Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has unveiled his version of the Green New Deal. The Democratic Socialist characterizes it this way: “A ten-year nationwide mobilization centered on equity and our humanity during which climate change will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.”
That’s another way of saying he proposes a government economic takeover that will eliminate the use of all fossil fuels, reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, radically remake farming, unionize 20 million people in new energy-related jobs he’s supposedly creating and even pay $36 billion to bribe Americans to replace their front yards with vegetable gardens.
All for the low, low price of $16 trillion dollars.
But don’t worry. According to Sanders, the plan will pay for itself within 15 years. According to Sanders’ plan, one of the revenue sources will be carbon fuels. “Bernie will make fossil fuel corporations pay for the irreparable damage they have done to our communities and our planet.”
Taxpayers will pony up more than $3 trillion to finance a buy-back program for gas vehicles, to be replaced by electric cars, school and transit buses. And this is supposed to be a great deal because, according to Sanders, the government is taking over all power generation in this country so the electricity to run all these vehicles will be “virtually free” by 2035.
It’s worth noting that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, West Virginia is among the top three states with the largest recoverable coal reserves, coal-fired power plants account for more than 90 percent of the state’s electricity generation, and the state “overlies part of the nation’s largest natural gas-producing area.”
In other words, Sanders’ plan would wreck not only the state’s current energy economy, but also wipe out any future growth accompanying downstream manufacturing from natural gas.
The Sanders campaign has put out a statement quoting environmentalists praising the plan as a bold initiative, but most of those statements are from the most radical wing of the environmental movement, like The Sunrise Movement and 350 Action.
But the New York Times quotes Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way saying, “The Sanders plan appears to be big, but not serious. We need to have every option on the table.”
Sanders’ plan could hurt the environmental movement. It is so radical and unrealistic that no one except those with the most extreme anti-carbon views can keep a straight face while reading it.
Sanders and others who support his Green New Deal want to compare it to the historic moon shot of the 1960’s. That’s a convenient and wildly inaccurate correlation. Sending a man to the moon was about one thing; Sanders’ energy make-over is about everything.
An opinion piece by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones—Mother Jones, mind you—said, “It’s a box-checking exercise designed to appeal to every possible lefty constituency rather than something that has even the remotest chance of building public support needed to get it passed through Congress.”
Pew Research reported earlier this year that a majority of U.S. adults (56 percent) “say protecting the environment should be a top priority for the president and Congress.” President Trump rejects climate change as a “hoax,” leaving the door open for Democratic presidential candidates to appeal to a broad swath of Americans who are concerned about climate change.
However, Sanders’ scheme will likely turn off moderate Democrats who know a foolhardy fantasy when they see one.