Energy

Cities And States Are Scaling Back Their ‘Green’ Ambitions As Costs Skyrocket, Opposition Grows

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
  • Cities and states are having a hard time trying to implement climate policies laid out in the Green New Deal.
  • Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Green New Deal to transform the U.S. economy.
  • One Texas city’s switch to solar and wind has cost millions and added to residents’ electric bills.

Democrats’ Green New Deal legislation envisions a United States that eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions through a massive expansion of government control, which includes a green grid, electrified mass transit and high-speed rail.

Cities and states actually trying to implement these policies, however, are often finding it difficult to overcome political and economic realities.

In the past year, for example, Washington state voters rejected — for a second time — a proposal to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon tax opponents successfully framed the proposal as an energy tax that would raise prices and do nothing for future global warming. The tax was backed by Democrats like Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also mulling a 2020 presidential run.

Inslee, who styles himself as the Democratic “climate candidate,” has also failed to push major climate policies through the legislature and using his own executive authority.

“It shows you how ineffective he’s been even in a state like Washington,” Todd Myers, environmental policy director at the Washington Policy Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a recent interview.

Trump holds a discussion about school shootings with state governors from around the country at the White House in Washington

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (L) listens to participants as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a discussion about school shootings with state governors from around the country at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

“We’re doing it whether people want it or not,” Myers said of Inslee’s attempts to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Inslee-backed carbon tax would have cost households an extra $230 per year in 2020, according to the Washington Policy Center. Energy bills, including gasoline prices, will increase because of the tax.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, recently introduced highly-anticipated resolutions for a Green New Deal. Those bills called for the entire U.S. to be powered by “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” within 10 years.

The bill also calls for “dramatically expanding and upgrading existing renewable power sources” as part of Green New Deal supporters’ climate crusade. (RELATED: US Forests Are Burning Up Amid An ‘Epidemic’ Of Dead Trees. Experts Say We Need To Cut More Down)

Even at the local level, however, efforts to decarbonize the grid are easier said than done — and not just for political reasons.

Georgetown, Texas, is one of the biggest U.S. cities to claim to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with solar and wind power. The city began to switch to solar and wind in 2012, and Republican Mayor Dale Ross quickly became a poster child for environmentalism.

2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Project Chairman, gestures as he attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann.

The city was even featured in former Vice President Al Gore’s filmAn Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. Gore called the city a “trailblazer” in the fight against global warming.

Georgetown’s green energy ambitions, however, have cost the city roughly $30 million over the past five years. The loss is driven by the long-term wind and solar energy contracts the city entered into, betting that fossil fueled-electricity prices would rise.

The opposite happened, and Georgetown’s municipal utility announced in late January it would increase customers’ bills about $13 a month to recover its bad bets. City officials are currently trying to renegotiate their long-term green energy contracts.

What about high-speed rail? The Green New Deal calls for investments in high-speed rail and other forms of mass transit to make airplanes, and the internal combustion engine itself, obsolete.

However, California put the brakes on its high-speed rail project that voters approved in 2008 to shuttle passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project, dubbed the “train to nowhere” by critics, was estimated to cost $77 billion to complete.

“Let’s level about the high-speed rail,” Newsom said in his State of the State address in February, announcing most of the project would be halted.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom elected governor of California REUTERS

“Let’s be real, the current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the state would complete the small, 119-mile section of high-speed rail between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Though, that line is not expected to be finished until 2022 at a cost of $89 million per mile.

Even electrified mass transit is proving difficult, at least in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday the city canceled its $133 million plan for an all-electric bus line through downtown.

Massive construction in downtown Albuquerque hurt local businesses, modernized bus stops were vandalized and the electric buses themselves were found to have flaws that made them unusable.

The city has sued the Chinese-owned electric vehicle manufacturer and contracted with another company for diesel buses, according to The Times.

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