Policy Brief: Protecting the Environment from the Green New Deal

Published December 20, 2019

In recent decades, policymakers have forced public utilities to generate increasingly more electricity from fashionable “renewable energy” sources, notably wind and solar. For example, through various measures, they have pushed automakers to manufacture more electric vehicles. 

The chief policy goal for many of these policymakers is to eliminate reliable and affordable fossil fuels, despite the fact they continue to generate most of America’s electricity and power most forms of U.S. transportation. Ostensibly, their aim is to avoid an onslaught of devastating global warming and extreme weather events, which they attribute to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from burning coal, oil, and natural gas.

The “Green New Deal,” championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other prominent members of Congress, is the latest vehicle for advancing this agenda, which adds nuclear power to the list of energy sources they seek to eliminate. To date, the Green New Deal (GND) has been roundly criticized for the astronomical costs it would impose upon factories, businesses, households, hospitals, and virtually every other sector of the U.S. economy, as well as for the economic devastation it would inflict.

However, too little attention has been paid to the fact GND policies would seriously harm the environment—including lands, wildlife habitats, and threatened and endangered species—and thus would undermine the very values environmentalists have espoused for decades. America faces a dilemma: Will it focus on real environmental problems that do measurable harm to human and ecological wellbeing, or will it mandate policies to head off a perceived climate disaster based on fear and highly dubious speculation?

This Policy Brief reviews the largely ignored environmental damage that would result from the expanded use of renewable energy mandated under the Green New Deal. It also highlights the current opposition to renewable technologies by many environmental groups and the coming clash those groups could find themselves in with GND advocates.