At the start of 2019, the Green New Deal has captured the imaginations — and the anxieties — of the U.S. power sector.
Pushed by progressive activists and policymakers, the GND is a set of environmental policy proposals that aim to decarbonize the U.S. power sector within a decade and move the economy to net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
The movement, outlined in a nonbinding Congressional resolution this month, also includes broader policy goals, including federal work programs and universal health care. Activists say those are crucial to remake the economy into one that is more just and sustainable.
Less than a year old, the movement is influencing state policy plans and the 2020 presidential race. But the wide range of proposals has also raised concerns in the power sector — particularly the movement's position toward nuclear power and other non-renewable resources.
The rollout of the Congressional resolution, for instance, was complicated when the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., circulated a fact sheet — later withdrawn — that contemplated shutting down nuclear plants. An earlier letter to lawmakers from Friends of the Earth and a coalition of other environmental groups advocated limiting the movement's scope to non-hydro renewables.
Those conversations in the movement continue, said Greg Carlock, the Green New Deal research director for Data for Progress, a left-of-center research group. But increasingly, GND activists realize that existing nuclear plants and other non-renewable technologies may be necessary to push the scale of carbon reductions they desire.
"For me, it comes down to a conversation of prioritization,” he told EPS in a January interview. “If we are saying that decarbonization and the elimination of carbon and other pollutants is our top priority, then why would we tie our hands by taking important or zero carbon tools out of the toolbox?”
Last September, Carlock wrote a Green New Deal report for Data for Progress that has come to be seen as one of the foundational texts of the movement. In a wide-ranging interview he addressed the GND's broader policy goals and how market-based policies can factor into the implementation of deep decarbonization goals.
A market-based policy “can be a tool,” he said, “but it has to be seen through the lens of the [climate] outcomes that we’re still going after.”
Nukes can have small role in Green New Deal, backers say, Utility Dive
Green New Deal Report, Data for Progress
There has been a change in the name of this podcast. What was previously The Electric Power Show is now The Electric Power Station.
We made this change for copyright reasons, but when we thought about it, Electric Power Station is a better name for the program, given its allusion to a substation or power generating station.
One word in the name is all that's changed. We'll still be here regularly giving you in-depth conversations on the latest trends in energy and policy.