Boise’s ‘Green New Deal’ is a disaster in the making

Parrish Miller Articles, SMART Boise Leave a Comment

Back in the halcyon days of 2019, a New York congressional representative introduced a legislative proposal dubbed the “Green New Deal.” Widely panned, the ambitious package of fanciful schemes imagined a world devoid of air travel and cows, among other things. Impractical in the extreme, this idealistic vision nevertheless took root in a minority of left-wing extremists who, even today, are attempting to bring its unworkable goals to fruition through policy changes at all levels of American government. 

Today, we have before us the city of Boise’s latest budget proposal, where the insidious goals of the “green new deal” have found a new home in the mayoral administration of Lauren McLean. 

I have written previously about her opposition to “single-occupancy vehicle trips” and her desire to institute an “Alternative Transportation Culture Campaign” to “create a culture where public transit, bicycling, and walking are viewed as first choices.” Be forewarned: These are just the proverbial iceberg tip. 

The city budget includes $150,000 in one-time and $75,000 in ongoing base funding for “Carbon Neutral City Operations.” This money would “allow for development and evaluation of a roadmap to achieve the carbon neutral city operations goal by 2030.” 

“A study will be conducted to evaluate the cost of electric power usage at all city facilities with the potential of funding pilot projects to convert city buildings to all-electric. Activities will include evaluations of how the City may purchase carbon offsets for more difficult changes to current operations (e.g., fleet conversion to electric vehicles, and accommodating recently installed thermal energy assets).”

Keep in mind, this is just the study portion of Boise’s own little “green new deal,” not the actual implementation. That would cost far more, especially the proposed purchasing of worthless environmental indulgences supposedly to offset the use of traditional energy. In essence, taxpayers would be forced to buy the city’s energy twice.

This is far from the only such proposal in the city’s budget, unfortunately. Consider the $100,000 per year “Climate Economy Accelerator.” Once again, taxpayers are tapped, not to accomplish something, but to begin exploring the idea of how something might be accomplished in the future. 

The “Climate Economy Accelerator” is focused on “positioning Boise to be a recognized leader for innovative approaches and businesses with significant market value focused on technical and social solutions to climate change.”

But wait, there’s more.

“This work will include developing the focus of the accelerator (i.e., identify climate change issues that are either particularly relevant to the challenges faced by Boise and/or which Boise is uniquely positioned to address), establishing a structure for the accelerator, identifying and establishing partnerships to support the concept, and developing long-term funding models/strategies.”

We could try to unpack that or we could deposit it directly in the rubbish bin. I recommend the latter. 

While we’re at it, can we preemptively can the new $120,000 per year “Energy Program Manager,” who is slated to oversee “all energy related initiatives”? This includes “all internal energy initiatives including electrification, energy efficiency, and city renewable energy goals.” This manager would also be in charge of “leading all community-wide energy efficiency efforts.” 

Presumably, this new Boise Energy Czar would also oversee our next item, “Energy and Water Efficiency for Vulnerable Populations,” a heady fusion of environmentalism and socialism. With the $100,000 per year sought for this endeavor, “the City will promote existing energy and water efficiency programs, and potentially develop new programs aimed at assisting vulnerable populations by lowering utility bills.” 

In other words, your tax dollars will pay for someone else’s energy consumption. The city would like you to know that “this strategy is viewed as a foundational approach to addressing equity and affordability issues” and the city “considered equitable access to clean energy and energy efficiency in setting the 2035 citywide clean electricity goal.”

There’s so much more. Taxpayers will be on the hook for $50,000 for an “Environmental Justice & Health Equity Baseline Report” to “understand whether and where there are disparities in access to environmental and health amenities, or disproportionate exposure to environmental and health harms among traditionally underserved communities.”

There’s $100,000 for “Solar Project Scoping” to “allow for a study to be conducted on a potential project at the Boise Airport that would support meeting the goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 for all municipal operations.” If that were not enough, the project would also “help meet potential carbon neutral goals as the City progresses towards electrification of city facilities and fleet.”

There’s also a quarter of a million dollars to allow the city’s public works department to focus on the “implementation of initiatives and projects to meet the municipal 100% Clean Electricity Goal by 2030 and Community 100% Clean Electricity Goal by 2035.” Included among these “Energy Initiatives” are “completion of a thermal energy plan, investment in energy efficiency within city operations, and study of renewable energy concepts for city buildings beyond the Airport project recommended under Solar Project Scoping.”

Taken all together, these proposals set the stage for the city to spend untold millions over the next decade striving to attain their “carbon neutral,” “100% Clean Electricity” goals. And for what? None of these expensive transitions will increase the services provided to city residents and they certainly won’t lower taxes. 

The “Green New Deal” was rightly recognized as an absurdity in Congress, but its components are still finding their way into public policy across the country. Even here in Boise, Idaho, we face the prospect of creating costly and ineffective programs and positions to further an agenda that is at odds with the goals and priorities of most Idahoans.┬áIs the city of Boise really more foolish than Congress? Let’s reject these bad ideas and focus on economic recovery and fiscal sanity. We don’t need a “Green New Deal” in Boise or elsewhere in the Gem State.