The Democratic presidential ticket has, during the first two debates, effectively denied ownership of the Green New Deal. What gives?
Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden said, “I don’t support the Green New Deal,” even though he has supported it for more than a year. Biden’s “Unity Task Force” recommendations issued jointly with Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed the tenets of the Green New Deal, and his campaign’s website embraces it.
At the Vice Presidential debate this week, Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, was asked about Biden’s denial of supporting the GND and her own co-sponsorship of the plan in the Senate. She dodged the question by claiming Biden supports hydro-fracturing for natural gas, and that he will create jobs. Harris also mentioned the wildfires in California and storms on the Gulf Coast, and claimed, “the science is telling us this.” Climate change, she said, is “an existential threat to us as human beings.”
Curiously, Sen. Harris never mentioned the words “Green New Deal,” perhaps because it has never polled well. It is hugely expensive, in the multi-trillions of dollars, and envisions replacing fossil fuels, destroying jobs and empowering government with far greater control over the private economy and lifestyles of Americans. In the abstract, Americans may like “green energy” and “carbon free” concepts when push-polled, but they mostly oppose the socialistic specifics of what is required to get there. This explains why not a single senator, including Harris, supported the GND when it was put to a vote last year on the Senate floor.
Another factor is that every version of the Green New Deal is anti-fracking. Throughout the Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Biden, Sen. Harris, Sen. Sanders and the other two dozen candidates were tripping over each other to tout their support for banning fracking. There were no caveats or ambiguity from Biden or Harris. The general election is a different matter since at least two battleground states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have a large energy sectors dependent on fracking natural gas.
Sen. Harris claimed in the debate, “Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.” Considering her own emphatic commitment to ban fracking, and Biden’s repeated prior statements to do likewise, her reassurance falls flat. I was next expecting her to don a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet to claim she was a fan since her days riding the school bus in suburban California.
The GND’s original sponsor in the U.S. House of Representatives is the one-and-only Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who happened to co-chair the committee that drafted the climate provisions of the Biden-Bernie Unity Task Force. AOC responded to Harris after the debate by saying “fracking is bad, actually.”
As with the first debate, the “moderator,” Susan Page of USA Today asked several loaded questions to Vice President Mike Pence, including on climate change. She asked, “Do you believe, as the scientific community has concluded, that man-made climate change has made wildfires bigger, hotter and more deadly? And it made hurricanes wetter, slower and more damaging (emphasis mine)?
Whatever inchoate description one can make of the “scientific community,” it has not “concluded” any such connection between a changing climate and wildfires and hurricanes. Yet, Ms. Page, a lifelong journalist, incuriously embraces such trope. At least she eschewed debating the subject with Pence, in contrast to the impervious Chris Wallace in the first presidential debate.
The Vice President properly responded with mention of the Trump administration’s environmental record that is impactful on people in the present day, namely, cleaner water and air, and investments in national parks and conservation. He also dismissed any connection to hurricanes, which haven’t changed in frequency in a century; and wildfires, which are caused by mismanaged forests. Pence then turned to challenge Sen. Harris on her and Biden’s embrace of the Green New Deal and their anti-fracking positions.
Mr. Pence also directly avoided the issue whether climate change is “an existential threat” to humanity. His careful response stated, “Climate is changing. We’ll follow the science.” He returned to criticize the Green New Deal and its threat to American jobs, though he could have added that the climate was much warmer in centuries past.
A more robust climate discussion should involve “moderators” challenging politicians who insist on trillions of taxpayer dollars to attempt to lower global temperature by a single degree. Make them justify reducing America’s energy sources, job market and economy by explaining the actual science and data that purports to necessitate such drastic action. Instead, both debates peddled climate shibboleths.
Americans lose when alarmists—politicians and journalists alike— emotionally continue to invoke “science” generically to promote destructive and foolhardy climate policies.