Sanders Touts $16T Climate Plan 08/23 06:20
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
released a $16.3 trillion climate plan on Thursday before touring a Northern
California town ravaged by wildfire, declaring the setting a "wake-up call for
our entire nation" to the dangers of a warming planet.
"Climate change is a major, major crisis for our country, and the entire
world, and one of the manifestations of that crisis is what happened here," the
Vermont senator said as he walked through a burned-out mobile home park in
Paradise alongside people who lost their homes in last November's deadly blaze.
Sanders' climate plan calls for the United States to move to renewable
energy across the economy by 2050 and declare climate change a national
While Sanders had already endorsed the Green New Deal, the sweeping
Democratic proposal to combat climate change, and had teamed up with Rep.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on climate legislation, his new plan
provides the most detail yet on how he envisions the climate change moonshot
taking shape if he is elected president.
Sanders describes his plan as a "ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered
on equity and humanity" that would create 20 million new jobs.
Among Sanders' ideas is sourcing 100% of the country's electricity from
renewable and zero-emissions power. He is calling for committing $2.18 trillion
in grants for low- and middle-income families to weatherize and retrofit their
homes and businesses, with the goal of reducing residential energy consumption.
He would charge the Energy Department with making sure that both new and
existing commercial structures, as well as high-income home owners, meet his
administration's energy retrofitting goals.
Sanders wants to overhaul the nation's transportation system by investing in
electric vehicles, high-speed rail and expanded public transit. He calls for
spending $526 billion to modernize the electrical grid across the United States.
In his plan, Sanders notes that communities of color are disproportionately
affected by the climate emergency. He says the Green New Deal is an
"opportunity to uproot historical injustices and inequities to advance social,
racial and economic justice."
As scientists warn of the imminent consequences of global warming, the Green
New Deal has been a rallying point for liberals in the party's base as well as
to Democratic presidential contenders in the crowded field. But Republicans
have argued that the plan is too radical and would drive the economy off a
cliff and lead to a huge tax increase.
His campaign proposes covering the costs over 15 years by a patchwork of
measures that includes eliminating existing fossil fuel subsidies and taxes on
that industry; income tax revenue on the 20 million jobs created by his plan;
and an estimated $1.3 trillion saved through a reduced need for safety net
programs because of the creation of those jobs.
"It is expensive," Sanders said at a climate-focused town hall near
Paradise. "But the cost of doing nothing is far more expensive."
In California, scientists and policymakers have named climate change as a
major contributor to the state's worsening wildfires, which have killed more
than 100 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in recent years.
Investigators determined faulty utility equipment owned by Pacific Gas &
Electric sparked the fire that ravaged Paradise. Sanders said his plan would
provide billions to help states and local governments better respond to
disaster and strengthen firefighting resources.
Republican U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the area Sanders visited,
said it's wrong to blame California's fires on climate change. He said Sanders'
plan would make it harder for the state to fight blazes because it would call
for planting billions more trees, which would create more tinder in the forests.
An audience member at the town hall asked Sanders how he would practice what
he preaches when it comes to fossil fuel consumption. Sanders pointed to solar
panels he's installed on his Vermont home but admitted that refusing to fly on
planes powered by fossil fuels wasn't realistic for his presidential campaign.
"I'm not going to walk to California," he said. "We do the best we can ...
but I'm not going to sit here and tell you that we're not going to use fossil
Sanders is just the latest Democratic presidential contender to release
details of his climate plans.
Former Vice President Joe Biden released a $5 trillion-plus climate proposal
that he says would lead the U.S. to net zero emissions of carbon pollution by
2050, and he is calling for $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed investing $2 trillion in
federal funding in clean energy programs, including her Green Apollo Program
for clean energy research and development and a Green Marshall Plan devoted to
encouraging countries to buy and use American-made clean energy technologies.
Before abandoning his presidential bid Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay
Inslee, who staked his campaign on the issue of climate change, released a $9
trillion plan to cut emissions. Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke called
for spending $5 trillion over 10 years to combat climate change.