Cornyn Op-Ed: Green New Deal Is Bad for Texan
This week, the U.S. Senate took a consequential vote for Texas, and the Houston region in particular — a vote on a resolution calling for America to adopt a “Green New Deal.” Not a single Senator voted in favor of it.
Framed as a way to fight climate change and invigorate the already thriving economy, the Green New Deal mentions things like creating high-wage jobs, investing in infrastructure and industry and promoting justice and equality.
But if you are looking for a roadmap for how to reach these laudable goals, you are likely to be disappointed. Though supporters of the Green New Deal are long on utopian buzzwords, they’re short on details of how to actually achieve these goals. Even more concerning is a lack of ways to pay for them.
The Green New Deal is a grab bag of socialist policies, heavy environmental regulations and unprecedented government handouts. Unsurprisingly, most moderate Democrats aren’t rushing to sing its praises.
Forget working to achieve the American Dream — the Green New Deal would guarantee every person in the United States a job, health care, education, healthy food and paid vacations. And as one of the authors of the bill noted in an informational document, the government would be happy to foot the bill for anyone who is “unable or unwilling to work.”
Just when you think things can’t get any crazier, they do. According to this document, the plan also commits to overhauling every building in America to meet strict new efficiency codes. Every home, airport, courthouse, grocery store, school — every single building would have to be updated.
Adding to the list of taxpayer-funded expenses is “Medicare for All.” This proposal sounds good in theory, but the possible negative effects — higher taxes, no more private insurance companies, harm to the current Medicare system and possible delays in treatment — quickly turns “Medicare for All” into “Medicare for None.” It would hollow out the current health care system that seniors rely on, and force the American people to give up their insurance for a government-run plan.
One of the most outrageous parts of the Green New Deal — and where this hits home for Houston — is that it calls for an unachievable energy industry overhaul. Forget reducing greenhouse gas emissions — the Green New Deal says we must completely eliminate them within 10 years. Instead of embracing oil and natural gas — our most reliable and affordable energy sources — they propose generating 100 percent of America’s energy from renewable sources. Last year, renewables accounted for only 17 percent of our total energy sources, but don’t waste time looking through the Green New Deal for a tenable strategy on how to quickly scale that number — it’s not there.
If the government overreach doesn’t concern you, the price may. One report found that the Green New Deal could cost as much as $93 trillion. To put that number in perspective, it’s more than the United States has spent in its entire existence.
Though a host of Senate Democrats sang the praises of the Green New Deal when it was first introduced, that support quickly evaporated once the Majority Leader announced it would receive a vote. As we saw on Tuesday, every single one of those supporters simply voted “present.”
Promoting policies that are unaffordable, unfeasible and unworkable is hardly a good use of time in Washington. Instead, let’s start talking about solutions that actually have a chance of becoming law.
I recently spoke at the CERAWeek conference in Houston — one of the largest energy industry gatherings in the world — where I discussed how to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint using bottom-up solutions. America’s entrepreneurial minds are our greatest natural resource. We have to get government out of the way and double down on innovation — not regulation. Washington must do more to promote the research and development of new technologies that can lower emissions while strengthening our economy and keeping costs low for consumers.
Instead of flipping the kill switch on the energy sources that power our country, we should follow an example set by Texas and unleash the power of the private sector.
Last month, I visited NET Power’s demonstration plant in La Porte to see how the company is using a first-of-its-kind power system to generate affordable electricity from fossil fuels with zero emissions.
By encouraging the research and development of new technologies that reduce emissions or capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we can lead the world in smart climate policies without raising the price tag on Texas taxpayers.
I voted against the Green New Deal because it is a solution in search of a problem. It would tighten the grip of government and bankrupt our country in the process. It is counter to our Texas values and an insult to hard-working Americans.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.