The fight over the so called “Green New Deal” has gone into the states. Although this left-wing idea is pitched as a plan to save the environment, it has elements that don’t have anything to do with environmentalism and fall into the category of new entitlement spending and an overall push for big government. Liberty minded activists in states need to be smart in fighting this idea and to be careful not to overreach.
The national version of the Green New Deal is described by CNN as a ”14-page resolution [that] envisions a shift to 100% renewable and zero-emission energy sources, and calls for the creation of millions of new high-wage jobs to help wipe out poverty." CNN describes the resolution as emphasizing “massive public investment in wind and solar production, zero-emission vehicles and high-speed rail, energy-efficient buildings, and smart power grids, as well as ‘working collaboratively’ with farmers and ranchers to move towards sustainable agriculture techniques.” The resolution also addresses “historic injustices visited upon the poor and people of color.” This is a grab bag of left-wing ideas tossed into one green package that has become the centerpiece of a national debate.
It is important to note that our economy has been a great driver of innovation in the energy sector producing “clean coal,” solar and electric cars. Conservatives don’t want the government to play favorites and help out solar and plug-in cars, yet there is nothing wrong with renewables competing in the private sector if they can prove efficient while convincing consumers to use them. Some people don’t care about the personal cost of renewables and just want to use renewables to feel like they are helping the environment and that is every American's right.
The state of Virginia has become a battleground over environmental policy and a Virginia version of the Green New Deal. A local Virginia paper posted an op-ed on May 5, 2019 where the VA plan was described as “a moratorium beginning Jan. 1, 2020 on approval by any permitting agency on any new major fossil fuel projects. The legislation defined fossil fuels as ‘coal, petroleum, natural gas or any derivative of coal, petroleum, or natural gas that is used for fuel.” They want 80% from solar, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal and ocean tidal sources of energy. The plan is not realistic and likely will not go anywhere in the Virginia legislature.
Some have already started to fight over a privately-funded plan on private property in Spotsylvania, Virginia and calling it part of a VA Green New Deal. This is an overreach and a mischaracterization of that private plan.
The Virginia sPower solar plan falls into the category of private individuals and corporations engaging in private contractual relationships that don’t have anything to do with the core agenda of the Green New Deal. This project in Virginia is a $615 million private investment that, according to the Free-Lance Starr of Fredericksburg, will create “800-1,000 local employees during construction, including electricians, site contractors, landscapers, mechanics, heavy equipment operators, engineers, waste management, and security guards.” The project will generate “$110 million in economic output and another $164 million over the life of the project” as well as “approximately $13 million in new gross tax revenues for the county, which reflects a 1,800 percent increase over current tax generation without impacts on schools, public safety, transportation or other county services.” Blind hatred of the Green New Deal should not lead Virginia residents to reflexively oppose this private plan on private property.
Conservatives want to stop the use of government subsidies and tax benefits to push renewables while discriminating against fossil fuels. The markets should rule these private decisions. Our nation has used efficiency and technological advances to lower emissions dramatically over the past few decades showing that capitalism and free markets work.
It is also true that people deserve the freedom to choose renewables if they want. Renewables, or a mix of the most efficient ones, may be the future of generating energy for Americans, yet only solar and wind seem to have taken hold in a few communities. If private companies want to spend cash on renewables, then that is their choice.
When the government tries to force renewables on Americans at a high cost, that is wrong and should be stopped. The “Green New Deal” has polled as popular yet expect those poll numbers to plummet when the American people get wise to this shell game the left is playing by mixing environmental politics and the push to expand entitlement programs.