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The Green New Deal was proposed by Democrats as a way to tackle climate change by achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions, but their opponents across the aisle have not been wholly supportive of the congressional resolution.
Many Republicans — and now the governor of Iowa — have labeled the proposal as damaging to the U.S. economy.
In an April 23 tweet, Gov. Kim Reynolds stated “the Green New Deal would destroy Iowa’s economy and our way of life.”
First introduced in February 2019, the Green New Deal lays out a plan for the country to tackle climate change over the next decade by curbing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across every sector. It also proposes job creation in the clean energy industry while addressing economic and racial inequities.
It’s a non-binding resolution, meaning the Green New Deal would not become law even with Congressional approval.
Reynolds’ tweet linked to a Politico report that the resolution had been formally reintroduced to Congress this past month by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both Democrats.
It faces stiff opposition from Republicans, and Politico also points out it has failed to gain much support from Congressional Democrats either.
In response to the Fact Checker’s request for sourcing, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, Pat Garrett, said the resolution “would dramatically impact Iowa’s agriculture industry.” Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of corn, pork and eggs, according to the most recent rankings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 30.6 million acres of Iowa were operated for agriculture in 2020, nearly 85 percent of the state’s total land, according to the USDA.
Agriculture is a major industry targeted in the Green New Deal’s main provisions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 could be tied to agriculture. That includes nitrous oxide from soil and methane from livestock, the EPA found.
However, the resolution’s section on agriculture is vague. It states a goal is to work collaboratively with farmers to reduce emissions by supporting family farming, building a more sustainable food system and “by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health.”
Sponsoring lawmakers said in a summary sent to news organizations that the goal of the Green New Deal is to “work with farmers and ranchers to create a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas free, food system that ensures universal access to healthy food and expands independent family farming.”
The ambiguity is intentional, inviting researchers to create policy ideas that lawmakers could transform into bills, Mother Jones reported.
The document does state lawmakers set the 10-year goal to reach net-zero, rather than zero greenhouse gas emissions, “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
The statement is likely why some Republicans have incorrectly stated livestock would be banned under the Green New Deal. But the language of the resolution does not mention cows at all, and no Democrat behind the policy has said he or she intends to ban cows or other livestock.
Other opponents also raise alarms about Democrats’ proposed carbon tax on farmers based on emissions from their livestock and fertilizer application. Text of the Green New Deal does not include such a policy, but the summary doesn’t rule out that possibility.
It states a carbon tax would be “a tiny part” of the resolution compared with the investment in renewable energy industries “and would have to be preceded by first creating the solutions necessary so that workers and working class communities are not affected.”
Garrett, the Governor’s Office spokesman, also stated in an email to Fact Checker that “nothing in the Green New Deal seems to support Iowa’s Biofuel economy.”
It is true neither the resolution nor the summary mention biofuels. The proposal does make a major push for renewable energy resources and for investment in existing clean manufacturing industries.
Iowa is currently the nation’s top producer of biofuels and the second for wind energy, according to the Iowa Area Development Group. Fifty-seven percent of Iowa’s corn crop and 40 percent of its soybean crop were used for ethanol production in 2020, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
The Green New Deal calls for a full transition off fossil fuels. But its language doesn’t include any specific policies or plans on what the switch to clean energy sources would entail. Other policies, including President Joe Biden’s plan to transition the entire fleet of federal vehicles to electric, are likely to have a more immediate impact on Iowa’s biofuels industry over any Green New Deal rule.
At this point, the Biden administration’s proposal includes little funding for biofuels, according to Politico. Even if the push for electric vehicles goes through, its impact wouldn’t be immediate.
It is fair to say Iowa would see changes in its agriculture industry as a result of policies that meet Green New Deal standards. However, right now there are no specific policies included to evaluate for their impacts. At this point, it’s conjecture to say the proposal ”destroy” the state’s economy. Because of that, we give this claim a D.
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This Fact Checker was researched and written by Michaela Ramm of The Gazette.