We didn’t protect the environment on the backs of American workers,” he said.