If you like the Green New Deal championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you’ll love the Clean Energy Jobs bill now moving through the Illinois General Assembly. Indeed, folks at the edge who think even the Green New Deal is too soft are cheering Illinois’ move to add force of law behind the same concepts.
The Green New Deal calls for America to switch to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years. To get there, it would employ means that accomplish a range of other social goals, including affordable housing, good health care, unionized labor, family-sustaining wages, protection of indigenous people, quality education and more.
Though supported by many on the left, the Green New Deal has been ridiculed widely even by some environmentalists for, among other reasons, its astronomical cost, which unquestionably would be in the trillions. One estimate puts it at $93 trillion.
But the Green New Deal is just a nonbinding resolution, as left-leaning Vox lamented. And, it added, “we haven’t seen much in the way of climate policies that address social justice.”
Enter the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Bill. Companion bills are now pending in the Illinois House and Senate. It’s a 365-page monstrosity of bureaucratic overreach, unhinged social engineering, climate extremism and reckless disregard for cost. It has broad sponsorship by lawmakers and methodically organized support from the renewable energy industry.
Its central goals are 100 percent carbon-free electricity production by 2030 and 100 percent renewable everything across the state by 2050. Importantly, that means the 2050 goal precludes even nuclear energy. Though the Green New Deal calls for 100 percent renewables in just 10 years, Illinois’ target of 2050 could also be catastrophically expensive. Even a Greenpeace co-founder wrote recently, “You are delusional if you think fossil fuels will end anytime soon, maybe in 500 years.”
Natural gas would be history. Those gas ranges, furnaces and the rest would have to be ripped out over the next 30 years. The entire natural gas infrastructure, pipelines and all, would be abandoned.
The bill calls for 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines alongside $20 billion in new infrastructure over the next decade. One million gas and diesel vehicles would come off Illinois roads.
Meanwhile, record amounts of relatively clean natural gas, produced alongside oil, are already being flared off because it has gotten so cheap. The United States stands poised to displace Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer and become energy self-sufficient.
The bill is loaded with social justice goals. There are tedious requirements for a Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs Program; “environmental justice communities”; workforce and training including soft skills and math to ensure communities of color, returning citizens, foster care communities and others understand clean energy and related apprenticeships; stipends for jobs and apprenticeships, including funding for transportation and child care; access to low-cost capital for disadvantaged clean-energy businesses and contractors; and much, much more.
What’s most annoying is sheer indifference to cost, which is probably immeasurable anyway given the bill’s vast complexity. Don’t expect to find an estimate anywhere. National critics of the Green New Deal immediately asked about cost, but in Illinois, it just doesn’t matter. Count on Illinoisans somehow paying a share of those multitrillion-dollar cost estimates for the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal excites the left, wrote a Washington Post columnist, “but that name is a misnomer. ‘World War G’ would be more accurate because the plan commits the United States to an endless, unwinnable global quagmire.”
Congress won’t actually authorize that war, but Illinois is marching blindly into it.
Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints, an independent research and commentary organization.