A move to transform 100 percent of the country’s electricity supply to renewable energy is receiving substantial support among candidates running for next year’s Democratic presidential nomination.
California Senator Kamala Harris has announced her support for what is being called the Green New Deal, an initiative that would make the U.S. entirely carbon neutral by the year 2035.
In announcing her support of the effort, Harris said, “Climate change is an existential threat to us, and we have got to deal with the reality of it.”
Harris joins several other Democrat presidential candidates, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have also endorsed the Green New Deal.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is thinking of mounting a 2020 presidential bid, recently numbered himself among the Green New Deal enthusiasts, saying such a plan should be “bold and ambitious, and most importantly, achievable.”
The Green New Deal takes its inspiration from a series of economic reform programs enacted during the Great Depression by President Franklin Roosevelt that were designed to enhance conservation and promote the arts, among other initiatives, while also increasing employment.
The most visible current proponent of the Green New Deal is New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has suggested imposing a 60 to 70 percent tax rate on incomes above $10 million in order to fund the program.
Other aspects of the program would see the government offering incentives to companies taking on green investment and reduced energy usage projects.
As envisioned, the Green New Deal would also mandate the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation, manufacturing, and agricultural segments of the national economy.
Ocasio-Cortez has additionally emphasized that, like the original New Deal, the Green New Deal could be a job provider, with employment increasing in infrastructure and clean energy projects.
The program is not without its detractors. Craig Richardson, president of the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute, has attacked the Green New Deal as unrealistic.
In a recent column for the Washington Examiner, Richardson took to task the program’s 10-year goal of decommissioning non-renewable energy power plants across the country, contending that such a timetable would “require many reliable plants to be taken offline far ahead of their scheduled retirement from service. This would needlessly drive up energy costs still further.”
Aspects of the Green New Deal are expected to be taken up this winter by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
But the Atlantic magazine is warning that Green New Deal enthusiasts should not expect to immediately achieve all of their goals.
Such success, the publication says, “will require Democrats to control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate—and then find a policy that will pass all three.”
By Garry Boulard
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