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February 6, 2023

Here Come the Climate Lockdowns

The Biden administration floats a new climate plan to have Americans travel less and telework more, all in the name of saving the planet.

Team Biden sees a silver lining in the aftermath of the government’s overreaching response to the global COVID pandemic. Those notorious lockdowns, which proved almost entirely ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus, did result in one apparently positive side effect — the amount of carbon emissions the country pumped into the atmosphere dropped significantly. It’s amazing what can happen when half the country is forced to sit at home.

Well, the do-gooders at the Environmental Protection Agency teamed up with the Energy Department, Transportation Department, and Housing Department to take a nostalgic look-back at those lockdowns, and they found themselves inspired to float a new climate plan. Like the trial balloon proposal to ban gas stoves, not to mention that ChiCom balloon over Montana, this one should be shot down.

Seeing gas-guzzling vehicles as major emitters of carbon emissions, these DC bureaucrats have come up with a plan aimed at keeping people at home — call it an emissions lockdown. Joe Biden set a ridiculous goal of getting the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050, but the primary means that fuels America’s economic engine is transportation. The vast majority of Americans go to and from work via their personal vehicles, and due to the fact that the vast majority of vehicles are gas powered — including those ghastly pickup trucks — the probability of completely switching Americans over to electric vehicles is not only impractical, it’s impossible in the foreseeable future. That is if Americans remain free.

Getting Americans to stop driving would mean the implementation of some sort of “commuting miles” limit, which is part of the idea behind the plan. The central planners call for developing “telework and other components of a digital economy,” which “can improve convenience by reducing travel demand, especially for work commuting.” They argue, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted major opportunities for telework, with some studies showing the possibility of 10 percent long-term reduction in annual vehicle miles traveled.”

However, what the plan conveniently ignores is the high cost the lockdowns had, for example, on America’s small businesses. More than 100,000 small businesses permanently closed following the COVID lockdowns, and many others are still struggling to get back to where they were prior to the pandemic. That’s because most businesses run on in-person interaction.

Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, blasted the plan. “Once again, the Biden administration is blindly pursuing a ‘green’ agenda despite the unintended consequences it poses to the economy and, more specifically, small businesses,” he said. “Small businesses struggled to survive the pandemic and we don’t need to return to a similar environment in which in-person consumer demand is severely compromised.”

In also pushing for a return to more remote learning, the planners ignore the massively negative consequences of the lockdowns on children’s education. Virtual learning was a stopgap measure that has proven to be a much less effective means of education for many children. Younger children need much more hands-on supervision and direct interaction with teachers and peers, especially during those earlier formative school years, and they were arguably hardest hit by the lockdowns.

There are many other elements that would play into this as well, but the nature of bureaucrats is to regulate and control with a singular goal in mind that effectively outweighs any other consideration. A free society prizes individual freedom while eschewing the diktats of top-down control. In dealing with the various problems posed by a changing climate, the best means of coming up with real-world solutions would be to encourage innovation and imagination with as little government interference as possible. But statists don’t believe in individual freedom; they believe in the heavy hand of government. And the heavier they can make that hand, the “better.”

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