While most people’s attention was focused on the presidential election or battling the coronavirus and struggling to survive the economic shutdown the pandemic inspired most states’ governors to impose, swamp creatures in the U.S. House of Representative have been working behind the scenes to impose more inside-the-beltway big-government mandates and subsidies on U.S. energy markets.
On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rammed through HR 4447, the Clean Economy, Jobs, and Innovation Act, without any hearings or real debate. No congressmen had time to read the entire 900-page monstrosity before a final vote was taken. Like Obamacare, Pelosi thought it better to “pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.”
A statement of policy offered by the White House Office of Management and Budget said it would recommend President Donald Trump veto the bill, because the bill “would implement a top-down approach that would … empower the government to select favored solutions [and] lead to higher energy costs and discourage innovation and entrepreneurship.”
HR 4447 is nothing more nor less than a down payment on the multitrillion-dollar, socialist, Green New Deal (GND). Like the GND, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s energy proposal, HR 4447 sets a goal for the country to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Also, like the GND, HR 4447 would require every federal agency to make “environmental justice,” central to its mission. The bill would establish a 26-person Environmental Justice Advisory Council to “ensure the ‘fair treatment’ of different groups based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status,” in part by incorporating environmental justice considerations into the already cumbersome National Environmental Policy Act review process.
It often takes years for critical infrastructure projects—such as bridges, pipelines, power lines, sewage lines, and roads—to get through the federal approval process, let alone built. And that is when the process is supposedly based solely on scientific and economic considerations—things that can be calculated, measured, and compared with some degree of objectivity. The process will become much more subjective, onerous, lengthy, and vulnerable to special-interest influences when amorphous, politically charged concepts such as “fairness” and “environmental justice” are made integral to it.
Even more projects will be delayed or cancelled, unable to get through the extensive and expensive process, which may be the point. Cancelled projects, or projects never proposed, don’t produce carbon dioxide emissions because they don’t create jobs or stimulate economic growth. Radical environmentalists have long called for an end to economic growth, and this bill would be a down payment on that goal.
In addition, although Democrats regularly chant or carry placards with the phrase “Follow the Science,” they inserted a provision in the bill that replaces science with mob-rule. HR 4447 would implement a new “community-based science” model unleashing “voluntary public participation in the scientific process.”
As the Washington Examiner describes, “This means that instead of allowing scientists to have the final say in conducting experiments, collecting data, interpreting results, and developing new technologies, the so-called ‘party of science’ would let everyone have a say. They call it the ‘democratization of science.’”
HR 4447 also contains provisions long sought by the powerful, taxpayer-funded wind, solar, and electric car lobbies. For instance, the bill would have federal taxpayers pony up $36 billion for the federal government to purchase electric vehicles and build electric charging stations across the nation.
Democrats’ big giveaway to the wind and solar lobbies comes in the form of a federal renewable energy mandate (REM), requiring the production of not less than 25 gigawatts of electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects by not later than 2025, on public lands.
For more than a century, states have had control over the power systems within their borders. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of REM.
Because REMs impose higher energy costs on residents and businesses in the states that have adopted them and cause significant environmental and public health harms, 21 states have rejected REMs.
Now, House Democrats would impose, for the first time ever, a national REM, saddling states that have said they don’t want REMs with one dictated by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats.
The aim of any energy legislation should be to deliver cheaper, more reliable energy, and to ensure America’s energy security and economic growth. Meeting those goals requires reducing the mandates, taxes, and subsidies that distort market incentives and innovation. HR 4447 does just the opposite, imposing greater intervention in energy markets through subsidies and mandates that support “politically correct” energy sources.
If Pelosi’s big green energy grab-bag bill ever reaches the president’s desk, whoever that president is, he or she should put the American people first and veto it.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.([email protected])is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
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