Opinion | Susan Knopf: Trump’s wall stalemate blocking progressive ideas
For the record
“I hope the Democrats will come to the table. I mean, right now, they’re just saying no, they won’t even come to the negotiating table,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-AZ.
What? They passed a bipartisan bill to reopen the government, despite the fact the president is threatening to veto. The president walked away from the table. Who won’t come to the table?
The Democrats apparently know something the president doesn’t. Taxpayers don’t want to spend $5.7 billion of their money on a wall. For the record, the majority of Americans don’t support the wall. According to the latest Politico poll, 54 percent are against building the wall, and 65 percent say the president shouldn’t shut down the government to secure funding for the wall. The majority of Americans do not believe there is a crisis on the border.
For the record, Texans don’t want the wall the president proposes to erect on their land. Even as surveyors go to work on the 33 miles of fencing approved by Congress in March, Texans are lawyering up and vowing to reject buyout offers, and to fight threats of government seizure of their land through eminent domain.
What surprises me is what people will spend their money on. In the last Congress, bipartisan bills were floated that would require us to pay more taxes — carbon taxes — in the hope that we would reduce our carbon footprint. Everything I read about these bills surprised me, and the bills are expected to come up again in this Congress. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman endorsed the idea of taxing carbon as a part of a sweeping “Green New Deal,” which he first proposed in 2007.
Newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is leading the fight for energy independence with America using entirely renewable energy resources in 12 years! What’s surprising is more than 15 representatives are joining her, including our own Rep. Joe Neguse, as well as several senators. Supporters come from surprisingly conservative places, like John Lewis of Georgia, and Chellie Pingree from Maine, who said, “We don’t need another report to tell us climate change is a threat to our health, environment and economy.”
The congresswoman says warming ocean temperatures are hurting her state’s lobster industry.
“The Green New Deal is an economic stimulus package aimed at mitigating climate change. It seeks to create green jobs by shifting the nation’s energy use to fossil fuel alternatives within ten years of its passage,” according to Pingree’s congressional webpage.
The doubting Thomas brigade is hard at work, but the ideas of the Green New Deal are already in motion in the private sector. Xcel Energy touts on its website that 27 percent of its energy production came from renewables last year. That’s up 300 percent from 2005. The company projects 48 percent of its energy will come from renewables by 2022. That’s three years from now. Xcel says it’s on track to achieve 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.
Fox News says the Green New Deal would ban fossil fuels by 2030 and that it will add trillions of dollars in debt. Not true! No legislation has been brought to the floor, thus we can’t know what the legislation might do.
The proposals are in their infancy. Poo-pooing ideas that aren’t even out of the gate gives you an idea of just how fearful the political right is that these seemingly radical ideas might in fact be ideas whose time has come. Or should we say the coal, oil and gas industries are afraid they are about to become as archaic as dinosaurs? The internal combustion engine is more than 100 years old. Isn’t it time for a change?
When Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is asked about her radical ideas, she says our nation is founded on radical ideas like Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and FDR’s Social Security (I wish she said freedom of speech!) She asked on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “What is the problem with trying to push our technology capacity to the furthest extent possible?”
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act can be seen as a forerunner of the more ambitious Green New Deal. The act was introduced by bipartisan representatives last month during the last congress and is expected to be reintroduced in this session. According to Sen. Chris Coons, “The legislation places a gradually rising upstream fee on the carbon content of fuels. This will create market-driven demand for cleaner energy technologies and correct market distortions created by the negative externality of pollution. The fee is assessed once, upstream, and starts at $15 per metric ton of CO2. It increases by $10 each year.” The proposed fees collected are rebated as dividends to taxpayers with social security numbers and tax IDs. The rebates begin the month before the proposed tax goes into effect to mitigate rising costs associated with the tax.
Yesterday in his State of the State Address, Gov. Jared Polis said, “ … Our commitment to reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 is not just about climate change. It’s about saving money for consumers with cheaper energy, and it’s about making sure the good-paying green jobs of the future are created right here in Colorado. … As governor, my goal is to lead the statewide transition to a clean, sustainable and growing economy. It is imperative for our climate, our security, our health and our economic growth for all Coloradans.”
Polis lauded Summit County’s commitment to 100 percent renewables by 2035. He said the path to a green economy means modernizing electrical grid infrastructure and regulatory processes, electric cars, buses and trucks. Polis didn’t mention the condition of our roads, badly in need of improvement. Turns out potholes contribute to lousy gas mileage and a bigger carbon footprint.
If you ask me, paying for a road we drive on is better than paying for a wall nobody wants!
Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident. She has won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for her news reporting.
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