Twenty-nine-year-old ex-bartender and freshman U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received thunderous environmentalist and media acclaim when she introduced her Green New Deal resolution in the House and Ed Markey submitted it in the Senate.
It was quickly endorsed or cosponsored by scores of other house and senate Democrats, including many who want to run against President Donald Trump in 2020.
But within days, the deal was subjected to rigorous analysis (and ridicule) by energy experts, Trump, Republicans, conservative pundits and even some Democrats. Their disdain is well-founded.
Asserting yet again that “manmade climate change” poses an “existential threat” to people and planet – with only a dozen years before total disaster strikes – the Green New Deal demands that the United States convert to 100 percent “renewable” energy within 10 years. It also proclaims an equally urgent need to abandon free enterprise capitalism in favour of 100 percent socialist economic and “social justice” policies.
In the energy arena, the deal requires that fossil fuels, nuclear power and even waste-to-energy and large-scale hydroelectric facilities be eliminated from the US energy mix. Coal, oil and natural gas leasing and development on federally controlled western lands would be banned, as would exports of those fuels.
Internal combustion cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats would be replaced with electric versions or eradicated. Airplanes would be replaced by high-speed rail. And every house and building in America would be gutted, rebuilt or retrofitted with “state of the art efficiency” technologies. That’s for starters.
The original draft resolution (since replaced on Ocasio-Cortez’s website) even called for getting rid of “farting cows” – to prevent methane from increasing above its current minuscule 0.0017 percent of the atmosphere. So bugs not beef in our diets – and no more cheese, milk, yogurt or ice cream.
In the social justice and fairness arena, the deal provides that every American would get government-guaranteed jobs, with “family-sustaining” wages and pensions; free college or trade school; “healthy organic” food; “safe, affordable, adequate” and energy-efficient homes; and support for ethnic and economic “communities” that “historically” were harmed “first and most” by “dirty energy.”
Saturday Night Live could not have crafted a better parody of energy, economic and scientific reality.
But Ocasio-Cortez is determined to have her deal brought up for a vote in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi worries about the spectacle that would ensue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is equally determined to have a vote. Markey is outraged; he claims Republicans just want to sow discord within the Democratic party, portray Democrats as favouring extremist policies and sabotage the plan.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Menendez threatened to call police on a reporter who was “harassing” him merely by asking for his views about the Green New Deal.
Ocasio-Cortez has no such qualms. When asked whether implementing her deal would require “massive government intervention,” she replied: “It does. Yeah. I have no problem saying that.” Moreover, she added, we shouldn’t point fingers and say China, India or Russia aren’t doing anything like this. We shouldn’t “hold ourselves to a lower bar.” We should “choose to lead” the world in this transition.
Lead the world in economic suicide, environmental degradation, plummeting living standards, shorter life spans and societal upheaval would be a more accurate description of her proposal.
But at least Democrats and environmentalists have now made clear what they’ll do to America’s energy, economy, jobs, transportation, infrastructure and society if they regain control of the House, Senate, White House, deep state and courts.
What they’re not doing, discussing or even thinking about is how they intend to achieve their energy-climate-socialist nirvana, how many trillions of dollars it would cost, how many millions of good jobs would be eliminated before their promised job-creation programs theoretically kick in and exactly how they plan to deal with the enormous human and environmental impacts.
Ocasio-Cortez says don’t worry about the price tag. Just tax the rich more and borrow trillions more. Whether the cost is $1 trillion per year or $40 trillion to $100 trillion in total, that’s an ignorant, cavalier response. Either way, she must provide the numbers, calculations and wherewithal – transparently and with full debate.
And on environmental matters, Ocasio-Cortez and her cosponsors have no clue what they are talking about.
America has over a century of coal, oil and natural gas that should be used. It has vast quantities of limestone, copper, iron, and rare earth and other strategic metals that would be essential for the wind turbines, solar panels, biofuel operations, massive backup battery arrays, and thousands of kilometres of new electricity transmission lines that the Green New Deal envisions. Is there a snowball’s chance in hell that they would open highly mineralized western and Alaskan lands for exploration and mining?
Their intransigence on those resources means giving up bonuses, rents, royalties, taxes and millions of high-paying jobs. Billions of dollars in revenues to government will be replaced by billions of dollars in subsidies from government. America won’t even be able to manufacture energy systems because it won’t have either the reliable, affordable fuels to operate factories nor the necessary raw materials.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world will continue to use fossil fuels, emit greenhouse gases, surge ahead economically – and sell us trillions of dollars of Green New Deal energy systems. Those that come from China might even have grid-hacker-friendly portals built right into their motherboards.
Shuttering nuclear and hydro power plants – and converting transportation and shipping systems from gasoline and diesel – would mean the U.S. will need twice as much electricity as it generates today. Closing waste-to-energy facilities would add to those demands – and to landfill requirements.
Contrary to claims by green deal advocates, electricity rates would likely skyrocket.
The deal will also kill people, by making it hard for poor families and pensioners to afford adequate heat in winter. And just imagine countless stranded electric cars, trucks and buses clogging highways, especially during snow storms, as their batteries go dead … and hundreds of people die of exposure.
Given all that, there should be no thunderous applause. And no Green New Deal.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of articles and books on energy, environmental and human rights issues. He is also a contributor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy think-tank.