A lot has already been said about the Green New Deal, including my favorite: “What planet is she on?” from Brian Kilmeade of FOX. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is on planet California, that’s where. The “green dream or whatever” as Nancy Pelosi dismissively called it, is being realized in her own home state.
Take cow flatulence. “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” was in the initial version of the resolution’s fact sheet. Ocasio-Cortez staffers, however, have since removed “farting” from the fact-sheet. Why not leave it in? In California, we’ve been there; tried that. In 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that required the state to cut methane emissions from dairy cows and other animals by 2030. Enforcement duties to curtail cow flatulence went to the Air Resources Board, even though short of herding the cows to some other state, they admitted that there was no known method for doing so.
Getting ridding of airplanes? California’s answer is High-Speed Rail. Passed by voters in 2008, the High-Speed Rail is supposed to build approximately 800 miles of track up and down the state, connecting the state’s largest cities with up to 24 different stations. With an anticipated cruising speed of 220 mph, the train is intended to provide Californians with a fast and convenient alternative to gas guzzling cars and airplanes. Costs have soared from the $33 billion voters approved to $77.3 billion – for now. If the plan moves forward – Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to scale back the project in this week’s State of the State address – California’s High-Speed Rail isn’t likely to carry its first passenger until 2033 or 2034, about 25 years since the idea was hatched. Ocasio-Cortez is right about one thing – 10 years isn’t enough time to get rid of planes.
Finally, there was the line (also now missing from the original) for providing economic security for those who are “unwilling to work.” Again – in California, been there; working on that. Stockton is the first in the country to experiment with Basic Income. The city plans to give away $500 of free money with no strings attached to 100 families. My fellow blogger Tim Anaya wrote about last year’s meeting between Stockton’s Mayor Michael Tubbs and Ocasio-Cortez to discuss Basic Income, never mind that the most socialist-leaning places in the world already gave up on the idea. These countries “realized that basic income schemes are too costly to sustain, don’t lift people out of poverty, and really are about paying people to do nothing,” wrote Anaya.
The legislative text of the resolution also mentioned replacing carbon-emitting electricity generation with wind, solar, and other renewables; upgrading residential and industrial buildings for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from production, and making “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export — all areas where California is ahead of the nation.
Roosevelt created the New Deal as a series of economic and social programs intended to lift America out of the Great Depression. While the state can certainly boast at being the leader of the Green New Deal movement, lost in all the of the excitement is one important fact: California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute