Democratic Congresswoman’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal has been in mainstream media headlines ever since the congresswoman first introduced it and members of Congress and political pundits in mainstream media continue to debate its merits. They argue whether the proposal—which would bring sweeping social and infrastructural changes to America—would actually work.
So, would it? Definitely not, Forbes Contributor Michael Shellenberger reports, as the truth behind the proposal is that it has already been tested and it failed in dramatic fashion.
The environmental proposal which aims at reducing the human impact on the changing climate was tested in New Hampshire, Shellenberger wrote in a report for Forbes, where it actually increased carbon emissions.
“The Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) today excludes nuclear energy from the proposed mix. If it were ever actually attempted nationally, it would increase greenhouse gas emissions — just as a similar effort did in Vermont,” the report notes.
Here’s more from Forbes:
Vermont is home to Ocasio-Cortez allies, and Green New Deal advocates, Senator Bernie Sanders and climate activist Bill McKibben. Both insist the world can be powered on renewables alone. But consider what’s actually happened in their own state.
In 2005, Vermont legislators promised to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2012, and 50% below 1990 levels by 2028, through the use of renewables and energy efficiency only.
Forbes’ Shellenberger reports that it was not Vermont that failed to adequately implement the proposal, but that the proposal itself is flawed because of how it treats nuclear energy.
“Did Vermont fail to do energy efficiency, which the Green New Deal and green groups like Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claim is the most important way to reduce emissions? Nope,” the Forbes report continued. “In 2018, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Vermont among the top five states for aggressive action on energy efficiency — for the fifth year in a row.”
Shellenberger also reports the rising emissions came from the closure of Vermont’s sole nuclear plant, Vermont Yankee.
Its closure required the state to draw energy from out-of-state sources, which utilized fossil fuels:
One influential local voice loudly opposing continued operation of the nuclear plant belonged to the climate activist Bill McKibben. “I’ve been opposed to Vermont Yankee for a long time,” McKibben wrote in 2012. “I believe Vt. is completely capable of replacing (and far more) its power output with renewables, which is why my roof is covered with solar panels.”
Pro-nuclear environmentalists disagreed. In a highly-detailed 2010 analysis they warned that the closure of Vermont Yankee would increase emissions.
McKibben was unmoved. In a 2013 debate at Vermont’s Middlebury College with pro-nuclear filmmaker Robert Stone, McKibben told the crowd, “We don’t need nuclear power.”
Vermont’s rising emissions prove that it did. Had Vermont’s utilities supplied its customers with power from Vermont Yankee instead of from out-of-state fossil electricity, nearly half of the state’s increase in emissions since 1990 could have been avoided.
“In reality, Vermont’s utilities couldn’t replace with in-state generation the lost electricity from Vermont Yankee, instead turning to electricity imports from the New England power pool, primarily from natural gas,” the report continued.
So it needs more solar panels and windmills in the state, right? They tried. The report notes that the construction of a large wind farm in Vermont took nearly a decade to finish because its construction “is sited in the middle of critical black bear habitat.”
Should all wind farms take that long to finish, the number of farms necessary to replace the annual quantity of electricity from the Vermont Yankee (a small nuclear plant) would not be completed until 2491, Forbes reports.
Check it out:
Can you guess how many wind farms the size of Deerfield would be needed in order to replace the annual quantity of electricity from Vermont Yankee, one of the smallest nuclear plants remaining in the U.S. when it was closed? The answer is 59.
At the Deerfield rate of deployment, Vermont will make up for the clean energy lost from the closure of Vermont Yankee some time around the year 2491.