windmills as part of the green new deal

Despite sounding new, the Green New Deal is not much of a new concept. This framework of economic and environmental proposals points all the way back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. The first major U.S. legislative proposal for the Green New Deal was popularized by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Senator Ed Markey in 2019.

While it has been wildly popular among liberals, the Green Party, and democratic socialists, it has received harsh criticism from others. Let’s answer the question, “What is in the Green New Deal?” and look at why people vehemently support or oppose it.

us governmental building

What Is In The Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal is a “climate emergency response and economic justice movement” that “seeks to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through rapid phasing out of fossil fuel use and creation of 100% renewable energy and a more just economic order rooted in renewable energy.” It wants to make the federal government “the primary buyer of renewable electricity within 10 years and the majority owner of renewable power within 20 years.” It wants the U.S. to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords, and end fossil fuel subsidies.

Because of all of this, many organizations have critiqued the GND to see if it can pass muster.

Why Is The Green New Deal Controversial?

In the landmark “Recovery Act” of 2009, which helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Recession, former President Barack Obama relied on a number of Democratic bills to meet his objectives. Among these was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the most important of which was the Investment Stabilization Act.

The legislation provided a range of loans and grants for the following purposes: Rebuilding basic infrastructure; expanding and upgrading alternative energy sources; reducing carbon pollution; fulfilling deficit-reduction goals. As a result, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was controversial and had more than its fair share of detractors. One of these criticisms of the bill, and the act itself, revolved around how it was passed.

Skepticism Towards The GND

Similar things have been said of the GND. Its aims, proposed funding sources, timeline, and estimated outcomes have all been held in skepticism. The GND “guarantees” “full employment” as well as aims to make the government an “employer of last resort.”

There are many questions posed to the GND’s allegedly utopian proposals, including:

  • What happens when the GND’s work is complete? Are workers still guaranteed jobs?
  • Isn’t the government the “employer” if the work being made available is through a public jobs program?
  • Aren’t AOC’s interests in providing jobs for those who are unwilling to work and fighting for a GND in conflict?
  • Is funding legitimately considered for this type of proposal, or is no cost too big? Who is really footing the bill?
  • How much of the “science” behind the GND is supported by the government vs. scientists and researchers who have decades of collective experience and knowledge?
  • Is the GND a legitimate, researched, measured attempt to reduce environmental problems, or is it a thinly-veiled attempt at pushing socialism in the United States?
  • How much of what the GND says is a looming climate catastrophe is backed up by scientists and academics who probably know more?
  • Is the GND built efficiently or is it simply an attempt to placate people?

The Green New Deal’s Opponents

Some of the first statements we saw about the Green New Deal were by senators and representatives criticizing it. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters previously: “To be clear, I reject the Green New Deal (GND). It’s just another way of repackaging old, tired ideas.

“It is not a plan to move our country to a clean energy economy. It’s just a plan to stoke the fires of climate change, harm our environment, raise energy prices, and force Americans to make bad choices.

“It’s the kind of short-sighted scheme that other countries use to steal our jobs and rush to a fossil fuel-based economy. It doesn’t solve the climate crisis, it creates one. The GND is just the latest example of un-seriousness and bad ideas in the Democratic Party.”

The Green New Deal’s Supporters

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) was one of over 100 cosponsors for AOC’s much-publicized resolution in Feb 2019. Supporters of the Green New Deal generally respond to critics of the idea by saying that the GND is not a new concept, but is simply about addressing the problems we face as a society.

Essentially, it is a necessary response to the urgent issues of climate change and environmental degradation that have plagued the world for decades. While many critics take issue with the concept of the Green New Deal, others almost uniformly praise AOC and Markey for their seemingly groundbreaking proposal. They have said they hope the Green New Deal is a clarion call that will spark a political revolution, increasing the number of Democratic representatives.

senator cory gardner on green new deal

Why Does Sen. Cory Gardner Oppose What Is In The Green New Deal?

Senator Gardner has repeatedly criticized the Green New Deal, with his most recent concern being its commitment to energy independence. Senator Gardner declared that the Green New Deal is “anti-energy and anti-oil” because it would shift the country’s economy from fossil fuels to green energy.

The full language of the Green New Deal includes a commitment to “create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States, provide economic security for all people of the United States, and make Transformative Climate Policy a key pillar of the Nation’s energy strategy.”

Gardner believes that the Green New Deal is not “energy independent” because of the New Deal’s reliance on energy sources outside of the U.S. Indeed, there are multiple other countries the U.S. could become permanently reliant upon were the GND ever to manifest.

aoc on green new deal

Why Does Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Support What Is In The Green New Deal?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC’s) decision to support a Green New Deal was motivated by the slow pace of the current fossil fuel-driven global economic system. She told PBS, “We don’t have a choice.

“We have to transform our energy system, and that transition has to happen fast, and it has to happen today.” She concluded, “I think that we’re at a turning point in history.”

If you think a Green New Deal is a new concept, you’re wrong. This framework has been proposed before. Indeed, the Green New Deal has a lot in common with FDR’s New Deal.

Here’s a look at some of the GND’s main tenets: Replacing fossil fuels with 100% renewable energy by 2030; fairly requiring every American household to be able to afford fully electric or hybrid vehicles; and heating with electricity or natural gas.


The Green New Deal may not be a brand new idea, but it has been thought of in a way never seen before. The concept has been around for decades, and the policies behind it have been introduced multiple times in recent U.S. legislative history.

The “good” news is that Americans should be free to make ultimate decision on whether or not they support this framework. We’ll see if this happens.

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