The Green New Deal is Coming to a Community Near You
Politicians in Washington are often immersed in endless political fights with little regard for the impact of the policies they are fighting over. We see this with taxes, regulations, spending, trade and other issues. The decisions they make often have unforeseen consequences in communities and small towns.
This week, the left’s rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced her far-reaching radical “Green New Deal.” These ideas are not only circulating through Washington. They are actually well under way and causing great debate and conflict in many communities throughout the United States.
The Expense of False Environmentalism
In New York, Governor Cuomo and his green energy bureaucrats imposed mandates to reduce carbon emissions. Appealingly entitled Clean Energy Standards (CES), these mandates call for over 50 percent of the state’s utilities to generate electricity through renewable sources by 2030. Governor Cuomo also issued an executive order mandating the generation of over 2,000 megawatts of energy using offshore wind, also by 2030.
Who will pay for all this, you might ask. Well, the same folks who always pay — you, the taxpayer.
Indeed to fund the CES, New Yorkers will pay an increase of $3.6 billion in electricity costs, according to a report by Continental Economics. That’s just to get things going. By 2050, New Yorkers will be subsidizing Cuomo’s green new deal to a tune of over one trillion dollars. For all that, they’ll be “providing scant, if any, measurable benefits,” the report states.
Footnote: U.S. per person CO2 emissions have declined to their lowest levels in over six decades. The U.S. Energy Administration reports that from 2005-2017, U.S.-energy-related emissions dropped by 14 percent.
Environmental Damage and Community Impact
But it’s not just about the numbers, the money and the costs. The deployment of green energy causes tremendous environmental and community impact. Utility-scale solar facilities that are not built in the desert require destruction of the land — trees and farms. They can permanently alter the character of the community.
Cleaning the panels requires water. So solar companies often have to tap into water sources, impacting local wells and aquifers. Muddy runoff creates additional risk. Runoff can impact roads, streams and tributaries. Plus, if decommissioning is mishandled, when their use is complete, these solar fields can be left to rot. This junk damages the environment and wastes land. Taxpayers are left to pay the clean-up costs.
Solar and wind facilities, largely propped up by taxpayers’ subsidies, are causing environmental damage and community conflict. But local citizens going about their daily grind are never told or warned about these troubles. Rather, they are told to be proud that a green energy project is coming to a community near them. But in some communities, the people impacted, and the taxpayers being forced to pay for these projects, are standing up and voicing concerns about the damage they can cause.
Concerned Citizens Pushing Back
Residents in Spotsylvania, Virginia, for example, are pushing back against what would be the largest utility scale solar complex east of the Mississippi. This facility would cover over 6,000 acres — that’s half the size of Manhattan. It would be the fifth largest solar facility in the U.S. and the twelfth largest in the world. This large, not-so-green facility is part of embattled and controversial Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s version of the Green New Deal.
Local citizens have formed citizens groups. Large numbers of citizens are attending local government meetings and voicing their concerns. This all proves, once again, that if we are going to fight the not-so-good deals emanating from Washington and some state capitals, citizen activism is critical. Because while all of this sounds and feels good to the politicians, someone has to live with the consequences.
Ken Blackwell is former Mayor of Cincinnati, Secretary of State of Ohio and former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.