When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., unveiled the Green New Deal in February, they instantly changed the conversation on environmental policy. What in times past would be generally perceived as an intrusive, radically transformative proposal is now the center of Democratic Party's platform.
Power the Future and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have released a joint study showing households in five states can expect tens of thousands of dollars in higher costs for energy, housing, transportation, and shipping if this proposal is implemented.
Despite the astronomical costs, many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the proposal, claiming the radical blueprint to ration energy and transform our economy is exactly what America needs. No longer is it “climate change” but “climate emergency” or even “climate crisis.” As such, small measures are unwelcome to Green New Deal supporters. Only the most radical environmental proposals, paired with a liberal wish list including single-payer health care, a jobs program, and decarbonization of the economy within a decade could possibly be enough.
Never let a "crisis" go to waste, indeed.
But most have seen from the beginning what the Green New Deal really is – a big-government spending boondoggle and a threat to American freedoms, once again justified under the guise of environmentalism. But what does it cost?
The framework rolled out by Ocasio-Cortez neglected to include any financial estimate of its implementation. Since it is a resolution, not an actual bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has never estimated the costs of the proposal.
Some organizations have estimated the total costs of the plan, with the American Action Forum finding that at the high end, it would cost up to $93 trillion. Green New Deal supporters quickly lambasted that number.
At a minimum, the Green New Deal would impose enormous and recurring costs on American households. We conclude that in four of the five states analyzed, the Green New Deal would cost a typical household more than $70,000 in the first year of implementation, approximately $45,000 for each of the next four years, and more than $37,000 each year thereafter.
Our study sought to understand the costs of implementing just part of the Green New Deal. To do this accurately, our analysis focused on minimum cost rather than total cost. Specifically, we looked at the costs associated with additional electricity demand, changes to the shipping and logistics industry, acquisition of Green New Deal-compatible vehicles, and the costs to retrofit buildings. We limited our research to a manageable five states representing diverse geographies: Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
At a minimum, the Green New Deal would impose enormous and recurring costs on American households. We conclude that in four of the five states analyzed, the Green New Deal would cost a typical household more than $70,000 in the first year of implementation, approximately $45,000 for each of the next four years, and more than $37,000 each year thereafter. In Alaska, estimated costs are much higher: more than $100,000 in year one, $73,000 in the subsequent four years, and more than $67,000 each year thereafter.
While our analysis requires several assumptions, given that proponents of the Green New Deal have not given, nor been pushed to provide, much detail about their plans beyond the resolution, the sum of our analysis does not give hope to any Green New Deal advocates. It does not include a host of expensive government programs included in the Green New Deal, such as single-payer health care and guaranteed jobs, among many others, as these are nearly impossible to accurately estimate costs. Furthermore, the Green New Deal is reliant on technologies that have not yet been invented, and such science fiction is impossible to calculate. How would we measure what doesn’t even exist?
Yet even without these immeasurable costs, our Green New Deal analysis can best be described as this: unfathomably overwhelming. The Green New Deal would drive the American economy into a complete economic depression.
The true cost of the Green New Deal is well north of our findings. Our report represents a “floor” of expectations for the costs associated with the implementation of the Green New Deal in the short- to medium-term. A basic takeaway is this: even once implemented and all energy retrofits, upgrades, and transitions happen, life itself becomes very expensive under the Green New Deal.
Regardless of the urgency, or lack thereof, of the climate issue, the Green New Deal is not something America can remotely afford to implement. Such an unserious proposal leads one to surmise its authors and proponents do not take climate change seriously either.
Kent Lassman is President and CEO of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank. Follow him on Twitter at @KentatCEI.