Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Barack Obama
Spring is here, and the US Senate, appropriately enough, is preparing to vote on a resolution for the “Green New Deal.” But what exactly would it do?
A lot. The Green New Deal proposes sweeping changes to America’s energy, transportation, agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The purported objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activity by 40 per cent to 60 per cent (from 2010 levels) by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050. But it lacks specific details as to how to accomplish that goal.
No matter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to see where the upper chamber stands on the issue. Although the vote he has called for is procedural and the resolution is nonbinding, it’s an important litmus test for each senator’s position on the Green New Deal.
On the surface, the Green New Deal may sound appealing. However, the economic pain it would inflict and the power it would concentrate in Washington are anything but appealing. Do you want the federal government to control what kind of car you drive and what type of energy you buy? Because the end goal of the Green New Deal is to eliminate the use of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and the internal-combustion engine.
These energy sources provide 83 per cent of America’s electricity and 92 per cent of the transportation fuel market. So the costs of a green transformation would be astronomical. And pricier electricity and gas adversely affects low-income households disproportionately because they spend a higher percentage of their budget on energy.
The costs would extend well beyond the higher prices families will inevitably pay when driving their kids to soccer practice and air conditioning their homes in the summer. Higher prices squeeze both the production and consumption sides of the economy. As a result, businesses will pass costs onto consumers, shed jobs and invest less.
Think of all of those union jobs lost in mining, refining, pipe-fitting and welding. The AFL-CIO, which represents 55 different unions and 12.5 million workers, sure is. They recently sent a letter to the champions of the resolution, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey warning that: “We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and let threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standards of living go unanswered.”
Let’s not forget President Barack Obama’s warning about the costs of his cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over a decade ago. To meet the carbon-dioxide reduction targets, he said, electricity rates would “necessarily skyrocket.” According to one FAQ sheet on the proposal, cap-and-trade “may be a tiny part of the larger Green New Deal plan to mobilize our economy.” To fulfil the obligations of the Green New Deal, the economy would necessarily have to tank.
The reality is the Green New Deal is less about controlling the climate and more about the federal government controlling major aspects of economic production and decisions in your life.
Using a model developed primarily with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, climatologists estimate that eliminating all of America’s CO2 emissions mitigates global temperatures a mere 0.11 degree Celsius by the year 2100. With the overwhelming majority of emissions coming from the developing world who see energy poverty as more pressing threat, U.S. action is meaningless.
In other words, the expensive energy, lost jobs, expansion of government power and opened flood gates of corporate welfare and cronyism would all be for a change in the earth’s temperature that’s barely measurable. Sound like a good deal to you?
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If someone asked you to describe the Green New Deal, what would you say? According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, it’s a “bold idea” that would “create millions of good-paying jobs” and help “rebuild communities in rural America that have been devastated.” Oh, you thought the Green New Deal was all about fighting climate change? Well, think again.
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