Biden’s Climate Change Agenda Is Inspired by AOC, California

Biden’s Climate Change Agenda Is Inspired by AOC, California

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden last week unveiled his version of the Green New Deal.  The plan, which can be summed up as AOC meets CA, shows just how far Biden is willing to lunge toward the left coast’s environmental agenda.

AOC’s Green New Deal, criticized for being light on the details but full of magical thinking, commits the U.S. to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the creation of millions of so-called clean jobs, big investments in clean industry and infrastructure such as public transit and high-speed rail, and huge federal support for R&D in no-carbon energy generation —  all at a cost of $10 trillion.

Biden’s plan also aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  But unlike AOC, he’s got the details down.  Reason’s Ronald Bailey boiled it down:  replace three million government vehicles with zero-emissions automobiles and trucks; build 500,000 electric charging stations nationwide; a cars-for-clunkers-type program for people to trade in their gas and diesel cars for EVs; subsidize the retrofit of energy efficiency features in four million buildings and weatherize two million homes over four years; require that new commercial buildings would have to meet a net-zero-emissions standard by 2030; subsidize the construction of 1.5 million energy-efficient homes and public housing units; give every city with 100,000 or more residents high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options by 2030; and create “the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world.”

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because California has been there, or working on that.  PRI’s Wayne Winegarden highlights in his study Legislating Energy Prosperity just a few of the 218 (and counting) energy efficiency regulations, incentives, and tax programs:

  • California must generate 100 percent of its electricity from zero-emission energy sources by 2045;
  • Buildings, equipment, and appliances must meet or exceed government mandated energy efficiency thresholds;
  • New homes in California must have a solar photovoltaic system as an electricity source by 2020
  • Automakers must reduce GHG emissions in cars by 34 percent by 2025;
  • California must achieve a 10 percent decline in the carbon intensity of all transportation fuels by 2020;
  • Hand out a $5,000 rebate for purchasers of electric cars; and
  • Construction of a high-speed train, whose distance has been ever shrinking.

Biden contends that his green program will spur millions of well-paying new jobs. The problem is that in California, for all its green initiatives, California has the highest poverty rate (18.1 percent) of any state in the nation, when adjusted for cost of living and noncash government benefits.  In addition to hindering jobs and growth, these policies, writes Winegarden, “dramatically increase the cost of living on families, contribute to the state’s poverty and homelessness crises, and discourage businesses and manufacturers from expanding their operations in California.”

California has long relied on the likes of Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona as escape valves from its bad policies.  But in a Biden administration, there will be no place to hide.

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.