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Policy Brief: How the Green New Deal's Renewable Energy Mining Would Harm Humans and the Environment

April 10, 2020

As this paper shows, expanding mining on the scale needed to meet the renewable energy requirements contained in the Green New Deal and other proposed renewable energy mandates would cause unimaginable harm to the environment, wildlife, and humans.

Executive Summary

The Green New Deal (GND)—promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and several other prominent elected officials—aims to replace all fossil fuels and nuclear energy with so-called “renewable” energy sources, primarily wind and solar.

The justification for this extreme policy proposal is based primarily on the fear that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from oil, natural gas, and coal will cause catastrophic global warming, as well as concerns about the alleged dangers of nuclear power sources.

The scientific case that manmade global warming poses an “existential threat” to humanity is highly questionable, according to many scientists, and the safety record for nuclear power in this country thoroughly belies the claims against it.

However, what is beyond dispute is that eliminating fossil fuels and nuclear power would require literally millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, and several billion batteries like the half-ton power sources used in Tesla vehicles. This, in turn, would require a massive worldwide increase in mining for lithium, cobalt, copper, iron, aluminum, and numerous other raw materials.

Current mining operations to supply materials for today’s comparatively small amount of renewable power technology—plus batteries for laptop computers, smartphones, and electric cars—are already causing supply difficulties and serious problems for the environment. These mining operations are also imposing substantial harm on the men, women, and children who work in battery- and renewable energy-related mines, processing plants and factories in other countries.

As this paper shows, expanding mining on the scale needed to meet the renewable energy requirements contained in the Green New Deal and other proposed renewable energy mandates would cause unimaginable harm to the environment, wildlife, and humans.

Author
Paul Driessen is a senior policy advisor with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
pdriessen@cox.net