Costly "Green New Deal" Distracts From Pro-taxpayer Environmental Reforms

NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. J. Res. 8, the “Green New Deal.” The policies outlined in this resolution would require a massive increase in taxes, deficits, and already unaffordable borrowing with potentially only marginal effects on greenhouse gas emissions.

Congress has made several attempts in the past to curb activities that are harmful to the environment with mixed success. Though the goals are often commendable, the means to achieve them are not. Worse, these policies tend to come with a host of unintended consequences and rarely achieve their objectives. For example, the Renewable Fuel Standard, aimed at weaning Americans off “dirty” fossil fuels by substituting “greener” plant-derived ethanol, has instead increased environmental damage due to fertilizer run-off and corn ethanol production has been found to be more carbon intensive than gasoline production. Cap-and-trade schemes have done little to reduce carbon consumption and have been riddled with fraud.

Cost estimates of the Green New Deal have varied widely. What is clear, however, is that the price tag would be staggering. Upgrading all buildings, a more efficient smart-grid, high speed rail, and infrastructure overhaul (not to mention extraneous provisions like guaranteed health care and union jobs) would require a massive infusion of new revenues (higher taxes), deficit spending, and borrowing at a time when taxpayers are already underwater.

Some of the very changes the Green New Deal calls for would actually stymie innovation and undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy such as solar and wind power already enjoy an embarrassment of riches when it comes to federal and state subsidies, tax credits, and mandates. Likewise, federal loan programs aimed at developing new transportation technology have been a costly failure.

In numerous instances, the stated goals of the Green New Deal would be better achieved by addressing current policies that impede innovation, investment, and environmentally responsible best practices. Before “investing in sustainable farming and land use practices,” Congress should end or reform commodity subsidies and other programs that encourage farmers to skip crop rotations, plant crops that deplete nutrients from the soil, and overuse fertilizers. Solar panels and high efficiency washers and dryers would all be more affordable without costly tariffs on these foreign-made goods or the materials used to manufacture them here.

Unfortunately, half-baked proposals like the Green New Deal, that rely more heavily on tired, ideological myths than current facts, divert resources and attention from those reforms that would truly help address environmental concerns.

Roll call votes on S.J. Res. 8 will be included in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.