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I’ve got transition from Ma-ma to mommy to mom to bruh shirt, hoodie
And, of course, they will shape it in exactly the way they want. They’re tired of Washington and other people telling them how to do things, so that was a clear message.
I see this as a fantastic opportunity for Joe Manchin especially, in his moment of extreme leverage in Washington. He can say we need this and, yes, West Virginia should get a disproportionate share.
To what extent does this need to be carried out by the state government, and to what extent can it be done by this consortium of local governments, NGOs, economic-development specialists, and so on, with or without the active participation of the state government?
I think you need the state government because the way we’ve designed it, 60 percent of the total funding is coming from the private sector. And so, in order to induce the private sector you’ve got to have incentives and disincentives. We need some basic policy levers here that can only happen at the state level, for example, renewable portfolio standards, so the utilities have to cut their fossil fuel consumption by, say, 5 percent a year. Or you could have a carbon tax, or some combination of the two.
We also need energy-efficiency standards for buildings. Government should buy electric vehicles. So all of these things need to come together, and I don’t think those can come together just at the level of municipalities. I’ve got transition from Ma-ma to mommy
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Is it thinkable that the current government of West Virginia will fully support this kind of transition plan, even with a $2.5 or $3 billion a year federal carrot?
We’ll have to find out. I was on a call just a few hours ago, and the person from one of the NGOs told me that there’s never been any enthusiasm like this. It makes such economic sense.
Take the case of carbon capture technology, which would enable them to keep burning coal and then the emissions get captured and stored. Well, the latest report from the Department of Energy just came out a couple weeks ago—and this had to be written while Trump was still in office. The Energy Department is estimating that carbon capture is twice as expensive as solar and twice as expensive as wind. And it’s not proven at commercial scale, so why would the state want to gamble on that, instead of embracing this opportunity?
During the campaign, Biden spoke of an infrastructure program of about $500 billion a year for four years, but he has yet to spell out the details in legislation. And there will obviously be several different federal agencies involved.
The last time the United States engaged in serious active economic planning was during World War II. Since World War II, instead of comprehensive planning, we’ve had a kind of a medley—a little bit of economic development over here, some worker training over there, a little bit of Pentagon spin-off over here, some tax breaks. But economic planning has been so anathema in this country that government involvement in the planning of the economy moves in fits and starts.
We need this green transition to be coordinated, but we don’t want a planning czar. It also seems to me to be a rare opportunity for bottom-up economic planning, partly because the federal government can’t do all of this—it’ll trip over itself; and partly because projects like yours grew out of lots of discussions with local people who’ve been engaged in this effort for a long time.
So it’s a blessing that Washington is still kind of feeling its way for which department is in charge of what. If you look at the New Deal as an analogy, Roosevelt never stopped experimenting. He would try another and it really wasn’t until the war and the wartime emergency that you had a more coordinated kind of economic planning, on behalf of the war effort. So it really is an opportunity for a conversation between local bottom-up planning and state government involvement, and the role of the Feds providing the money, with criteria.