Massive increases in government spending, subsidies and further economic control with a blizzard of added regulations are the recipe for economic downturn. History shows this time and again. History also shows the opposite is true; restraining government spending growth and reducing regulations and taxes on the private sector spurs economic growth and job creation.

The “Green” agenda invariably comprises major new government mandates, subsidies and regulations that will harm the country’s economy and citizenry, whether one believes fully in human-caused climate change or not. The Green cure is worse than the purported illness, regardless of how many studies authored by climate alarmists claim otherwise.

There are plenty of studies (using that term loosely) that claim Green policies for energy transformation will “stimulate” the economy. But they always come back to massive new government spending, debt and private sector mandates to subsidize the efforts and label it economic stimulus.

Whichever multi-trillion dollar version of the Green New Deal is examined, including the recent unveiling by presidential candidate Joe Biden, the essence is the same: vast new government regulation and mandates over energy, construction, transportation and pretty much every other industry.

Energy is the lifeblood of our national and global economy.  Affecting its supply and price impacts far and wide. Abundant energy supplies enable the economy to grow.  Restricting energy—namely, fossil fuels and nuclear—in the hopes of forcing its replacement with “renewables” will lead to economic contraction.

Proponents of a Green New Deal would reorder of energy policy to phase our use of coal, natural gas and oil and nuclear to replace them with electricity and so-called “renewable” energy sources, wind and solar. While I am a strong believer in technological progress, no one can plausibly explain how renewable energy can replace fossil fuels in the coming decades, if ever.

Many states and cities already have passed energy plans that mandate greater use of renewable energy and less fossil fuel. If this piecemeal effort becomes widespread, America as a whole, like California, will soon suffer higher energy costs, power outages, deforestation, landscape blight, harm to wildlife, and more.  These outcomes are not the ingredients for economic growth.

Green New Deal advocates are defending the new costs and control in two primary ways. First, they believe the planet itself is at greater risk by doing nothing; and the jobs lost in the energy industry are promised to be replaced with “Green” jobs.

First, the planet is not “at risk” if the global average temperature increases by 1.5 degrees by 2050; though no one can claim with certainty that it will. Nor will reducing carbon emissions in the United States necessarily affect global average temperature since many additional factors influence climate. Other industrialized nations like China and Russia will avoid such masochistic economic policy while they happily watch their U.S. adversary relinquish its fossil fuel production and harm its economic and military capacity in the process.

Second, the promise of “Green Jobs” is as vacuous as any from politicians attempting to reassure the public.  Nonetheless, they are itching to undertake a borrowing a spending binge to “create” jobs to produce solar panels, batteries and other components to foist them on the public, regardless of lack of demand and gross inefficiency. That is why every Green New Deal is priced at trillions of taxpayer dollars and constitutes a wasteful “spoon-ready” approach to creating jobs, as the late economist Milton Friedman would sardonically describe.

The Obama administration’s boondoggle taxpayer guarantees for the Solyndra company to produce solar panels, which cost at least $500 million, is emblematic of the problem.  So also is the example of California’s mandate for solar panels on all new homes. More such Green economic policy would exponentially produce the same folly.

A further problem comes from the current federal spending spree on the coronavirus, with $2.5 trillion added to the national debt and another trillion dollars on deck. America is that much closer to economic risk, including runaway inflation from printing money electronically to finance this unprecedented spending.  From a financial standpoint, the Covid pandemic makes the unaffordable Green New Deal much more so.

Government has a role in spearheading research and development in many areas of the economy, including in energy. When practical and feasible, the private sector on its own will make the investment, assume the risk, and profit accordingly from Green energy. Done foolishly, as proposed by the climate alarmists pushing Green New Deals, trillions of dollars will be printed and wasted, and jobs and livelihoods will be squandered.

Author

  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Gov. George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26.