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Thoughts on the New Green Deal: GND + GOP?

Anyone who knows what I do for a living will understand my interest in supporting policy aimed, at least in part, at reducing carbon emissions.

Green New Deal announcement

Anyone who knows what I do for a living will understand my interest in supporting policy aimed, at least in part, at reducing carbon emissions.

But those who know that I’m married to a fiscal conservative will also understand that I don’t see Republicans as the enemy. And that’s an area where I think the Green New Deal has the potential to succeed or fail.

A recent NPR article on the deal talks about paying special attention to groups like the poor, disabled and minority communities that might be disproportionately affected. It goes on to say that Republicans likely won’t support these “liberal economic ideas.”

But since when do liberals have a corner on concern about disproportionately affected people? Republicans have worked hard to support farmers and more recently coal miners who are often disproportionally affected by policies. These same stakeholders will be affected by any Green New Deal. If the discussion were opened up to include groups of interest to Republicans, they could be invited into the conversation and might surprise people in their response.

What if we could get both sides of the aisle away from the lobbyists to talk about how stakeholders are really affected? I think all our elected officials could concur on the value of a policy that might reduce Dow Chemical’s profits by 0.001% while preventing a degradation of 30-40% in an affected population. (I’m using Dow as an example here since I know that they take the impact on stakeholder groups like these into account in their own decision making.)

And if we provide incentives for people and businesses to purchase alternative energy production, doesn’t it make sense to tie those incentives to jobs in coal country, provided by those who benefit from the policies, such as solar panel and battery manufacturers?

As I said, my husband is a fiscal conservative and a frugal New Englander. The two of us see eye to eye on the need to conserve energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, although for very different reasons. When we talk about these things, we acknowledge each other’s drivers, usually without being dismissive of either perspective.

For those of us who believe that we must act now and act boldly, it makes sense to actively invite a Republican point of view. We need to address their disproportionately affected stakeholders and accommodate their need for fiscal conservancy. We need to use our political savvy to embrace, rather than alienate those who think differently. If we don’t, the New Green Deal, and all the other deals that might reduce our risk of catastrophe, will fail.

Written by Lise Laurin

PHOTO CAPTION: US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey formally unveiled the Green New Deal at a press conference on Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Senate Democrats, Used Under Creative Commons