Fact Check: Will The "Green New Deal" Outlaw Air Travel?

What Will the Green New Deal Mean for Air Travel?

There’s been a lot of controversy about the so-called “Green New Deal” being pushed by New York radical congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Unions are worried it will leave their members jobless; businesses and workers are worried it will tax them into poverty; everyone with any common sense is worried it will plunge the country into an energy crisis. Now some people are starting to worry that it will also make it harder for us to travel with air travel being one of Ocasio-Cortez’s main targets. What’s the deal? Is this socialist fantasy going to ground our airliners?

  • Ocasio-Cortez introduced her “Green New Deal” bill in the House on February 7; two days later President Trump slammed it as a plan that would “permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military.”
  • On Feb 11 he repeated these claims at a rally in El Paso, saying that the radical socialist plan was a policy of “take away your car, your airplane flights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California’”.
  • Next day, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) quoted the president almost word for word, saying Ocasio-Cortez wanted to “outlaw” air travel, gasoline, cars and “probably the entire US military.”
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  • The idea that the Green New Deal aims to ban most of the ways we get around is pretty widespread, but according to Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters, it’s not actually true. Her bill doesn’t contain prohibitions on any of these things — at least, not openly.
  • On the other hand, it does commit the US to becoming a zero-carbon economy inside ten years. Right now this country, as a large and highly industrialized nation with the largest economy in the world, emits quite a lot of carbon dioxide. Scientists are still divided on how harmful this is, but Ocasio-Cortez wants to aim for zero net carbon anyway. That’s going to mean some dramatic changes in how we do things.
  • The biggest source of carbon emissions in the US is transportation. We drive, fly and take the train a lot. That’s inevitable. This isn’t a small country like Holland; we can’t cycle everywhere, even if we want to.
  • Detailed plans held by Ocasio-Cortez’s office talk about building high-speed rail links on a scale that makes air travel “unnecessary.” That’s great if you’re a New York congresswoman who works in DC, but if you regularly travel from coast to coast on business, even the fastest train is going to waste a lot of your time compared to flying. Not to mention our good friends in Hawaii.
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  • Ocasio-Cortez also wants to invest in electric cars, but these only have a range of a couple of hundred miles and take hours to recharge. Again, this is great in Europe, but not a lot of use in a country where people see a 500-mile drive as no big deal.
  • There are big questions about whether we’d be able to power all these electric cars anyway. The Green New Deal wants to phase out fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy, but that’s going to mean we have a lot less power available and it will be less reliable.
  • Maybe it’s true that Ocasio-Cortez isn’t planning to ban air travel and confiscate our cars. But if she ever gets to put her plans into effect, travel in the US is going to become a lot slower and more stressful than it is now.