Democrat firebrands Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey unveiled their “Green New Deal,” a multi-trillion-dollar effort to overhaul the energy industry and slash America’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero within a decade.
The legislation’s title is fitting. The original New Deal failed to create jobs and prolonged the Great Depression. This Green New Deal would be no different — it will destroy millions of jobs and push working-class Americans into poverty.
The bill seeks to transition America to nearly 100-percent renewable energy sources. Right now, those sources account for 11 percent of America’s total energy consumption. To achieve this green future in just a decade, the proposed law would have to create huge subsidies for wind and solar power and place new restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling.
Such subsidies and restrictions have already been tried on much smaller, less ambitious, scales — yet they’ve still failed miserably.
Consider California. Back in 2015, the state passed a bill calling for a transition to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The Golden State required power plants to generate more electricity from green energy and lavished millions in subsidies on wind and solar companies.
California consumers are paying the price. From 2016 to 2017, electricity prices in California “rose three times more than they did in the rest of the United States,” according to policy group Environmental Progress. California now has the highest average electricity prices in the continental United States, according to my recent study from the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank. The state also has the highest poverty rate and second-highest gas prices nationwide.
This big-government approach to fighting climate change isn’t merely expensive — it’s ineffective. States like West Virginia and Ohio, which haven’t enacted such policies, have actually seen greater emissions declines than the Golden State.
Germany’s renewable-energy push has similarly failed. “An average four-person household has to pay more than double for power in 2017 compared to 2000,” the head of a consumer lobbying group told German radio.
Ontario politicians’ green dreams have also turned into a nightmare for consumers. The Canadian province passed a law promoting green energy in 2009. From 2008 to 2016, electric prices spiked more than 70 percent — prices jumped 15 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone. The provincial legislature recently repealed the law.
The Green New Deal would replicate such failed schemes, but on a much grander scale.
If electricity prices surged here, working-class Americans would be clobbered. The poorest 20 percent of U.S. wage-earners spend nearly 10 percent of income on electricity, while the richest 20 percent spend around 1 percent.
Fossil-fuels keep energy bills affordable for working families. Natural gas production has surged roughly 50 percent in the past decade, causing electricity and cooking fuel prices to plummet. This production boom saved the average American family more than $1,300 in 2015.
The oil and gas sector also provides jobs to working-class Americans. Oil and gas firms support over 10 million jobs across the country — the Green New Deal would eliminate nearly all these positions. By comparison, the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 eliminated fewer than 9 million jobs.
The Green New Deal is an expensive exercise in futility. Its signature policies have already caused energy prices to soar from California to Canada. Scaling up these failed policies would wreck the U.S. economy and destroy millions of workers’ livelihoods.
Dr. Wayne Winegarden is senior fellow in Business and Economics for the Pacific Research Institute. This piece originally ran in OC Register.