As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) comes closer to being the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, now is a better time than ever to assess the economic impact of his most ambitious plan: the Green New Deal (GND).
According to a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Bernie’s “Green New Deal could cost households in 11 states at least $70K—just in the first year after passage.”
Before diving into the details of the exorbitant costs associated with the GND, perhaps we should take a giant step back and assess whether the GND is even remotely necessary in the first place.
The GND is premised as a solution to the existential threat of climate change. Even more importantly, the GND is presented as a solution to climate change caused by manmade emissions of carbon dioxide. If climate change is not chiefly due to human generated carbon dioxide emissions, then the entire GND would not be necessary in the first place.
Before jumping to any conclusions on the origin of a constantly changing climate, perhaps we should ask ourselves if the climate changed significantly before the advent of fossil fuels. The answer to this significant question is: Yes, the climate has been changing for thousands of years, well before human beings harnessed the awesome power of fossil fuels to overwhelmingly improve our standard of living.
Don’t believe me? Well, consider this fact from the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor: “Continental glaciers invaded Illinois repeatedly during the Ice Age, a span of time from about 2.4 million years to 10,000 years ago. The modern landscape you now see records the retreat of the last major ice sheet that extended into Illinois from 25,000 to 14,000 years ago.”
This “inconvenient truth” means that the exact location, literally, where I am sitting as I write this was under a glacier a few thousand years ago. And this was well before carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were even in the realm of possibility—unless dinosaurs were somehow able to run coal-fired power plants, unbeknownst to all of us.
Now, back to the cost of Bernie’s GND. According to CEI’s report, “the average household in eleven model states will be on the hook for more than $70,000 in increased costs for electricity, upgrading vehicles and housing, and shipping in just the first year under the Green New Deal.”
Let that sink in for a minute. Under the GND, the average household in the 11 states studied would incur a bill of $70,000 in the first year alone. Even more foreboding, the report states, “Those initial costs would be slightly lower in subsequent years, but households in those states could expect tens of thousands of dollars in higher annual costs going forward.”
And for midwestern farmers, the GND would deal a devastating blow. If the GND is ever implemented, it is “estimated costs to the agricultural industry just in the state of Wisconsin would decrease crop yields and raise costs in ways that would devastate the state’s dairy sector. … [T]he Green New Deal will cost Wisconsin farmers more than $200 billion annually in decreased production and $2.5 billion per year to reduce cattle emissions.”
In other words, the GND would impose a $70,000 bill upon American households in the first year to fund a radical transformation of the nation’s housing, buildings, and vehicle stock. On top of that, it would decimate America’s thriving energy sector and destroy America’s agriculture sector.
Perhaps Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s Research Director Will Flanders sums it up best: “While the Green New Deal may play well with coastal elites, in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, families, businesses, and farms depend on affordable, reliable energy. The Green New Deal would eliminate that, driving middle class families into poverty by imposing staggering annual costs of more than $40,000 per household.”
The Green New Deal is a “solution” to a non-existent problem that would unnecessarily cause an economic apocalypse in the United States. In reality, the GND is not about climate change at all. It is about the largest expansion of government in American history.
During the Great Depression, many opposed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s then-radical New Deal policies as paving the way for socialism in the United States. Today, many Americans are saying the same thing about Bernie’s Green New Deal.
If/when voters have their say, it seems like a $70,000 first year price tag might be a bit too much for them to swallow. Only time will tell whether the GND becomes reality or remains a leftist fantasy.
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org)is an editor at The Heartland Institute.