What is the Green New Deal?

Environmental proposal fails to go to debate, but could impact future


U.S. Senate Photographic Studio-Rebecca Hammel, US House of Representatives

Senator Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts and first-term Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez (D) of New York proposed the Green New Deal with the goal of sparking conversation about climate change, and providing a bold, innovative solution.

Abby Keene, Staff Writer

The United States Senate failed to earn the 60 votes needed to start debating the Green New Deal on March 26, 2019. Fifty-seven Senators voted not to debate the Green New Deal, while 42 declined  to vote and marked themselves as “present.” This was at the suggestion of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) because they did not believe the vote was being taken seriously, due to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) hostility toward the Green New Deal. However, this decision is likely not the end of the discussion about the Green New Deal.

The newly proposed Green New Deal has already led to many news stories, innumerable tweets, a controversial FAQ page on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez website and plenty of disagreement. But many students are left wondering what, exactly, it’s all about.

The Green New Deal was introduced on Feb. 7, 2019 by Senator Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts and first-term Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez (D) of New York, with the goal of sparking conversation about climate change, and providing a bold, innovative solution.

The deal was sponsored by half of the current Senators running for president in 2020 as well as many other government officials, and was even attempted to be put up for a vote in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.

The Green New Deal has caused both liberal and conservative commentators to debate logistics surrounding the proposal. Debates have become aggressive and intense, both sides making assumptions without facts.

But with all of the talk about the deal, what does it mean to those who didn’t read the 1,000 page proposal themselves? What is the Green New Deal (GND)?

Upgrading Infrastructure: Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez are planning to fund the renovation of an estimated 5.6 million buildings in the United States to make sure they can all achieve maximum energy efficiency, including your house. This is expensive, and there has been no thought about how the transition to energy efficiency in buildings will be paid for. When asked about how the 93 trillion dollar deal will be paid for, government officials simply respond to the questions with “We will get it done,” so there is some confusion in this area.

Federal Ownership of Business: Taxes will be raised to pay for the GND, so the plan is to provide the public with some sort of return on investment. Public ownership of business is a part of the return on investment, which is a controversial section of the GND. For further explanation, the section reads: “providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing), technical expertise, supporting policies, and other forms of assistance to communities, organizations, Federal, State, and local government agencies, and businesses working on the Green New Deal mobilization”

Cows: The deal explains that Congress will work with farmers to eliminate greenhouse emissions from their livestock. These emissions include a huge amount of methane and ⅓ of the worlds ammonia emissions along with over one hundred other toxic gases. According to Independent Co UK, the problem with these emissions, is they warm the earth twenty times faster than carbon dioxide. The issue is, believe it or not, it is nearly impossible to stop animals from farting, even if they are toxic…

Transportation: The Green New Deal plans to eliminate gas vehicles that release carbon emissions over ten years by replacing them with more energy efficient vehicles, like Elon Musk’s Tesla cars. Cars emit carbon dioxide, which strongly contributes to the greenhouse effect, in turn warming the earth at a faster rate. The plan also says the goal is to introduce high speed rail systems throughout the country, which will release zero emissions.

Renewable Energy: The goal is to continue to meet America’s needs when it comes to energy, but over 10 years, switch over to renewable sources. Examples include solar panels, hydropower, wind power and biofuel. These resources are constantly replenished and never will run out.

The switch to a “smart grid:” America does not have a uniform electric system, and the GND provides more funding than ever before for the switch to the smart grid, which would establish a uniform electric system across America. The Department of Energy currently provides 3.6 billion per year for progress in switching over to a smart grid, but according to Ocasio-Cortez and Markey, it is not nearly enough. The main goal of a smart grid is to provide accurate energy consumption data.

College and Trade School: Ocasio-Cortez and Markey plan to provide full federal funding for every person (citizen or non-citizen) living in the United States to attend college or trade school. The goal is by providing government-funded education, the return on investment will be great.

Job and Pay Guarantee: The deal lays out a goal of providing guaranteed jobs from the federal government, in areas such as energy, building and additional education jobs, with adjusted pay based on family size, and who the worker is supporting. For example, a household of one single person would not be given as much money as the household of a single parent. The proposal also explains that there will be adjustments to the federal minimum wage, which sits at $7.25.

Health Care: The health care section of the GND not only includes high quality health care paid for by the federal government, but also inexpensive organic food and clean water. It also mentions the plan to provide citizens access to free nature areas with clean air, this includes federally operated parks and hiking areas.

The Green New Deal also mentions issues such as environmental protection, the adjustment of trade deals and permission from Native Peoples to use land.

The Green New Deal is bold and sparks up conversation about climate change and living conditions in America, which is something that has not been addressed in a long time.

The main critiques of the GND are the way Americans would react the the huge changes in their lives, and how the 93 trillion dollar deal will be paid for. Ocasio-Cortez identifies as a Democratic-Socialist, so borrowing money from private investors is not an option in her opinion. We can’t just print money, because inflation would become an even bigger problem.

Ocasio-Cortez and Markey have failed to answer the payment question in full, responding with cutting military funding, as well as other government sections, but none of them seem like a solid decision on how the deal will be paid for.