Beto Veering Way Too Left on Energy and Environment

Beto Veering Way Too Left on Energy and Environment
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File

He’s gone from being the media’s favorite star to rolling out a widely panned copycat “Green New Deal” in the span of a few weeks.

How did Beto's campaign gets sapped of its energy so fast? The answer can be found in the question itself: it's energy, stupid.

It wasn’t that long ago that Beto was perched on counters delivering rousing orations to adoring crowds. He was the talk of Washington and landed on the cover of Vanity Fair, staring into the camera with an open road behind him. “I’m just born to be in it,” he proclaimed to the magazine, speculating about a presidential bid.

How things have changed.

Two weekends after his announcement, O’Rourke’s campaign’s volunteer door-knocking numbers have reportedly plummeted. His fundraising numbers, admittedly strong during the campaign’s first 24 hours, appear to have tapered off.

Only a few dozen students showed up to O’Rourke’s rally in Nevada in April. His campaign wanted to fill an entire courtyard, but moved to an “intimate” room when numbers fell.

These are the telltale signs of a struggling campaign.

O’Rourke isn’t going away quietly. He’s recognized that his campaign is faltering, and he’s come up with a solution – move rapidly to the left on energy issues.

Unfortunately for Beto, this strategy is fundamentally flawed. It won’t win him the primary, and it will ruin any future political career he hopes to have in his home state.

During his Senate run, O’Rourke was considered a moderate on energy and environmental issues. He said that there was a place for fracking in Texas, and promoted fracking as “fundamental” to our national security. He talked about how he was “proud” that Texas was a leader in oil and gas development.

In the span of a few weeks, O’Rourke has worked to shed his entire energy record and embrace left-wing positions on energy and environmental policy.  

First, O’Rourke embraced Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s unworkable, expensive “Green New Deal,” calling it the “best proposal” he had seen.

Now, O’Rourke has rolled out his own environmental plan, and it’s nearly as extreme as the “Green New Deal.” He proposes spending $5 trillion to reach “net-zero emissions by 2050,” signing a flurry of executive orders to limit the energy industry, and increasing fuel-economy standards.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, O’Rourke’s plan aligns himself “with the goals of the Green New Deal.”

But this plan represents political malpractice.

How will the federal government, already facing major budgetary shortfalls, fund $5 trillion in new spending? Apparently with nebulous “changes to the tax code” and by making the wealthy pay their “fair share.”

That’s not a plan, that’s a platitude. Refusing to provide a specific funding mechanism makes his plan easy to criticize from the right.

Even the left is not enthralled with O’Rourke newfound environmental activism. The “Sunrise Movement,” the environmental group backing Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” says O’Rourke’s plan doesn’t go far enough. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, also running for president, labeled O’Rourke’s plan “empty rhetoric” in a statement.

The problem for O’Rourke is that nearly every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has endorsed the “Green New Deal.” Embracing environmentalism does nothing to distinguish himself from the other candidates, and only opens himself up to criticism that he isn’t going far enough for the liberal base.

Even worse, his move left increasingly puts his plan B – dropping out of the presidential race and running for the senate seat held by Senator John Cornyn – out of the question.

Texas is a pro-energy state. It’s the nation’s leading energy producing state by a country mile. Thanks to fracking in the Permian Basin, Texas is reaping major economic rewards from the energy industry, helping push domestic oil and natural gas output to record levels. The economic boom created 26,000 oil and gas industry jobs in just the past year alone.

Running on an anti-energy policy is akin to running against the Alamo in Texas. It’s bad policy and bad politics.

Beto O’Rourke couldn’t win statewide when he cast himself as a moderate on energy policy. Now, that climb is much steeper with his embrace of the far-left’s policy wish list.

The future isn’t looking so bright for the media’s former favorite star.

Daniel Turner is the Executive Director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF


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