By Congressman Andy Barr
Imagine going to turn on the lights in your home to find there is no power or rushing a loved one to the emergency room not knowing whether the life-saving medical equipment will work. If Congress adopts impractical policies in response to climate change, this could be our reality.
The strength and reliability of our power grid is something we have come to expect. Decades of research and development have created a power generation system that is dependable and reliable. That reliability is vital to the economic well-being of our nation, and yet this power grid resiliency is often taken for granted.
While the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change has found a lack of scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of climate change, I am not a climate change denier. But, how we respond to it should be the result of a thoughtful and deliberative process.
The proposed Green New Deal (GND) fails to acknowledge the importance of fossil fuels and, instead, aims to eliminate their usage in ten years, forcing Americans to depend exclusively on intermittent and unreliable sources of renewable energy.
This would be particularly problematic for Kentucky, where coal delivers 83% of our power and provides thousands of jobs. Today, Kentuckians enjoy some of the cheapest electricity rates in the country. Nationally, our country’s energy mix is approximately 80% fossil fuels, but only 5% intermittent sources such as solar and wind. To put this in perspective, electricity generated from just one Kentucky coal mine can produce the equivalent electricity of nearly one third of the nation’s entire solar industry or the equivalent of 5,400 wind turbines.
So, a precipitous and careless retreat from fossil fuel consumption would not only stifle economic growth, it would push the United States into another Great Depression, devastating household budgets and dramatically increasing energy costs. That is why I invited the sponsor of the GND, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) to Kentucky to see the real world impacts her policy proposal would have on our communities.
The GND also includes trillions of dollars in big government programs that are totally unrelated to the environment. Provisions like single-payer healthcare and universal job guarantees would devastate our economy and cost taxpayers trillions. It is estimated that the total cost of the GND could reach $93 trillion or up to $600,000 per household. Currently, the only proposals to pay for it include a massive tax increase that would cover only a fraction of its costs.
Socialism and central planning have never and will never solve the problems of the human race. But, innovation and technological advances fueled by free enterprise have and will continue to provide the best solutions to our most difficult challenges. Our goal should not be to promote the most green energy. Our goal should be to promote the best energy, the most effective energy, the most reliable energy, and the most affordable energy.