It’s not often that something you hear in passing on the evening news stops you dead in your tracks—especially when it’s something as commonplace as a cable news interview with a United States Senator. But when Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) proclaimed to America that the so-called “Green New Deal” pushed by anti-growth climate activists was “in the DNA” of the $3.5 trillion, multi-thousand-page, big government socialism bill being written by Congress, it sent shivers down my spine, as it should for every hard-working West Virginia family.
With each passing day that Congress debates the fine details over how many trillions to add to the national debt and which progressive wish list items to put on our grandkids’ credit card, it becomes increasingly worrisome that West Virginia communities like ours will be left out in the cold with higher heating bills and fewer jobs to pay them. By the looks of things, the special interests are treating this spending bill as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to line their pockets and stack the deck against ordinary families and small businesses that don’t have armies of Washington, DC lobbyists and powerful political connections to do their bidding. Simply put, West Virginians can’t afford for this bill to become law.
For starters, the Green New Deal policies contained in this legislation would put at risk nearly 50,000 jobs in West Virginia with typical pay around $23 per hour, devastating individuals and families just as they are starting to get back on their feet and recover from the pandemic-induced recession. At the same time President Biden asks foreign countries to increase their energy production, his big government socialism bill would threaten U.S. energy independence.
In addition to the prospect of lost jobs and livelihoods, West Virginia families like ours would be threatened with higher energy prices as the federal government punishes electricity providers that don’t meet arbitrary bureaucratic benchmarks set forth in the euphemistically named “Clean Electricity Performance Program” that has been called a “marquee component” of this bill and a “central plank in the Biden administration’s approach to forcing carbon-emitting generation off the electricity grid.” Yikes. We would be far better off if the federal government imposed a performance program on itself instead of on struggling families, and low-income seniors are most vulnerable of all.
As if this weren’t bad enough, the bill would also give $10 billion in taxpayer dollars to establish a government program called the “Civilian Climate Corps.” The CCC would create an army of climate activists to serve as unofficial lobbyists and, as one prominent activist group supporting the initiative says, “confront the interlocking crises of climate change, environmental and racial injustice, and economic inequality.” Many CCC employees would become “educators” for communities, undoubtedly instructed to preach the left’s green agenda and the evils of fossil fuels. Imagine that—your tax dollars going to pay for activists to show up on your doorstep and scold you on how much you’re hurting the environment, right after the bill that gave them funding also cost you your job.
While Senator Ed Markey may be unconcerned about giving up America’s energy independence and high-paying jobs, energy production is a core part of West Virginia’s culture and economy. We elected Senator Joe Manchin to represent our interests, and now is the time for him to continue to stand up for us against this radical agenda. The lobbyists, insiders, and elites who frequent the DC cocktail circuit know how to take care of themselves at the rest of our expense. What West Virginia’s energy workers and families need now is for Senator Manchin to vote against this massive bill and ensure it does not become law, just like the rest of the country is depending on our elected leaders to stop this disastrous big government socialism bill in its tracks before it’s too late and we’ve lost sight of our country.
Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, was first elected in 2014 and serves as Majority Leader of the West Virginia House of Delegates.