Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal: ‘Plant Lots of Trees’
The non-binding resolution is long on vague goals and short on specifics.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) released her much anticipated Green New Deal (co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on NPR on Thursday morning. The six-page non-binding resolution outlines “a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic and prosperity for all.”
Here’s a look at what’s in it—and what’s not:
There are very few specific environmental goals outlined.
Those listed offer no specifics and have a pie-in-the-sky feel: “Move America to 100% clean and renewable energy;” “clean air and water;” “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions;” “invest in infrastructure;” and the extremely vague “promote justice.”
These are followed by more vague, sometimes bizarre suggestions to achieving these goals, including: upgrading or replacing every building in the country; meeting 100% of power needs with clean energy (without any timeline specified); making air travel obsolete; completely replacing current transportation methods with green ones.
That—and “Plant lots of trees.”
There is a Q-and-A section that reads like a shrug and dodge.
It features questions like “Does this include a carbon tax?” (maybe), “Does this include cap and trade?” (maybe), and “How will you pay for it?” (“The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars”—extending credit).
On questions of how this will be financed and whether new taxes will be needed, the authors describe the impact only as “tiny.”
Ocasio-Cortez and Markay view the Green New Deal as their “moonshot.”
The plan calls this our generation’s “moonshot,” pointing out that “Americans love a challenge.” It goes on to cite how political leaders in the past aimed for seemingly impossible goals and were able to overcome them, including Eisenhower building the interstate highway system and FDR getting “laughed at” for calling on the country to build 185,000 planes during World War II.
They could have benefited from a copy-editor. One line presumably meant to be inspirational—“JFK said we’d go to the by the end of the decade, people said impossible”—was missing a few words, like “moon.”
It wants to solve all problems.
The environment certainly intersects with other social issues, such as health care, the economy, infrastructure, and education. But the Green New Deal veers into panacea territory—promising to create “millions of family supporting-wage jobs” and fix healthcare issues caused by climate change and pollution. It relies on buzzword salads like this pledge to “ensure justice and equity for frontline communities by prioritizing investment, training, climate and community resiliency, economic and environmental benefits in these communities.”
Ultimately, there is no plan.
The Green New Deal throws around a ton of bright-eyed goals for the environmental-economic future, promising to marry two ends of the political and economic spectrum—people worried about the environment and people worried that worrying about the environment will cost money—without an actionable blueprint. There are barely any numbers to show how this can all be accomplished and the document is full of dreamy statements that sound like an empty campaign promise.
“Simply banning fossil fuels and nuclear plants immediately won’t build the new economy to replace it—this is the plan to build that new economy and spells out how to do it technically,” the document states at one point.
In fact, the Green New Deal resolution issued Thursday fails to do just that.