By Paul Homewood
It’s largely gone under the radar on this side of the pond, but Joe Biden’s Green New Deal has just been decimated:
Faced with opposition from both Republicans and moderate Democrats, Biden has been forced to accept a watered down $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which leaves out most of his green reforms and spending, as well as his social programmes.
Green groups are naturally up in arms, with the Green Party putting out this statement:
The Green Party of the United States faults President Biden for putting the interests of Republicans and fossil fuel donors ahead of saving life on the planet in the new infrastructure stimulus legislation, largely excluding climate action in the deal.
“We are in a climate emergency, with time rapidly running out to avoid climate collapse. Sacrificing needed action on climate in order to get sign-off from the climate-denying Republicans and their hordes of special interest donors is a crime against humanity. Biden says he understands the need to halt fossil fuels but his actions continue to prove otherwise,” said Mark Dunlea, Co-chair of the Green Party’s EcoAction Committee.
Biden’s deal with the Republicans would spend most of the $579 billion allocated on expanding fossil fuel infrastructure (airports, freeways) over five years while promoting privatization. Greens advocate for much larger investments to expand and electrify mass transit.
Biden’s deal does not include investments in green energy jobs, funds to combat the climate crisis and it omitted programs supporting energy efficiency for buildings. Biden originally asked for $213 billion to improve the energy efficiency of homes and $100 billion for energy-efficient schools.
The Green Party also slammed the Biden administration’s decision to uphold permits issued to Enbridge Energy to construct the Line 3 pipeline to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands oil per day through untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of the Anishinaabe peoples in Minnesota. The Green Party EcoAction Committee is co-sponsoring a protest at the White House on June 30.
The decision was the latest in a series of actions taken by Biden to back Trump-era approvals of oil and gas infrastructure. Greens support the call for Biden to appoint anew commissioner to FERC (Federal Energy and Regulatory Emission) who supports stopping new fossil fuel projects.
The Green Party said that they will continue to advocate for a green economic stimulus package based on an ecosocialist Green New Deal, which Green candidates first campaigned for in 2010. The Green Party supports a $2.7 trillion annual investment in climate measures along with a $1.4 trillion annual investment in an Economic Bill of Rights, including a guaranteed living wage job, single-payer healthcare, housing and education.
Reuters report what is in the bill, of which you will notice “only” $549m is new money over eight years:
WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday embraced a bipartisan Senate deal to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure projects, building roads, bridges and highways and helping stimulate the economy.
Here are some of the details of the bipartisan framework released by the White House, valued at $1.2 trillion over eight years, $579 billion of which is new spending:
* Roads, bridges and other major projects: $109 billion
* Power infrastructure, including grid authority: $73 billion
* Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion
* Broadband infrastructure: $65 billion
* Water infrastructure, such as eliminating lead pipes: $55 billion
* Public transportation: $49 billion
* Resilience (preparing infrastructure for the impacts of climate change such as floods and other extreme weather events, and cyber attacks): $47 billion
* Airports: $25 billion
* Environmental remediation: $21 billion
* Creation of an Infrastructure Financing Authority focused on clean transportation and clean energy: $20 billion
* Ports, waterways: $16 billion
* Safety, including grants to add bike lanes and other steps to protect vulnerable road users: $11 billion
* Electric vehicle infrastructure, including chargers: $7.5 billion
* Electric buses, transit: $7.5 billion
* Western water shortage: $5 billion
I usually work on a ration of 10 to 1, when comparing US and UK GDP etc. So, in UK terms, the new money equates to about £5bn a year – in other words, pretty paltry stuff.
Worse still for the greens, most of the spending is on genuine infrastructure projects.
So, for instance, the spend of $7.5bn on EV charging infrastructure is really just spitting in the wind, as is a similar amount for electric buses. This is a far cry from the $174bn American Jobs Plan, which Biden promised to “win the EV market” from China, including by providing rebates for consumers, and incentives for manufacturers to retool factories to make batteries and EVs. The same Plan also promised $213bn, to build and retrofit 2 million homes and commercial buildings, plus another $100 for energy efficient schools. There is no money for that in the bipartisan agreement.
Although there is $73bn for power infrastructure, little of this will find its way into building the new renewable energy infrastructure which the greens want.
What we are seeing here is how climate policies are coming up against the immovable wall of cold, hard reality, when it comes to paying the bill.
There are hopes among the greens that the missing climate spending could be passed via the back door, in another bill or by budget reconciliation, but this seems unlikely, as moderate Democrats also appear opposed to it. There are, in any case, severe restrictions on the use of budget reconciliation, which effectively allows a majority vote in the Senate. The rules, for example, say that it cannot be used to increase spending, meaning that other parts of the budget would have to be cut. (More here.)
It is reckoned that Biden has just a year to get his green agenda through, as by this time next year campaigning for the Mid Terms will be underway. After those elections, the window may well be shut.
Biden has, of course, pledged to cut emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. Making it happen is quite another thing though.
Despite all his fine words, Obama did little more than kick the can down the road. Despite spending billions on renewable subsidies, renewable energy in the US still only amounts to 6% of total energy consumption.
Other countries are also finding it difficult to back up their words with action. Japan, for instance, has insisted it will still need fossil fuels for many years to come, while Canada and Norway have declared that they have no intention of shutting down their lucrative oil fields.
With Russia and the Arab states sticking their finger up at western interference, and Asia determined to look after their own self interest, increasingly we are finding that the UK and EU are becoming more and more isolated in their hair shirt agenda.
Let me finish with a prediction.
I have already forecast that COP26 will come up with little more than a few platitudes, but little in the way of concrete action in reducing emissions.
In ten years time, Prince (King?) Charles and the BBC will still be warning us we only have months to save the planet. And we will still be hearing the same arguments, demands for money and appeals for action at COP36.
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
July 1, 2021