The Stealth Green New Deal

As negotiations continue on a year-end government funding bill as well as a new round of coronavirus relief spending, bad energy policy is looking to hitch a ride. The zombie Manchin-Murkowski energy bill, which we call the American Energy Bureaucracy Act, has staggered back into the picture. In the fall, the bill got even worse after an agreement was reached to enrich big corporations at the expense of small businesses and individual consumers. A marriage of corporate bootleggers and green Baptists, with regular Americans forced to foot the bill.

The word on the street is that there are negotiations taking place to try and jam a pre-negotiated energy bill into the year-end spending bonanza. AEA obtained a page from the discussion draft that appears to include a provision from the House Green New Deal lite version of energy legislation, H.R. 4447, making is a “Sense of Congress” that calls for 100% of power demand to come from “clean, renewable, or zero-emission” energy sources. While these terms are conveniently not defined, from the wider messaging of environmental activists we know what they mean by that: replace electricity from natural gas and coal with expensive, unreliable wind and solar power. If included, this amounts to a backdoor 100% renewables mandate, snuck into a huge omnibus spending bill that they hope no one notices.

Forcing renewables onto the grid raises electricity costs and makes the grid less reliable. We only have to look at what has happened repeatedly this year in California to see the 100% renewable future: rolling power cuts at times of high demand and low renewable generation. And the California disaster is with a grid that is only partially renewable. Imagine facing power shortages because of dependence on renewables and deciding that we should become even more dependent on renewables.

This 100% provision “Sense of Congress” makes no sense whatsoever. Putting Congress on record supporting 100% renewables is a major statement of policy. It cannot be tacked onto a massive spending bill with no discussion or debate. Perhaps the drafters (and we call on you to reveal yourselves) wanted to make it sound bland, but the very vagueness of the language is especially dangerous. This provision basically gives the Secretary of Energy a blank check authorization from Congress to impose 100% renewables in whatever way he can.

If this is the sort of radical language being included in the energy package, then it needs to be debated and voted on as separate legislation, not slipped into a large take-it or leave it spending bill. A major disruption of America’s energy system cannot come from a backroom deal. Once again, Congress is showing why the American people have so much distrust in their institutions. Congress should scrap this backroom deal and go back and watch Schoolhouse Rock.

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