PRESS RELEASE: How the Green New Deal’s Renewable Energy Mining Would Harm Humans and the Environment

Published April 16, 2020

The Green New Deal (GND)—promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and several other prominent elected officials—aims to replace all fossil fuels and nuclear energy with so-called “renewable” energy sources, primarily wind and solar. The justification for this extreme policy proposal is based primarily on the fear that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from oil, natural gas, and coal will cause catastrophic global warming, as well as concerns about the alleged dangers of nuclear power sources.

In a new Heartland Institute Policy Brief, titled “How the Green New Deal’s Renewable Energy Mining Would Harm Humans and the Environment,” Paul Driessen shows how the mining required by the Green New Deal and other proposed renewable energy mandates would cause unimaginable harm to the environment, wildlife, and humans.

Get a PDF copy of the paper at this link.

Driessen argues in this Heartland Policy Brief:

  • Eliminating fossil fuels and nuclear power would require literally millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, and several billion batteries like the half-ton power sources used in Tesla vehicles. This, in turn, would require a massive worldwide increase in mining for lithium, cobalt, copper, iron, aluminum, and numerous other raw materials.


  • Current mining operations to supply materials for today’s comparatively small amount of renewable power technology—plus batteries for laptop computers, smartphones, and electric cars—are already causing supply difficulties and serious problems for the environment.


  • To replace all energy generated by traditional energy sources with power from solar panels—which now generate just 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity—plus a week’s worth of backup power, would require nearly 19 billion solar panels, blanketing an area the size of New York and Vermont.


  • The mining operations required to build wind and solar facilities would involve removing and crushing hundreds of billions of tons of rock and ore, causing major habitat losses and widespread pollution. It would also create serious human health impacts, especially in countries that do not have modern equipment and health and safety protections.


  • Currently, more than 70 percent of the rare earth minerals used in renewable energy sources are mined in China or by companies under Chinese control, with much of China’s production coming from areas north of Baotou, Inner Mongolia, though there are substantial reserves in other parts of the world


  • Miners and other workers labor for long hours under health, safety, and environmental conditions that would be intolerable in Western, industrialized countries. Filthy processing plants receive little or no regular maintenance, cleaning, or repair, which results in serious illnesses. The massive mining expansion that would be required to meet GND demand would further pollute lands and sicken human populations.

This new Heartland Policy Brief shows that the incredible amount of mining required by the Green New Deal is anything but green. The terrible toll the Green New Deal would wreak on the environment is a reality its advocates must address.