Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has championed the “Green New Deal,” an idea rapidly gaining traction in Democratic Party circles.
The “democratic socialist” from New York has pushed for the policy in alarmist terms: “People are going to die,” she says, unless it becomes law. Or perhaps “Americans are dying” already. Either way, we face “cataclysmic climate disaster” unless Congress can “plan and implement a Green New Deal” in ten years.
But the “Green New Deal” has little to do with the environment. It is the latest incarnation of a “red-green” strategy, developed decades ago, which seeks to achieve socialist economic policy through the ruse of environmental crisis.
A decade ago, for example, Van Jones — now a left-wing CNN commentator with an admirably pragmatic streak — published The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. In it, he suggested the U.S. should move to renewable energy resources to avoid higher fuel prices and “climate catastrophe.”
Jones rejected as “scary” and “bizarre” new technologies that would make fuel “out of tar sands and oil shale.” Rather, he argued, the government should promote “green jobs” in renewable energy.
To that end, he envisioned a diverse, working-class political movement embracing formerly elitist policies on the environment as a means to the “transformation of the entire economy,” solving pollution and poverty at the same time.
The book was published a month before Barack Obama won the 2008 election; Jones went on to serve briefly as Obama’s “green jobs czar.”
At around the same time, New York Times columnist and British academic Richard Murphy separately introduced the phrase “Green New Deal” to propose that economic stimulus be used to stimulate renewable energy industries, while ending subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.
These proposals collectively made their way into Obama administration policies, from the grand stimulus of 2009 to restricted oil and gas activity on federal lands.
But these policies failed.
The stimulus largely disappeared into state and local governments, and pet projects like Solyndra, which failed spectacularly.
Meanwhile, innovation in the fossil fuel industry — especially hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” — created a shale boom that made the U.S. the world’s number one producer of oil. Innovation also helped the U.S. shift to natural gas, reducing carbon emissions while growing the economy.
The “Green New Deal,” in other words, has already been tried, and failed.
Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez and a new cohort of “progressive” Democrats is determined to try again, borrowing partly from Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2016 (whom Ocasio-Cortez joined at the protests in North Dakota in the winter of 2016 against an oil pipeline near Standing Rock).
The main demand: a shift to 100% renewable energy sources by 2030. The promise, as with Van Jones in 2008, is that the shift will create massive numbers of new working-class jobs.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) August 9, 2016
Thank you, @NancyPelosi.
We have 10 years left to plan and implement a Green New Deal before cataclysmic climate disaster.
Reinstating the Select Committee is exactly what we need to do. https://t.co/Uy5BnrLZcR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
To place that demand in context, in September, outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require the state to achieve 100% renewable energy — by 2045, not by 2030.
That is, by far, the most ambitious renewable energy plan of any state in the Union — and the state government has no idea how to achieve it. There is no backup plan in case the sun and wind alone cannot meet the needs of a growing population. Critics predict electricity shortages and rationing, and hence a poorer economy, unless the state continues to use fossil fuels.
The “Select Committee” Ocasio-Cortez is demanding would draft legislation to achieve the “Green New Deal.” Along with 100% renewables, her plan also calls for “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety”; and “funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases.”
By any measure, Ocasio-Cortez is calling for huge government intervention in the economy.
The environment might benefit — or might not, if big government creates inefficiencies that produce more waste. Better to let the economy do what it has done without — or against — the government: namely, to innovate, creating cleaner fuels and new technologies, including in renewables.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is not “new,” and may not even be “green.” It is just socialism, which is often the opposite of sound environmental policy.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Law and Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.