2020 Democratic hopeful and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is changing up his environmental practices to save South Bend, Indiana residents money. But for the rest of the country, Buttigieg favors a Green New Deal, which would cost an estimated $93 trillion over its first few years.
Is Buttigieg’s national climate change plan just a virtue-signaling hoax? Buttigieg claims to be a progressive leader in the fight against climate change, but his current policies on pollution in northern Indiana’s beloved St. Joesph River show he may have a more reality-based perspective on environmental policy than his progressive colleagues.
The St. Joe River spans from south-eastern to western Michigan, emptying into Lake Michigan. The river takes a quick dive into Indiana, spanning through three important Indiana towns — Mishawaka, Elkhart, and South Bend. The trio of Indiana cities are responsible for excess pollution and bacteria in the St. Joe River due to out-of-date combined sewer overflow structures, commonly referred to as CSOs.
Older sewer systems in these cities were originally designed to use the same pipes to carry sewage and stormwater runoff, the city of Mishawaka’s website says.
In small storms, this mixture of sewage and rainwater receives full treatment at the wastewater plant. However, in large storms the capacity of the sewers and treatment plant can be exceeded. Combined sewer overflow structures (CSOs) were constructed when treatment plants were built to provide a relief for this excess flow. CSOs prevent street flooding and back-ups into homes and businesses.
A lack of infrastructure and proper CSOs can cause high levels of E.coli bacteria, which, if consumed in high levels, can lead to gastro-intestinal illnesses. This is especially problematic for children, swimmers, and individuals with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management required cities with CSOs to develop long-term plans to reduce sewer overflow. South Bend had a long-term, and very expensive, plan to comply with these standards.
Buttigieg is now throwing away the city’s original $713 million plan negotiated between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and his predecessor Steve Luecke, in favor of a $225-250 million plan, the South Bend Tribune reports. The negotiations are currently in the process, South Bend’s public works director Eric Horvath told The Federalist.
Why is South Bend cutting spending on clean water initiatives? Horvath told the South Bend Tribune residents can’t afford the monthly rate increases needed to pay for the $713 million of work. Kieran Fahey, the city’s long-term control plan director, also said city personnel believe they can achieve more environmentally and economically friendly solutions by using South Bend’s “smart sewers.”
There may be some bumps along the road for Buttigieg’s plan, and his administration might have to skirt some federal guidelines, but when the initial policy is unrealistic for residents, lowering the CSO standards in exchange for affordability is the practical way forward.
Buttigieg’s national climate change agenda is not so practical. The federal solutions Buttigieg proposes, such as “building a clean economy,” are estimated at approximately $93 trillion over its first ten years. This plan is antithetical to the work he’s doing in South Bend.
Buttigieg claims that his administration would enact “stringent vehicle emissions standards,” requiring that all new passenger vehicles be sold zero-emissions by 2035. He also wants invest $100 billion over ten years into low-cost ride share programs, modernize subways, and create electric commuter buses. Not to mention, Buttigieg wants to mandate that any new material the federal government uses for infrastructure be under a specified level of carbon emissions.
These may sound like amazing ideas, but enacting them on a federal level is near impossible without a ridiculous influx of cash flowing to the government. If people in his own town can’t afford far milder improvements for the sake of the environment, how does Buttigieg think people across the nation can afford much, much more massive overhauls?
These plans are absurd, costly, and unrealistic. Buttigieg saw this same problem on a smaller scale, yet he plans to implement a difficult and costly proposal if elected president. Why would he do that to our country, when he is seeing how costly plans are unrealistic to pay for in South Bend?
It’s because his virtue signaling on environmental issues is a hoax. It’s important as a Democratic candidate in a progressive primary field to appear strict on environmental issues. In reality, Buttigieg is lying about his stance on environmentalism. He knows, deep down, an expensive plan that Americans can’t afford will not be a winning strategy. He knew it as mayor of South Bend and is a liar if he can’t recognize that on a national level.