Pundits may be having a field day with the Green New Deal but don’t dismiss it too quickly
I have received a few inquiries regarding the Green New Deal, usually with a chuckle or a smirk.
“Are they serious?” to which I reply, “You bet they are.”
Newly elected U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced H. Res. 109 – Green New Deal—and don’t kid yourself: Ms. Ocasio-Cortez arrived in Washington with a mission. As a House freshman, she is serious, bold and brazen—beating a 10-term incumbent for the Democratic nomination and beating her Republican opponent in the general election with 78 percent of New York’s 14th district vote. She commands respect and maybe a little jealousy from her peers.
Some history is warranted. Playing off the New Deal introduced by then-President Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression-era, the Green New Deal has been around a little while in various forms. It was first formulated by the Green Party in 2006 when Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was likely still in high school.
Thomas Friedman, a writer for the New York Times, used the phrase “Green New Deal” when calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, tax carbon dioxide emissions and the creation of lasting incentives for wind and solar energy. Then-Senator Obama adopted the “Green New Deal” as part of his presidential bid platform and, as president, enacted a $51 billion in “green stimulus” and a $2.3 billion tax credit to clean energy manufacturing. However, the Green New Deal terminology quietly vanished and the holistic approach moved to the back burner until Senator Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein ran for president in 2016, revealing far more support for far left-leaning ideas than many thought.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez referred to the Green New Deal proposed in Obama’s 2008 platform as a “half measure” that “will not work.”
House Resolution 109 now calls for the creation of a Green New Deal with the goals of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; establishing millions of high-wage jobs and ensuring economic security for all; investing in infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all; and promoting justice and equality.
The resolution calls for achieving these goals through a 10-year national mobilization effort through building smart power grids (i.e., power grids that enable customers to reduce their power use during peak demand periods); upgrading all existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve maximum energy and water efficiency; removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and agricultural sectors; cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites; ensuring businesspersons are free from unfair competition; and providing higher education, high-quality healthcare, and affordable, safe, and adequate housing to all.
Ashik Siddique, who serves on the Democratic Socialists of America’s climate working group, commented: “We are talking about the need to transform the physical infrastructure of every sector of the economy.”
Motorcoaches, buses and trucks would most likely be compelled to move toward all-electric fleets. Airlines would likely cease to exist (at least as we know them now) in favor of electric high-speed trains. Personal cars and cows remain in question.
The cost estimates range from $700 billion to $1 trillion annually if the Green New Deal were to be fully implemented and achieve a drawdown of carbon emissions to net zero in 10 years. Some experts doubt it still would have any tangible effect on climate change or carbon emissions.
“We’ve already done that calculation,” said Dr. John Christie, who heads the University of Alabama, Huntsville, Department of Atmospheric Studies. “If the United States disappeared from the planet right now, the effect of global temperatures would only be about a tenth of a degree by 2100.”
Nevertheless, H. Res. 109 has 68 cosponsors and has been referred to 11 House committees and five subcommittees. The corresponding bill in the Senate (S.Res.59) introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) has 11 cosponsors. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (Independent Socialist—VT), all candidates for president, are cosponsors.
A House Resolution is different than a House Bill. A simple resolution is a proposal that addresses matters entirely within the prerogative of one Chamber or the other. It requires neither the approval of the other Chamber nor the signature of the President, and it does not have the force of law.
In general, a House Resolution reflects a sense of Congress and can influence the legislative direction and treatment of future bills.
The future of H. RES. 109 – New Green Deal – is ambitious and to be taken seriously. The United States is a diverse economy and nearly all sectors would be affected if the proposals were implemented. We are monitoring the progress cautiously H. Res. 109 cautiously.