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Why Kansas Politicians of Both Parties Should Embrace the Green New Deal

Publication: Kansas Reflector

Author: Stan Cox

In this fall’s contest between U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and state Sen. Barbara Bollier for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, Marshall has repeatedly argued that his opponent, if elected, would join her fellow Democrats in passing a “radical” Green New Deal bill.

Bollier has responded each time by saying that although she supports action on climate change, she does not support the Green New Deal.

I’m confused. Bollier and Marshall are vying to represent the state that in 2007 denied a permit to build three huge coal-fired power plants in Finney County on grounds of climate impact.

Then Kansas went on to become No. 5 in the nation in wind power capacity. Wind farms in Kansas now provide more than 40% of the state’s electricity supply, second only to Iowa.

Marshall and Bollier both say they support wind power. Yet neither wants to be associated with the term “Green New Deal.” That seems strange, given that Kansas’ energy trajectory since 2007 looks a lot like what the Green New Dealers are aiming for.

The problem is partly one of negative branding. Because the Green New Deal exists so far not as a fully fleshed-out program but rather a broad vision (described in an unpassed 2019 joint Congressional resolution), Marshall and others on the right have felt free to use the term as a bogeyman.

They do this all the time. With polls showing heavy majority support for policies like climate action, protective measures against COVID-19 and an end to police killings of Black people, Republicans have taken words that have clear meaning and usage — “Green New Deal,” “wear a mask,” “Black Lives Matter” — and wielded them as epithets, vandalizing their opponents’ talking points.

Marshall charges that if the Green New Deal is passed into law, it will cripple the U.S. economy and “kill” Kansas agriculture. Yet in both name and aim, the Green New Deal is a textbook economic stimulus package. Its jobs provisions and aggressive renewable energy buildout would certainly benefit the Kansas economy. And it poses no threat to agriculture.

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