Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Expert Voices

Green New Deal could support needed upgrades to energy infrastructure

A down transformer is photographed in Paradise, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.
A downed transformer in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2018. Photo: Randy Vazquez/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The sweeping ambition of the Green New Deal (GND) has raised questions about how it will be paid for. But it’s important to consider how its potential outlays might intersect with investments that will need to be made anyway to replace aging U.S. energy infrastructure.

The big picture: The U.S. already needs to increase its infrastructure investment by more than $3.8 trillion by 2040 in clean water, energy and electricity, transportation networks and telecommunications. The GND could offer a way for policymakers to direct the infrastructure repair and upgrading that already needs to be done in service of fighting climate change.

Corporations' bankruptcy dodge

Illustration of a dollar bill as a flag being lowered and then raised as a white flag of surrender.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you're an executive who doesn't feel like making tough decisions about corporate priorities — like PG&E's potential climate liabilities or Citgo's Venezuela ties — there's always an alternative: file for bankruptcy.

My thought bubble: These problems are not what America's bankruptcy regime was designed to solve. Bankruptcy is messy and expensive; what's more, judges don't tend to make great corporate executives. But it's easy to see why an executive holding a hot potato might be tempted to pass it on to someone — anyone — else.

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