A Free-Market Energy Blog

“Beto Is Putting Climate First” ($5 trillion for what?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 6, 2019

“The greatest threat we face — which will test our country, our democracy, every single one of us — is climate change. We have one last chance to unleash the ingenuity and political will of hundreds of millions of Americans to meet this moment before it’s too late.” (Robert O’Rourke, April 29, 2019)

Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke was facing criticism for being all meet-and-greet but with no ideas in his first month as a presidential nominee. “The big idea? Beto doesn’t have one,” opined David Siders at Politico. But a big idea would come two weeks later, supplementing the campaigner’s standard Obama-like fare of just favoring wind, solar, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris climate accord. [1]

O’Rourke was a closeted keep-it-in-the-ground, anti-fossil-fuel Progressive during his unsuccessful Texas campaign for the US Senate last year. But climate alarmism was featured:

Beto knows that climate change is the defining existential threat of our time. He believes we need to take action to address climate change to save this planet and keep our communities whole, to achieve energy independence, to secure a brighter future for our kids, and to fuel economic growth and jobs.

Beto’s Green New Deal

The now presidential candidate recently released a campaign position that is slightly less radical than the Green New Deal but outlandish and unworkable. Its only grace is a less ambitious target than the GND’s “greenhouse gas emissions neutral society by 2030.” (O’Rourke’s date is 2050.) Still, O’Rourke $5 trillion, 10-year plan qualifies as a Green New Deal, at least straight-energy-wise.

O’Rourke’s “most robust climate proposal of any 2020 presidential candidate,” has invited skepticism from the Left. “Beto O’Rourke will need to answer why he did not lead on climate change in Congress,” complained a writer in Mother Jones, asking whether his 10-year plan was just talk.

The answer is yes. If nominated, Beto would move to the middle to give himself a chance in Texas and other major energy-producing and energy-consuming states. Remember Al Gore in 2000 coming out against higher gasoline taxes? Remember Obama’s oil moment in Cushing, Oklahoma, when public angst over gasoline prices was high?

Welcome to the strange world where just about anything new with climate policy is risky politically, yet doing much is too little scientifically for the Progressive Left.

Here is the beginning preamble from Beto’s April 29th proposal, followed by his four-point plan (verbatim).

Climate change is the greatest threat we face — one which will test our country, our democracy, and every single one of us. The stakes are clear: We are living in a transformed reality, where our longstanding inaction has not only impacted our climate but led to a growing emergency that has already started to sap our economic prosperity and public health — worsening inequality and threatening our safety and security. If the American people elect me president, I plan to enact the following four-part plan immediately:

  • Implement ambitious Day One agenda to start cutting pollution immediately. 
  • Mobilize a historic $5 trillion over 10 years to combat climate change.
  • Achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and get halfway there by 2030. 
  • Defend communities preparing for and fighting climate impacts. 

“We won’t do it with half the country. We won’t do it with half measures,” O’Rourke concluded. “It’ll take all of us — wielding the full force of our democracy. Sign your name now to support our plan.”

Sign up? It’s contribution time, folks…. This carnival barker needs money.

————————————

[1] As reported by Politico’s Siders:

“On climate: rejoin the Paris climate agreement, Day One. On climate: reinstitute the Clean Power Plan. Make sure that we have higher standards for vehicle emissions for this country. Invest in wind and solar and other renewable energies that are also producing the highest growth and jobs in this country. Free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Help to convene the world around this problem because even if the United States did everything within its power, China has three to four times the number of coal-fired plants than we do. So we need to exert global leadership, once again return to being the indispensable nation.”

[2] O’Rourke’s preamble adds hyperbole to hyperbole:

  • Escalating Harm and Economic Imperative: The costs of climate change will measure in the tens of trillions of dollars, in lives lost, and livelihoods devastated and destroyed. We are the first generation to feel the climate crisis, and the last generation with the ability to avert its worst impacts.
  • Threatening the Health of our Children and Communities 60 million Americans live in a place where the water they drink is unsafe. 140 million Americans live where the air they breathe is unsafe. Our aging infrastructure and unchecked climate change will only make these unacceptable facts far worse.
  • Exacerbating Structural Inequality Climate change has a distressingly disproportionate impact on poor and minority communities across the United States and around the world. Race is the number one indicator for where toxic and polluting facilities are today.
  • Threatening Our National Security Climate change is exacerbating global conflicts, reversing social and economic progress, and driving families to migrate in order to escape disasters. The U.S. military has gone so far as to call climate change a threat multiplier, posing new and severe risks to troops and bases.

13 Comments


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