Socialist Who Won Primary In Upset Has Radical Views On Energy Reform

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A far-left candidate’s upset victory in a New York primary race has highlighted her radical views on climate change and the energy industry.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shook the political world Tuesday night with her surprise primary victory over Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district. Despite being heavily outspent, the first-time candidate was able to oust Crowley, who has served in Congress since 1999 and is the fourth most powerful House Democrat. More notable than her young age — she is only 28 years old — is her political ideology.

Ocasio-Cortez identifies as a democratic socialist.

From abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement to denouncing Israel, Ocasio-Cortez holds positions that would place her well to the left of many of her would-be Democratic colleagues in the House. If victorious in the general election, which is very likely given the Democratic lean of the district, Ocasio-Cortez has promised to push some of the most ardent climate change regulation to date.

“We need more environmental hardliners in Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a Monday interview with In These Times. She has campaigned on the idea of a “Green New Deal,” which would require massive government spending to quickly phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. “We need a Marshall Plan for renewable energy in the United States,” she said. “The idea that the Democratic Party needs to be moderate is what’s holding us back on this.”

While calling for a transition toward renewables is a mainstream position of the modern Democratic Party, her timetable appears to be unprecedented. According to numerous public statements, and her own official campaign website, Ocasio-Cortez believes the U.S. must transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

“We have to invest in changing to a renewable energy economy in 15 years,” she said during an April interview with The Young Turks. “In order for our generation to survive, life as we know it — and maintain a sense of normalcy — we need to switch to renewable energy as quickly as possible.” (RELATED: Socialist Darling Caught Celebrating, Campaigning With Known Anti-Semite And Racist)

Ocasio-Cortez has acknowledged that other environmental activists have called for a 100 renewable mandate by 2050, a more gradual approach, but she believes the “numbers” prove that it can be done in a shorter timeline. Her campaign platform is not specific in how to achieve such a goal.

The U.S. has made strides in renewable energy development, however, it’s still largely dependent on fossil fuels. Natural gas, petroleum and coal accounted for over 77 percent of the country’s primary energy production in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration. Renewables — not counting nuclear energy — made up less than 13 percent. Such a transition in only fifteen years would require a monumental shift in the U.S. energy industry.

States with high renewable energy mandates — including ratepayers in New England and California — have been plagued with costly electricity bills and grid reliability issues, a result of the intermittent power produced by wind turbines and solar panels that can only generate energy when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.

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