Utah’s Rob Bishop says Democrats’ Green New Deal ‘tantamount to genocide’

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Rep. Rob Bishop, of Utah's 1st Congressional District, delivers his re-election speech at the Utah Republican Nominating Convention Saturday, April 21, 2018, at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. In provocative remarks to reporters Thursday he said implementing the Green New Deal proposed by some liberals in Congress would be "tantamount to genocide." He later said he was joking, but insisted the plan would be disastrous.

Washington • Rep. Rob Bishop claimed Thursday that a proposed Democratic measure to tackle climate change was “tantamount to genocide” for rural and Western communities.

The Utah Republican told reporters during a news conference that the Green New Deal, an ambitious package of ideas from some liberal members of Congress, would decimate rural areas and is too extreme.

“For many people who live in the West, but also in rural and urban areas, the ideas behind the Green New Deal are tantamount to genocide,” Bishop said.

Asked about his likening of a proposal to fix climate change to genocide, Bishop said the plan would kill him.

"I’m an ethnic. I’m a Westerner,” he said, according to E&E News. “Killing would be positive if you implement everything the Green New Deal actually wants to.”

Republicans have made the proposed climate change solution a boogeyman heading into the 2020 elections, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans a vote soon on the package to force Democrats to support or oppose it on the record.

Bishop, who has said that the Democratic plan would be the end of hamburgers, said he knew his comment was “maybe an overstatement, but not by a lot.”

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., offers essentially a wish list of actions to cut down on carbon emissions as well as an expansion of the social safety net for those in need.

The proposals include guaranteeing a job at a living wage, with paid family and medical leave, vacation time and retirement security, health care for all, access to higher education, and repairing or replacing aging roads, bridges and sewer systems. It also calls for making all energy consumed in the United States emission free, adding new energy-efficient buildings and eliminating manufacturing that causes pollution.

Democrats, including several who have announced intentions to run for president, say such moves, even as disruptive as they could be, are necessary after decades of inaction and new, dire warnings that climate change poses a real threat to the planet.

Bishop, later Thursday, clarified that he was joking in his remarks but reiterated that the Democratic plan would be disastrous.

“My comments were obviously not meant literally, and should not detract from the fact that the so-called Green New Deal is born of attitudes that show no respect for the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Bishop said in a statement. “The naïve demands of a narrow faction on the left must be shown for what they are.”

Bishop says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should conduct a thorough analysis of the Green New Deal.

“With American safety and prosperity on the line, it’s the very least the speaker can do,” Bishop said.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was traveling and couldn't be reached for comment.

But Grijalva told E&E News that he was surprised by Bishop's comment, adding that the House has voted to condemn hate speech.

“My friend Mr. Bishop is usually a little more circumspect than that and usually doesn’t make those kinds of declarations,” the Arizona Democrat told the news outlet. “So what does that tell me? There’s a little bit of desperation in the tone.”

The United Nations definition of genocide is the intent to destroy — in whole or in part — a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing them, causing physical or mental harm and imposing life-altering conditions, among other actions.