The New Year is off to a rollicking start with a partial government shutdown in Washington affecting 800,000 federal workers, riots all across France, the continuing disintegration of Venezuela, and – for good measure — calls for a Green New Deal by hundreds of environmental and other left-wing groups, as well as by Democrats in Congress.
While the dispute over the security of the U.S. border with Mexico, the outrage over a proposed (and since withdrawn) tax increase on transportation fuel in France, and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy are all about matters in the here and now, the Green New Deal postulates a glorious vision of the future.
And what a future it is!
In the name of combating climate change (formerly known as global warming), the Green New Deal seeks nothing less than the complete decarbonization of the U.S. economy and the transition to 100% renewable energy – all to be accomplished with a couple of decades. No fewer than 626 organizations signed a Jan. 10 letter to Congress demanding that Members act “aggressively and quickly” to avert the pending climate disaster. At a minimum, these steps should include:
- Ending all leasing of fossil fuel extraction on federal land; ceasing the permitting of all fossil-fuel power plants; banning the export of American coal, oil, and natural gas – all “in pursuit of a managed decline of fossil fuel production;”
- Excluding fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass energy, large-scale hydro power, and waste to energy combustion from America’s energy future in order to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2035 or sooner;
- Striving for 100% decarbonization by phasing out the sale of automobiles and trucks with internal combustion engines; promoting “investment’ in renewable energy-powered public transportation; and expanding government subsidies for electric vehicles;
- Harnessing the “full power of the Clean Air Act” to ensure that climate targets are met, including implementing reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks, aircraft, ships, smokestacks, and other sources;
- Ensuring a “just transition” by prioritizing “support for communities who (sic) historically have been harmed first and most by the dirty energy economy and workers in the energy sector and related industries;” building new transportation, energy, waste, and housing infrastructure designed to serve “climate resilience and other human needs;” retrofitting millions of buildings to conserve energy and other resources; and “actively restoring ecosystems to protect communities from climate change;” and
- Upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by recognizing their right to give or withhold “free, prior, and informed consent” to legislation of other developments affecting their lands, territories, natural and cultural resources.
How much all of this will cost, and how that enormous sum – whatever it is – is to be raised, is left unsaid. Newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently suggested in a TV interview that one way to finance the Green New Deal would be to raise the marginal tax rate for people making $10 million a year or more to 70%. But her proposal received a cool reception from many of her Democratic colleagues, who are concerned that their high-end donors from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street wouldn’t relish forking over that much money to the IRS, even if it would save the planet.
While steering clear of Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% marginal tax rate, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) embraces the Green New Deal and would pay for it with a carbon tax – a levy on oil, natural gas, and coal. If anything, a carbon tax is an even bigger folly.
”A carbon tax is a tax on existence, because all aspects of living require energy, and hydrocarbons provide 80% of America’s energy, more for the rest of the world,” Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal. As for replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, Mills points out that wind and solar power currently account for a mere 3% of U.S. energy – and this after decades of federal subsidies and state laws manding the use of renewable energy.
If all it took to stir up the “yellow vests” in France was a rise in the diesel tax, just think of the outrage in the U.S. when, to finance the Green New Deal, a carbon tax is imposed on, as Mills puts it, our very “existence.“
Even the appeal to indigenous peoples ignores the fact that some tribes in the U.S. have oil, gas, and coal on their lands, and that the Green New Deal would deliver a crippling blow to those tribes’ efforts to escape poverty by taking advantage of their natural resources.
A government-mandated transition to 100% renewable energy would completely destroy the U.S. industrial base and cause lights to go out in millions of households across the country. The Green New Deal is folly on an epic scale.