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Thune: Radical Left’s Green New Deal Promises Heavy Burden on American Families

“I will continue working here in Congress to advance policies that promote clean energy and improve our environment – without placing heavy burdens on American workers or American families."

April 29, 2021

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed Democrats’ recent reintroduction of the Green New Deal resolution and the massive costs it would impose on the American people. Thune emphasized his continued efforts to advance policies that promote clean energy and improve our environment without placing heavy burdens on American workers or American families. Thune also announced he is introducing the bipartisan Livestock Regulatory Protection Act, which would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations on livestock emissions.


Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, last week, the junior senator from Massachusetts and the congresswoman from the 14th district of New York reintroduced their Green New Deal resolution.

“I think most Americans remember this socialist fantasy from when these members introduced it two years ago.

“It would be hard to forget a proposal with that price tag.

“One think tank analyzed the initial proposal and released a first estimate that found the Green New Deal would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10 years.

“Let me just repeat that: between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10 years.

“To put that number in perspective, Mr. President, our entire federal budget – our entire federal budget – in 2019 was well under $5 trillion dollars.

“It would be interesting to learn where we’re going to get this kind of money.

“A massive tax hike on the rich wouldn’t get us close to paying for this.

“But I don’t think I’m the only one who isn’t sure where we’d get the money for this.

“I don’t think the plan’s authors have a very clear idea either.

“In fact, the entire Green New Deal resolution is notable for its complete lack of specificity.

“It proposes outlandish, impossible goals, like upgrading every single building – every single building – in the United States in the next 10 years for maximum energy and water efficiency as well as “comfort,” but it offers zero – zero – specifics for how we might actually accomplish them.

“I’m not surprised, Mr. President, because there’s no way to come close to accomplishing everything the Green New Deal’s authors want to accomplish over the next decade without enormous economic pain.

“Mr. President, so often, when hearing the policies of the far left – environmental and otherwise – I’m struck by how they leave people out of the equation.

“Of course, the individuals proposing these plans don’t think they’re leaving people out of the equation.

“The Green New Deal’s authors are clearly under the impression that they’re creating a paradise for American families – if paradise includes government supervision and administration of just about every aspect of American life.

“But the reality is that like so many utopian plans, most of the environmental left’s sweeping ideas for remaking our society would have nightmarish effects in practice.

“Higher energy costs.

“Reduced economic growth.

“Sharp increases in the cost of essential commodities, like groceries.

“Huge tax hikes.

“Job losses.

“Today I want to talk about just one example of the damaging potential of environmental extremism, which has relevance for a bill I’m introducing today.

“There has been an increasing tendency on the part of the environmental left to demonize the consumption of beef.

“And this tendency is creeping into the mainstream.

“Earlier this week, food website Epicurious – a site a lot of Americans turn to when they’re wondering what to cook for dinner – announced that it will no longer add new recipes featuring beef.

“The website said its move is not anti-beef but pro-planet.

“It’s pretty much wrong on both counts.

“First of all, the move to demonize beef could have real consequences for a lot of ranchers, like those I represent in South Dakota.

“If demand for beef drops, some of these ranchers may be out of a job.

“Of course the Green New Deal’s authors would probably suggest a government program to help them out.

“But I can’t think of many ranchers I know who would like to abandon their way of life for dependence on a government program.

“And there’s no reason they should have to.

“Contrary to the story being pushed by the environmental left, beef production is directly responsible for only a tiny fraction of U.S. emissions.

“And beef cattle actually play an important role in managing pasturelands that sequester vast amounts of carbon.

“And on top of that, it’s become clear that with certain feed additives, it’s possible to significantly reduce cattle emissions – making the demonization of beef even more wrongheaded.

“Mr. President, today I am introducing the Livestock Regulatory Protection Act with my colleague Senator Sinema.

“I actually introduced this bill years ago with the Democrat leader – before it became dangerous for members of Democrat leadership to support anything that might anger the environmental left.

“The Livestock Regulatory Protection Act is simple.

“It would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing emissions regulations relating to the biological processes of livestock.

“We really shouldn’t need this bill, Mr. President.

“But it’s becoming increasingly clear that we do.

“This legislation was included in annual funding bills on a bipartisan basis for a number of years after the Democrat leader and I first introduced it, but the House has omitted it from its recent bills and the Senate has had to secure its inclusion in the final bills.

“Passing this legislation would give livestock producers long-term certainty that their livelihoods will not be compromised by overzealous environmental crusaders.

“Mr. President, I believe very strongly in protecting our environment.

“I’ve been an outdoorsman all my life.

“In many ways, outdoorsmen – and women – are the original environmentalists.

“If you value spending time in the outdoors – whether you’re hunting or hiking, fishing or swimming – it’s likely that you’re going to care a lot about keeping our air and water clean, preserving native species, and safeguarding our natural resources.

“I’ve been interested in clean energy issues for a long time and have been introducing legislation to support clean energy development for more than a decade.

“In February, I introduced two bipartisan bills to support the increased use of biofuels and emphasize their clean energy potential. 

“Currently the EPA’s modeling does not fully recognize the tremendous emissions-reducing potential of ethanol and other biofuels.

“The Adopt GREET Act, which I introduced with Senator Klobuchar, would fix this problem and pave the way for increased biofuel use both here and abroad by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel using the U.S. Department of Energy’s GREET model. 

“I also introduced a bill to advance long-stalled biofuel registrations at the EPA. 

“Regulatory inaction has stifled the advancement of promising technologies like ethanol derived from corn kernel fiber – even though some of these fuels are already being safely used in states like California.

“My bill would speed up the approval process for these innovative biofuels.

“This would allow biofuel producers to capitalize on the research and facility investments they have made and improve their operating margins, while further lowering emissions and helping our nation’s corn and soybean producers by reinforcing this essential market. 

“Just last week, I joined colleagues from both parties to cosponsor the Growing Climate Solutions Act – legislation to make it easier for agriculture producers and foresters to participate in carbon markets.

“This bill is a great example of the kind of bipartisan process we should be following when it comes to climate legislation.

“So as I said, Mr. President, I strongly believe in protecting our environment.

“But I believe that we need to protect our environment in a way that takes account of people too.

“And that means promoting legislation that is good for our environment and for our economy.

“That is good for our environment and good for agriculture producers.

“That is good for our environment and good for American families.

“That’s why I’ve introduced proposals like the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, or SHIPP.

“This program – a short-term version of the Conservation Reserve Program – is a win for both our environment AND for farmers and ranchers.

“SHIPP – which became law as part of the 2018 farm bill – provides an incentive for farmers to take their lowest-performing cropland out of production for three to five years.

“Like the Conservation Reserve Program, it protects our environment by improving soil health and water quality, while improving the bottom line for farmers.

“Along with my livestock producer protection bill, I’m also introducing legislation today to eliminate the November 1 haying and grazing date for cover crops.

“Cover crops provide a lot of environmental benefits.

“They improve soil health, reduce erosion and nutrient runoff, improve water quality, and sequester carbon.  

“They also benefit farmers since their animals can graze these crops, or the cover crops can be harvested to provide forage for livestock.

“Currently the haying and grazing date – the date on which farmers can start harvesting or grazing cover crops on prevent-plant acres – is set for November 1, too late in the year for farmers in more northern states like South Dakota.

“Early winter weather in these states can cause cover crops to freeze before they can be used for haying and grazing.

“The legislation I’m introducing today with my colleague Senator Stabenow would fix this problem by letting farmers harvest and graze cover crops outside of the primary nesting season – which ends August 1 in South Dakota – allowing both farmers and our environment to benefit from these crops.

“Mr. President, protecting our planet is imperative.

“And government certainly has a role to play in promoting clean energy and sound environmental policy.

“But putting the government in charge of our economy – in fact, putting the government in charge of pretty much every aspect of American life, as the Green New Deal would do – is not the answer.

“Innovation, not government, is the key to addressing environmental challenges.

“Unfortunately, President Biden is embracing a whole host of Green New Deal-like policies.

“Take his so-called 30-by-30 directive directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies to provide recommendations to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

“I have already heard from ranchers and landowners in South Dakota who are concerned about the measures the administration could pursue to meet this goal, including federal land acquisitions and burdensome regulations on private landowners – many of whom are already doing everything they can to promote the health of their land.

There’s also serious reason to doubt the government’s ability to manage a vast new amount of land.

“The federal government already frequently fails to properly manage the land it already has.

“Yet some believe that we can give the federal government huge new swaths of land, and somehow the government will manage it properly.

“But that’s the problem with a lot of these socialist fantasies: They assume that the government will achieve levels of efficiency and productiveness that the government has simply never demonstrated.

“It’s the triumph of fantasy over experience.

“Surely the people espousing socialist fantasies have sat in long lines at the DMV – or remember how the Obama administration had more than three years to prepare for the opening of the Obamacare exchange, yet couldn’t even come up with a working website in that time.

“And yet the Green New Deal’s proponents are advocating that we put the government in charge of pretty much every aspect of American life.

“Socialists – and the Democrats parroting their ideology – don’t want to believe it, but the truth is that private individuals are often a lot more efficient, effective, and innovative than government.

“And we should be focusing our energies on supporting that efficiency and effectiveness and innovation instead of attempting to solve our environmental problems by giving government more than it can handle.

“Mr. President, I will continue working here in Congress to advance policies that promote clean energy and improve our environment – without placing heavy burdens on American workers or American families.

“I will continue to advocate for policies that encourage and harness the ingenuity of the American people in facing our environmental challenges.

“And I will continue to oppose legislation that prioritizes supposed environmental gains over the wellbeing of the American people.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”