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Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Your life, living standards, country and planet will take a big hit under the Green New Deal

Paul Driessen

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, AOC, the Democrat Party and US environmentalists are committed to making climate change, the Green New Deal, and replacement of fossil fuels with wind, solar, battery and biofuel power the centerpiece of their foreign and domestic policies.

They claim the transition would be easy, affordable, ecological, sustainable and painless. That’s ideology and fantasy, not reality.

Wind and sunshine are certainly clean and renewable. Harnessing them to power America is not.

The GND would hit American families, jobs, living standards and environmental quality hard. Western states would feel the brunt, because their fossil fuel rents, royalties, jobs and tax receipts would disappear, as drilling, fracking and coal mining on federal lands are closed down. Their open spaces, scenic vistas, wildlife habitats and wildlife would be desecrated by wind turbines, solar panels and transmission lines to serve distant urban voting blocs that dictate energy and land use decisions far beyond city lines.  

Coal, oil, natural gas and petroleum liquids still provide 80% of US energy. In 2018, they generated 2.7 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity – which would have to be replaced under an all-encompassing Green New Deal costing tens of trillions of dollars.

Another 2.7 billion MWh worth of natural gas powered factories, emergency power systems, and furnaces, ovens, stoves and hot water heaters in restaurants, homes and other buildings. Cars, trucks, buses, semi-trailers, tractors and other vehicles consumed the equivalent of yet another 2 billion MWh.

Altogether, that’s 7.4 billion megawatt-hours per year that the GND would have to replace! On top of that we’d need at least another 150 million MWh of wind and solar generating capacity to charge batteries over and over to maintain just one week of nationwide backup power, to avoid blackouts.

The more we try to do so, the more we’d have to put turbines and panels in low quality wind and solar sites, where they’d generate electricity only 15-20% of the year, 80-85% below “nameplate capacity.”

Of course, we could replace all this fossil fuel energy with nuclear power. But radical greens inside and outside the soon-to-be Biden Administration detest and oppose nuclear as much as they do fossil fuels.

That means this transformation to an all-electric nation would require millions of onshore wind turbines, thousands of offshore turbines, billions of solar panels, millions of vehicle battery modules, billions of backup energy storage battery modules, thousands of miles of new transmission lines, millions of charging stations, tens of billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, plastic, cobalt, rare earth elements and countless other materials – and digging up hundreds of billions of tons of overburden and ores!

If the United States and world could summon the will to mine, process and smelt enough metals and minerals – and manufacture, transport and install all those turbines, panels, batteries and transmission lines – the GND would require the greatest expansion of mining and manufacturing in human history.

But radical greens inside and outside of the Biden Administration detest and oppose US mining and manufacturing almost as much as they despise fossil fuels. That means we would have to go overseas for these essential metals and minerals – primarily to China and Russia, which have them within their boundaries or under their control in various African, Asian and Latin American nations.

They also have no reservation or hesitation about digging them up and processing them – without regard for child, slave or forced labor, workplace safety, air and water pollution, mined land reclamation or any other standards that we insist on in America. And it’s highly unlikely that Team Biden would demand that those countries implement such standards – or that it would refuse to import the metals, minerals and finished “green” technologies unless China, Russia and their foreign subsidiaries abide by our rules and regulations. The entire GND (and much more) would collapse without those unethical raw materials.

Moreover, nearly all this mining, processing and manufacturing would require gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal in those foreign countries, because those operations cannot be conducted with wind, solar and battery power. The fossil fuel use and emissions would take place outside the United States, but would not go away. Indeed they would likely double or triple. The carbon dioxide emissions would increase global atmospheric levels and, Team Biden insists, worsen climate chaos and extreme weather.

In fact, most wind, solar and battery mining, processing and manufacturing already take place overseas, under few or nonexistent workplace safety, fair wage, child labor and environmental laws. Some 40,000 Congolese children labor alongside their parents, for a couple dollars a day, while exposed constantly to toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air, to meet today’s cobalt needs. Imagine the GND toll.

Replacing oil and gas for petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics would require importing those feed stocks, as well – or planting millions of acres in canola, soybean and other biofuel crops. The water, fertilizer, pesticide, tractor, harvester, processing and transportation requirements would be astronomical.

All that work, and all those industrial facilities, would impact hundreds of millions of acres of scenic areas, food crop lands and wildlife habitats. Raptors, other birds, bats, and forest, grassland and desert dwellers would suffer substantial losses or be driven into extinction.

Most of those impacts would also occur in Midwestern and Western America, far from the voting centers and suspicious voting patterns that put Team Biden in office. But as they say, out of sight, out of mind – in someone else’s backyards.

The GND would also mean ripping out perfectly good natural gas appliances, replacing them with electric models, installing rapid charging systems for vehicles, and upgrading household, neighborhood and national electrical systems to handle the extra loads – costing more trillions of dollars.

Families, factories, hospitals, schools and businesses accustomed to paying 7-11¢ per kilowatt-hour for electricity would pay 14-22¢ per kWh, as they already do in “green” US states – or even the 35¢ that families now pay in Germany. Once they use more than some arbitrary “maximum baseline” amount of electricity per month, they will pay closer to 45¢ per kWh, as families already do in California.

How companies will survive, how many jobs will disappear, how many families will join the ranks of those who must choose between heating and eating – is anyone’s guess.

GND technologies are nearly 100% dependent on metals and minerals from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Chinese companies in Africa and Latin America. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop underscore concerns that America’s foreign, defense and domestic policies would be held hostage, while certain well-connected politicians, families and wind, solar, battery and biofuel companies get rich.

All these issues require open, robust debate – which too many schools and universities, news and social media outlets, corporate and political leaders, and Antifa thugs and arsonists continue to censor and cancel. That censorship and silencing must end before any votes or other actions are taken on any Green New Deal. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

Big Media and Big Tech are conspiring with Democrats, Greens and other authoritarian elements to shut down any and all discussion by anyone who does not support their agendas. Others are moving to persecute and prosecute President Trump and anyone associated with his administration and policies.

As anger and frustration build among the increasingly disenfranchised, America and the world could be heading into a frightening future indeed.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books, reports and articles on energy, environmental, climate and human rights issues.

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Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Jan 24, 2021

I largely agree. But as an old Biophysicist I have very different Green New Deal intent from the urban Green ignorant.

First, the current old politicos got their start under President Jimmy Carter. A scold from the 1970s. Full of free money promises that led to 20% interest rates, Carter got nothing good done. I spent that time lugging pounds of computer programming punch cards, and sitting in campus libraries squinting at huge research index books then lugging huge research publication books on topics such as Genetics, Biochemistry/Chemistry, Physics. VP Walter Mondale's Minnesota was a tough place to be a grad student. I pushed a fiber optic super-network in a super-computer state.

I'll be pushing fiber-glass roofing for passive air conditioning and solar harvesting to make solar bio-fuel and bio-char. And I like the new $100 Raspberry Pi 400 Linux computer. And I hope to still protect birds, water, air, habitat, from junk cars and junk windmills.

For me, to have a constructive Green science intent requires avoiding political news. Shocking.

Peter Farley's picture
Peter Farley on Jan 26, 2021

Given that all the experts from the EIA the IEA , BP and Lazards show that wind and solar are far cheaper than gas, coal and nuclear and grids around the world like Germany, Spain, South Australia are approaching or exceeding 50% renewables while reducing wholesale power prices, your unsubstantiated rant is just wrong.
Even if German consumers do pay 35c/kWh much of that in taxes, the government has had complementary policies for many years to ensure housing and appliance efficiency so the average German consumer pays a significantly smaller share of income in electricity bills than the typical American household.
Further wind and solar power in the US from future wind and solar farms can be produced for a little over a third the historical cost in Germany, because
a) your wind and solar resources are 20-50% better than Germany,
b) wind energy costs have have fallen 60% and solar 90% since the initial boom in renewable installations in Germany
c) tracking solar with excess DC/AC ratios and wind turbines with extra large rotors on tall towers mean that the periods of overlap between wind and solar are longer and the periods of low combined wind and solar are shorter, so the duration of backup is probably 1/10th of some of the estimates thrown around by so called analysts
c) permitting costs and land rents are much lower in the US

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 26, 2021

Further wind and solar power in the US from future wind and solar farms can be produced for a little over a third the historical cost in Germany, because
a) your wind and solar resources are 20-50% better than Germany,
b) wind energy costs have have fallen 60% and solar 90% since the initial boom in renewable installations in Germany
c) tracking solar with excess DC/AC ratios and wind turbines with extra large rotors on tall towers mean that the periods of overlap between wind and solar are longer and the periods of low combined wind and solar are shorter, so the duration of backup is probably 1/10th of some of the estimates thrown around by so called analysts
c) permitting costs and land rents are much lower in the US

Thanks for sharing these insights Peter-- an important reminder that there's no broadstroke brush that should be used in this space. Some countries can rely heavily on hydro or geothermal, others don't have those resources available. Fuel prices vary by country, etc. Each situation is unique and must be assessed independently-- definitely take lessons learned from other countries, but recognize the limitation of such comparisons. 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Jan 28, 2021

Paul - interesting article.  Curios if you can reference how you came to some of your numbers?  Also, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on how this will impact utilities in the US.  You mention the impact on the ratepayers, but what about the Utilities themselves.  The other day, I saw an article that a PUC is suing a utility for not hitting their marks converting to renewable power and meeting customer expectations.  Could this be an issue if expectations are too high for utilities to meet?  Are we setting expectations that are not realistic for the transition?  What could be a reasonable middle ground solution?  

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