On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced that the U.S. will cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2030. The pledge marked a radical about-face from the Trump administration’s prioritization of poverty reduction, economic growth, and U.S. energy dominance over GHG emissions. It is also twice the size of the Obama administration’s pledge to cut emissions by 25%, which already impossible to achieve without a complete remaking of the U.S. economy. The only sector that reduced carbon emissions from 2008-2016 was electric utilities, and in fact, transportation emissions went up 1.9% in 2016.
President Biden’s climate and infrastructure plan is expected to cost taxpayers $2 trillion, or $3,500 for the average taxpayer. This is a huge expense, especially when it does not factor in the cost of higher energy bills (an inevitable result of increasing renewable energy), retrofitting our homes for electric heating and appliances, and more expensive cars to meet fuel efficiency mandates.
According to a study conducted by Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago and profiled in the Wall Street Journal, this new climate plan will cost the poor the most and the wealthy the least. In this study, the U.S. population was divided into five income cohorts, and the conclusion was that the combination of consumer regulations, labor regulations, and restrictions on energy production would cost the bottom group 15.3% of their income; however, it will only cost the highest group 2.1% of their income. So much for President Biden’s rallying cries for equity.
In 2020, 46% of Germany’s electricity came from renewable energy. Germany has some of the highest energy prices in the world, in part because of its renewable energy surcharge tax. German households pay 36 cents per kilowatt hour, including the surcharge tax , whereas U.S. households pay 15 cents per kilowatt hour on average. If President Biden’s plan is put into place, the U.S. should expect to see energy prices more like Germany’s, or even higher.
President Biden prides himself on his new plan being better for the environment, but he fails to mention how his “green” plan would drastically change the landscape of America. Achieving an all-renewable electric grid by 2050 would potentially require the U.S. to install up to 1.1 million square kilometers’ worth of solar panels, wind farms, and biomass powerplants, which is enough land to cover six whole states (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and West Virginia). The effect of this buildout would cause irreversible damage to our ecosystems, destroy our beautiful rural landscapes and displace many American families and even wildlife.
People need energy to live and prosper, so even if the U.S. stops producing fossil fuels under President Biden’s plan, our energy needs will not go away. And as the recent blackouts in Texas show, wind and solar can’t be relied on to provide all, or even most, of our electricity. The U.S. will just have to import energy from other countries, which causes more pollution and more global carbon emissions than producing energy here. In fact, shipping U.S. natural gas to Europe produces significantly less greenhouse gases than importing gas a quarter of the distance from North Africa.
President Biden’s plan irreversibly damages the U.S. economy and landscape with little reward. If this plan is put into place, it is far more likely that we will see an increase in poverty, rather than improvement in our environment.
This commentary originally appeared in The Cannon Online on May 13, 2021.