It can be painful to watch politicians intentionally mislead their constituents. Such was the case recently when Rep. Pete Stauber posted a nearly four-minute video clip online that’s full of disinformation on the Green New Deal— a set of policies designed to invest in the nation’s energy and transportation infrastructure, create millions of new high-paying jobs, and advance the nation’s transition to a carbon-neutral energy future.
Opinion polls have shown broad public support for the concept of the Green New Deal, which at this point remains a set of policy goals, with no legislation currently introduced.
But to hear Republicans, you’d think the Green New Deal was set for a vote on the House floor, and that its passage would leave Americans freezing in the dark in their own homes, unable to get to work in the morning.
It’s part of an ongoing effort by the GOP to not only paint Democrats who support the goals of the Green New Deal as radical, but to head off any progress on the issue of climate change in order to protect the fossil fuel industry, which has become the primary financial backer of the Republican Party.
Stauber’s cringe-worthy video, which is posted on Youtube, uses false data, false and exaggerated claims, and scare-mongering in hopes of undermining a positive vision for creating jobs, addressing climate change, and improving air and water quality, objectives that most Republicans in the age of Trump now adamantly oppose. Stauber claims that the Green New Deal would eliminate air travel, shipping, mining, and would require everyone to turn in their cars for electric vehicles and retrofit their homes to install windmills and solar panels. He really says these things, and it’s total nonsense.
In his video, Rep. Stauber gets his facts wrong on the state’s current energy mix, and falsely claims that the Green New Deal would prohibit the use of various forms of energy, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, and gasoline. In fact, related legislation currently being developed in the House doesn’t prohibit any source of energy. The goal of the Green New Deal isn’t to eliminate all fossil fuels, but to transition over the next few decades to what is known as a net-zero carbon energy system by investing in non-carbon producing forms of energy and by deploying methods to remove carbon and other heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere. That can be as simple as planting more trees, which remove carbon from the air as they grow.
It isn’t just about producing energy in new ways. Getting the most benefit from the energy we do produce is actually more important. Keep in mind, we use power to derive some sort of benefit— a warm house, hot water, the use of lights and appliances, or a trip to the grocery store. In most cases, technologies already exist which could provide us the same benefits for considerably less energy. The Green New Deal would invest in such energy conserving technologies as well as in research and development of new ones.
Critics point out that the Green New Deal will be expensive, and that part is true. The kind of energy and societal changes that will be needed to head off the planet-altering and civilization-threatening impacts of climate change won’t come cheaply. But it’s actually far cheaper in the long run than ignoring the problem.
“Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.” That is among the conclusions of the 4th National Climate Assessment released last year by the Trump administration’s own scientists.
By investing up front in initiatives such as many of those proposed in the Green New Deal, we can create millions of good-paying jobs in the energy, transportation, and construction sectors, improve the nation’s energy efficiency, our air and water quality, and help to ensure a livable future for our children and grandchildren.
Those are undoubtedly reasons that the Green New Deal is supported by a large majority of Americans. And, unfortunately, it’s why politicians like Pete Stauber feel compelled to mislead their constituents. They’re afraid that if we knew the facts, we’d be demanding exactly these kinds of policies— and asking why the GOP is standing in the way.