(The Center Square) — A group of liberal Democrats reintroduced the Green New Deal Thursday, the controversial environmental legislation that experts say would spike energy costs in the U.S. and cost taxpayers tens of trillions of dollars.
Advocates, though, argue the changes are needed to prevent worsening climate change and get ahead of an inevitable renewable energy transition.
“For so long, our movement towards a sustainable future has been divided with really just this false notion that we have to choose between our planet and our economy,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said at a news conference Thursday.
Ocasio-Cortez has largely become the face of the legislation, which she called “enormous legislation, huge in scope” and emphasized the 20 million union jobs and investments in mass transit and electrical vehicle infrastructure such as charging ports.
“We refuse to allow, for example, an economy that goes from oil barons to solar barons,” she said. “That’s what we are not going to do because what we are going to do is we are going to transition to a 100% carbon free economy that is more unionized, more just, more dignified, and guarantees more health care and housing than we ever have before.”
“That’s the goal of the Green New Deal,” she added.
As Ocasio-Cortez noted, the Green New Deal is sweeping legislation that would invest trillions in a green economy. Cost estimates vary widely on the legislation, which has changed since its initial unveiling years ago. The right-leaning American Action Forum estimated after its release that the legislation could cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10 years.
Critics have raised an array of concerns, saying the bill is too expensive, pointing to national security concerns, and arguing the renewable energy technology is not yet reliable or advanced enough to replace fossil fuels.
They also point to energy costs, which have soared since President Joe Biden took office.
“Last year Democrats hid most of their green agenda inside the so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ which will add trillions to federal debt,” Daniel Turner, executive director of the energy workers advocacy group, Power the Future, told The Center Square. “They know there’s no appetite for this radical green plan and it is why they never introduced it when they had control of both chambers.
“While Americans pay $1.70 more per gallon of gas since Biden took office and deal with high food prices and empty shelves, we get this kind of DC political gamesmanship, and the American people are sick of it,” he added.
Critics also point to concerns over how federal spending on the green energy transition has fared so far. House Republicans this week were quick to point to a newly released analysis of the Inflation Reduction Act from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which found that more than 90% of green energy tax subsidies went to huge corporations with more than $1 billion in sales.
Republicans also pointed out the Inflation Reduction Act favors “woke” companies with ESG investments and also expressed concerns about reliance on China, which owns the market on the production of green energy technology.
“Many of the same companies getting a green corporate welfare check have shed their American identity to do business with the Chinese Communist Party, and as a result our tax dollars are being funneled to Chinese entities that manipulate our key supply chains,” House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said.