Some of the Green New Deal principles are laudable. All of us probably agree “unparalleled prosperity, security and a strong middle class” are good things for which to strive.
We further agree with the urgent need to stop the transfer of jobs overseas and to grow industry in the United States. But the proposed Green New Deal legislation’s arbitrary timeline for transitioning to renewables, and unsubstantiated statements that do not reflect the circumstances in Santa Barbara County, is of great concern, despite the fact most of us are in favor of continuing development and utilization of renewable energy sources. The proposed legislation supports “100-percent clean and renewable energy” by 2030, quite probably an unrealistic goal.
Also of concern are the uncertainties of who would pay to "upgrade all existing buildings in the U.S. and build a more sustainable food system.” It is no secret it is harder and more expensive to do business in California than nearly anywhere, and because Santa Barbara County has even higher costs, we need to think smart to protect our jobs from fleeing to other countries, leaving our workers stranded. Is it wise for the county to adopt a resolution supporting the Green New Deal that will make it harder and more costly for traditional businesses to prosper here?
The U.S. has already reduced CO2 emissions down to 1992 levels, but this was only the beginning of numerous challenges. Many experts cite the reliability, scalability, storage, and infrastructure issues surrounding the transition to renewables as the most challenging of all, and as very unlikely to be solved in 10 years.
Even if fossil fuel sources could be replaced in the next decade or two with renewables for transportation and electricity, there are greater challenges to overcome before renewables may be adequate for providing the power necessary to affordably run our industries. Assuming these obstacles were overcome, what will replace the petroleum-based materials comprising our cell phones, laptops, tablets, athletic shoes, bicycle tires, etc.?
Perhaps the most confounding rationale for approving the Resolution is that by doing so we will be helping save the planet. When there is no drop in energy demand in sight, when every other place on Earth producing conventional energy is less environmentally sensitive than Santa Barbara County, and when producing it elsewhere would require shipping it long distances to California which has nearly the world’s largest demand for energy, how are we helping save the planet?
If the entire United States were to reduce its CO2 emissions to zero, it would only drop the world CO2 concentration from 420 to 399 ppm, so Santa Barbara County’s contribution to solving the global problem is miniscule. In fact, the county could potentially be fostering more carbon production on the planet by driving out more environmentally-sensitive operations currently done here to areas less regulated elsewhere.
By rushing to eliminate a currently reliable, proven, affordable source of energy, we could threaten our economic security. Why not ensure that conventional energy continues to play an important role until the transition to renewables is complete? Why not leverage the conventional energy industry’s capital investments, significant land holdings, and problem-solving spirit to facilitate the energy transition, in order to preserve economic stability and worker security?
Almost all major conventional energy companies are already engaged in developing renewable energy. Instead of supporting a resolution that could drive conventional energy companies out of Santa Barbara County, a likely result of approving the support resolution for the Green New Deal, why not work in partnership with these companies, many of which are already engaged in traditional energy production here, to also attract and support here in the county their renewable development projects?
The U.S. unemployment rate in April was 3.6 percent, the lowest in 50 years. At the county level, unemployment was only 3.5 percent, below the state’s 4.3-percent rate for the same month. But in North County, the seat of much of the county’s agricultural and industrial wealth and many of its family-wage energy and manufacturing jobs, five communities were well above the U.S., state and county unemployment rate.
Lompoc’s unemployment was 4.7 percent, with the Mission Hills community at 5.2 percent. Los Alamos had 4.9-percent unemployment and Santa Ynez had 5.3. Santa Maria, the county’s largest city and the home of more residents fitting the vulnerable-populations definition of the Green New Deal than any other city in the county, had an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, lower than March’s unemployment, but a surprisingly high figure in the context of a nationwide surge of prosperity. And 37 percent of Santa Barbara County households, even those with at least one working adult, are living below the real cost of living in the county.
Knowing all this, is it in the county’s best interests to focus on support of the Green New Deal legislation that will likely negatively impact industries, businesses and workers by creating higher costs, more regulation and more uncertainty? How will working families be impacted by these new demands on business and industry?
Why is there such urgency to adopt a county resolution supporting this proposed new legislation when there seem to be so many other pressing local concerns — lack of affordable housing, shortage of worker housing, unemployment above the state and national average in several communities, cannabis issues impacting our wine industry, deteriorating roads and bridges and millions of dollars of unfunded pension obligations?