Energy and infrastructure policy debate has taken center stage across the country. As the new Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform’s (COR) Subcommittee on the Environment, this session of Congress I will have a significant role in examining policies related to climate change, energy, and public health.
The latest policy proposal to come across my desk? The Green New Deal.
As you may have heard, the Green New Deal is the newest Democratic dream for confronting climate change. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who also sits on the COR Environment Subcommittee – introduced a bill that establishes a framework for decarbonizing the American economy through zero-emission energy sources, vehicles and infrastructure within the next decade. The legislation – and accompanying summary documents – calls for every single standing building to be modified in the next ten years, seeks to replace our current transportation system with one that relies on electric vehicles and mass transit, phases out nuclear power, imposes universal healthcare, and misleadingly guarantees a job for every single American citizen. The fact of the matter is this – anyone who has read the provisions in the Green New Deal knows it would saddle hard-working taxpayers with trillions of dollars of debt and displace millions of Americans from their jobs and homes.
Rural communities in particular would face real devastation under the Green New Deal. America’s small towns are powered by nearly 900 electric cooperatives that receive more than 60% of their power from coal and natural gas. Big utility companies, or the federal government, would dominate and eliminate rural cooperatives under the Green New Deal, forcing many of these co-ops out of business. Those that survive would be forced to scratch their current business models and attempt to come up with entirely new and vastly expensive, renewable systems. The end result is higher electric bills for you and your family. California has already put this policy into practice, mandating that utilities get at least 60% of their electricity from renewables by 2030. As a result, reports show that between 2011 and 2017, electricity prices in California rose to a rate that was five times greater than national electricity prices.
The Green New Deal would also cause further harm to our mining communities, driving good-paying jobs and coal production to countries like China that have much worse environmental regulations and standards, likely increasing global greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Coal is one of the most reliable energy sources in the U.S. and generates baseload power that prevents rolling black outs when wind and solar fall short in extreme weather. Coal provides good-paying jobs and security for countless communities. Under the Green New Deal, coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear power would cease to exist in the U.S. Our coal miners have fought hard to keep their jobs, despite excessive and burdensome regulations that have targeted their livelihoods. It’s far past time that Washington stopped picking winners and losers and stopped seeking to eliminate an entire way of life.
American farmers and cattlemen would also suffer from the Green New Deal. Farmland covers 54% of the total acreage in Kentucky, with the cattle and calf inventory totaling 2.16 million head – making Kentucky the leading cattle producer east of the Mississippi. One of the deal’s stated goals is to work “collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.” On this same note, a redacted FAQs page published by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and provided to the media proposed eliminating “farting cows” in their entirety. Colin Woodall, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs recently stated, “Despite all the progress we’ve made on the environmental front in recent decades, some policymakers still seem to think targeting U.S. beef producers and consumers will make a huge impact on global emissions.” He’s right – and U.S. beef producers now have one of the lowest carbon footprints compared to our global counterparts. Harming our agriculture sector in the pursuit of this irrational plan is ill-informed and misguided.
Ultimately, in the quest to gain notoriety by introducing her proposal under the pretext of “saving the planet,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has undermined the credibility of her own plan by making impractical, unrealistic promises. Further, claiming we will just print more money and create more banks to pay for this impractical idea is financially irresponsible. The bottom line is this: touting the Green New Deal as a realistic plan for the future is short-sighted and reckless. Rolling out a silver tray of radical environmental and social reforms distracts from the laundry list of pressing issues at hand that we have yet to address. We must use caution when considering a climate change and environmental reform deal that is rooted in socialism. The Green New Deal would take our country in a direction far from the America we know, and our citizens deserve better. Our citizens know better.
Rep. James Comer is a United States Congressman for the 1st Congressional District, which spans from south central Kentucky to the river counties of far western Kentucky. Contact him with any questions or concerns in his Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3115, in the Tompkinsville Office at (270) 487-9509, in the Paducah Office at (270) 408-1865, or schedule an appointment in the Madisonville Office by calling (270) 487-9509.