Bernie’s Climate Plan is a Benchmark and a Game-Changer
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 22, 2019) – This morning, U.S Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released a campaign climate and energy plan that would, among other things: ban fracking; halt new fossil fuel extraction on federal lands; ban fossil fuel imports and exports; rebuild water infrastructure through the WATER Act; break up corporate factory farming; and require 100 percent clean, renewable energy-sourced electricity and transportation by 2030. In response, Food & Water Action Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:
“With this aggressive and inspired plan, Senator Sanders has set a clear benchmark for meaningful climate and energy policy in the presidential race and beyond. This plan includes the bold action and rapid timelines required to adequately address the magnitude of the climate crisis we face. Bernie’s plan is a game-changer.
“Most importantly, this plan would ban fracking, the toxic, polluting drilling method responsible for almost all oil and gas production in America today. Any serious plan to address climate chaos must start with a ban on fracking and a halt to all new fossil fuel development. Senator Sanders understands this, and he has set the bar for worthwhile climate policy discussion, here and abroad.”
A new report from Food & Water Watch charts recent and pending fossil fuel infrastructure buildout by surveying the power, petrochemical and gas export industries collectively. Overall, the report accounts for more than 700 fracked gas infrastructure projects that have been recently built or proposed for development – including gas-fired power plants, petrochemical/plastics facilities, and liquid natural gas (LNG) export terminals.
“What we see in this report is an industry blueprint for ensuring decades more of fossil fuel dominance over our society. If it becomes realized, the endgame would be a scary, dangerous world of omnipresent plastic waste, expanding air and water pollution, unacceptable health impacts and irreversible climate chaos,” said Ms. Hauter.
The Green New Deal
The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.
(August 20, 2019) —Climate change is a global emergency. The Amazon rainforest is burning, Greenland’s ice shelf is melting, and the Arctic is on fire. People across the country and the world are already experiencing the deadly consequences of our climate crisis, as extreme weather events like heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes upend entire communities, ecosystems, economies, and ways of life, as well as endanger millions of lives. Communities of color, working class people, and the global poor have borne and will bear this burden disproportionately.
The scientific community is telling us in no uncertain terms that we have less than 11 years left to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, if we are going to leave this planet healthy and habitable for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
As rising temperatures and extreme weather create health emergencies, drive land loss and displacement, destroy jobs, and threaten livelihoods, we must guarantee health care, housing, and a good-paying job to every American, especially to those who have been historically excluded from economic prosperity.
The scope of the challenge ahead of us shares similarities with the crisis faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s. Battling a world war on two fronts—both in the East and the West—the United States came together, and within three short years restructured the entire economy in order to win the war and defeat fascism.
As president, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis and act immediately to mobilize millions of people across the country in support of the Green New Deal. From the Oval Office to the streets, Bernie will generate the political will necessary for a wholesale transformation of our society, with support for frontline and vulnerable communities and massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system.
We need a president who has the courage, the vision, and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action. We need a president who welcomes their hatred. Bernie will lead our country to enact the Green New Deal and bring the world together to defeat the existential threat of climate change.
• As President, Bernie Sanders Will Avert Climate Catastrophe and Create 20 Million Jobs
As president, Bernie Sanders will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity during which climate change will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond. This plan outlines some of the most significant goals we have set and steps we will take during this mobilization, including:
• Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by 2050 at latest – consistent with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change goals – by expanding the existing federal Power Marketing Administrations to build new solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.
• Ending unemployment by creating 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis. These jobs will be good paying, union jobs with strong benefits and safety standards in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants. We will also create millions of jobs in sustainable agriculture, engineering, a reimagined and expanded Civilian Conservation Corp, and preserving our public lands.
• Directly invest an historic $16.3 trillion public investment toward these efforts, in line with the mobilization of resources made during the New Deal and WWII, but with an explicit choice to include black, indigenous and other minority communities who were systematically excluded in the past.
• A just transition for workers. This plan will prioritize the fossil fuel workers who have powered our economy for more than a century and who have too often been neglected by corporations and politicians. We will guarantee five years of a worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.
• Declaring climate change a national emergency. We must take action to ensure a habitable planet for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren. We will do whatever it takes to defeat the threat of climate change.
• Saving American families money by weatherizing homes and lowering energy bills, building affordable and high-quality, modern public transportation, providing grants and trade-in programs for families and small businesses to purchase high-efficiency electric vehicles, and rebuilding our inefficient and crumbling infrastructure, including deploying universal, affordable high-speed internet.
• Supporting small family farms by investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture. This plan will transform our agricultural system to fight climate change, provide sustainable, local foods, and break the corporate stranglehold on farmers and ranchers.
• Justice for frontline communities – especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly – to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, including through a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. And providing those frontline and fenceline communities a just transition including real jobs, resilient infrastructure, economic development.
• Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.
• Meeting and exceeding our fair share of global emissions reductions. The United States has for over a century spewed carbon pollution emissions into the atmosphere in order to gain economic standing in the world. Therefore, we have an outsized obligation to help less industrialized nations meet their targets while improving quality of life. We will reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030 — the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent.
• Making massive investments in research and development. We will invest in public research to drastically reduce the cost of energy storage, electric vehicles, and make our plastic more sustainable through advanced chemistry.
• Expanding the climate justice movement. We will do this by coming together in a truly inclusive movement that prioritizes young people, workers, indigenous peoples, communities of color, and other historically marginalized groups to take on the fossil fuel industry and other polluters to push this over the finish line and lead the globe in solving the climate crisis.
• Investing in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands. We will reauthorize and expand the Civilian Conservation Corps and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Corps to provide good paying jobs building green infrastructure.
• This plan will pay for itself over 15 years. Experts have scored the plan and its economic effects. We will pay for the massive investment we need to reverse the climate crisis by:
• Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
• Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
• Scaling back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.
• Collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
• Reduced need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
• Making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.
The cost of inaction is unacceptable. Economists estimate that if we do not take action, we will lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century. And the benefits are enormous: by taking bold and decisive action, we will save $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years, and $70.4 trillion over 80 years.
We cannot accomplish any of these goals without taking on the fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis. These executives have spent hundreds of millions of dollars protecting their profits at the expense of our future, and they will do whatever it takes to squeeze every last penny out of the Earth.
Bernie promises to go further than any other presidential candidate in history to end the fossil fuel industry’s greed, including by making the industry pay for its pollution and prosecuting it for the damage it has caused.
And most importantly, we must build an unprecedented grassroots movement that is powerful enough to take them on, and win. Young people, advocates, tribes, cities and states all over this country have already begun this important work, and we will continue to follow their lead.
1) Transform Our Energy System to 100 Percent Renewable Energy and Create 20 Million Jobs
There is no reason the United States, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, cannot transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy, like wind, solar, and geothermal. We have more than enough capacity to produce ample reliable, affordable electricity from sustainable resources. We must pass a Green New Deal to achieve 100 percent sustainable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and to fully decarbonize the economy by 2050.at latest
The federal government electrified America as part of the New Deal. The United States of America put people on the moon 50 years ago. We can sure as hell transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewables today and create millions of jobs in the process.
When Bernie is president, we will act immediately to address our climate crisis. Together, we will reduce US carbon pollution emissions by 71 percent and emissions among less industrialized countries by 36 percent from 2017 levels by 2030, consistent with meeting our fair share of emissions reductions under the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations. These emissions reductions represent the equivalent of reducing US emissions by 161 percent. This effort will be enforced by an interagency council led by Environmental Protection Agency.
As president, Bernie will:
• Transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest. The New Deal provided inexpensive electricity to America through efforts like the Rural Electrification Administration and the Federal Power Marketing Administrations. If the federal government was able to electrify America under FDR without computers or any of the modern technologies we have available to us today, think of what we can do today. Municipal and cooperative electric utilities still provide some of the least expensive electricity in the country today. As part of the Green New Deal, we will expand on that success.
• Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states.We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. We will spend $1.52 trillion on renewable energy and $852 billion to build energy storage capacity. Together, with an EPA federal renewable energy standard, this will fully drive out non-sustainable generation sources.
• We will end greed in our energy system. The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest. The Department of Energy will provide technical assistance to states and municipalities that would like to establish publicly owned distribution utilities or community choice aggregation programs in their communities. Electricity will be sold at current rates to keep the cost of electricity stable during this transition.
• Build a modern smart grid. A smart grid means a resilient, secure, and intelligent electric grid system that is capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy, charging electric vehicles quickly, and maximizing efficiency. We will spend $526 billion on a modern, high-volt, underground, renewable, direct current, smart, electric transmission and distribution grid will ensure our transition to 100 percent sustainable energy is safe and smooth.
• Weatherize homes and businesses to perform energy efficiency upgrades to make buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills. We will provide $2.18 trillion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in weatherizing and retrofitting their homes and businesses. Weatherization will reduce residential energy consumption by 30 percent. Because our mobile home stock is leaky and often very old, we plan to replace all mobile homes with zero-energy modular homes. As we move forward with energy efficiency efforts, we will prioritize the oldest, leakiest and least energy efficient homes and the homes of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families first. A federal mandate through the Department of Energy will ensure that new and existing commercial buildings and wealthy homeowners meet our energy retrofit goals.
• Electrify homes and businesses. One of the best ways to ensure that everyone is comfortable in their homes on the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter is to bring all non-electric uses of energy onto the electric grid. For example, so many of our homes still use dirty oil, propane, and fracked natural gas for heating and cooling. We plan to provide $964 billion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in cheaper electricity for these needs. A federal mandate through the Department of Energy will ensure that all new construction, existing big business commercial buildings, and wealthy homeowners meet our electrification goals.
• Phase out the use of non-sustainable sources. This plan will stop the building of new nuclear power plants and find a real solution to our existing nuclear waste problem. It will also enact a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States to protect surrounding communities. We know that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit, especially in light of lessons learned from the Fukushima meltdown and the Chernobyl disaster. To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.
• Regulate all dangerous greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is a very dangerous greenhouse gas, but it is not the only one we must address. Methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more powerful. In order to ensure we reach our carbon pollution emissions goals, the EPA will, under the Clean Air Act, regulate carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons. By aggressively enforcing our laws, we will end the injustice of 100,000 Americans dying every year from air pollution.
• Declare a climate emergency. There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes. Bernie will declare a national emergency on climate change and take immediate, large-scale action to reverse its effects. This is an existential threat and we will do whatever it takes to confront it.
We can and must transform our transportation sector away from fossil fuels to create a sustainable future for all and good-paying, union jobs right here in America. Transportation currently accounts for 29 percent of domestic emissions. We will create domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks and move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on renewable sources. We will build affordable, reliable, quick, and efficient public transportation, and high-speed passenger and cargo rail. And we will create millions of good-paying, unionized jobs building the automobile fleet of the future.
We will invest in nationwide electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to increase access to these resources for all, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. We will move beyond oil toward an electric car. Concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station have prevented many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option. We are going to change that. When Bernie is president, he is going to fully transform our energy sector away from fossil fuels, ensuring no one is priced out of this transition.
As president, Bernie will:
• Fully electrify and decarbonize our transportation sector. We will create a federal grant and zero-emission vehicle program to create a 100 percent renewable transportation sector. Zero-emission vehicle programs are already having success all across the country. In order to transition to 100 percent electric vehicles powered with renewable energy instead of expensive fossil fuels, we will institute:
• Grants to purchase a new EV. Provide $2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles. Currently, purchasers of electric vehicles are wealthier than buyers of conventional cars. As president, Bernie will make sure working families share the benefits of this transition and nobody is left behind.
• Vehicle trade-in program. Provide $681 billion for low- and moderate- income families and small businesses for a trade-in program to get old cars off the road. Families with a conventional car will be able to access an additional incentive for trading in for an American-made electric vehicle. The Obama administration conducted a successful trade-in program that helped accelerate the transition to more efficient cars. We will expand on the program and make it stronger by requiring even higher efficiency and make it available only to cars manufactured in the U.S.
• Electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In order to ensure that no one is ever stranded without the ability to charge their vehicle, we will spend $85.6 billion building a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure network similar to the gas stations and rest stops we have today. We will also ensure that new EV stations are open access and interoperable between all payment systems. Under our plan, drivers will no longer need to worry about where to charge their car or if they can pay for it.
• School and transit buses. Provide $407 billion in grants for states to help school districts and transit agencies replace all school and transit buses with electric buses. The EPA classifies diesel exhaust as a probable human carcinogen, and this exhaust contains over 40 different chemicals and air pollutants that are classified as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Children on school buses are exposed to concentrations of these substances that can be 5-15 times higher than background levels negatively impacting their health and performance in school. Once older buses are replaced with clean electric buses, school districts will save in fuel and maintenance costs over the life cycle of the bus.
• Replace all shipping trucks. Because this nation depends heavily on goods that are shipped all over the country by truckers, we must ensure that they are able to keep up their pace while we meet our climate goals. That means we must spend $216 billion to replace all diesel tractor trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks. Truck drivers from the largest fleets to small owner-operators will be able to access this funding.
• Ensure the decarbonization of the transportation sector. When we are in the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation will assist in the decarbonization of personal and commercial vehicles through regulation, enforcement and technical assistance. President Trump weakened clean car mandates on auto manufacturing, which some manufacturers opposed. Our administration will work with schools, transit agencies, cities, states, and private companies to establish standards for auto manufacturing to be 100 percent sustainable by 2030.
• Build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast, and resilient.
With a $300 billion investment, we will increase public transit ridership by 65 percent by 2030. We will ensure that reliable, affordable public transit is accessible for seniors, people with disabilities, and rural communities. In addition to expanding transit service to communities, we will promote transit-oriented development to link this service to popular destinations and vital community services. For too long, government policy has encouraged long car commutes, congestion, and dangerous emissions. The Green New Deal will reverse these trends and create more livable, connected, and vibrant communities.
• Build regional high-speed rail. Many other developed nations have advanced high-speed rail systems. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. This new system will give travelers a meaningful affordable alternative to plane or car travel between major cities. The reason high-speed rail has not worked in the United States is because we have not built the political mobilization needed to demand the funding needed to complete this vision. Together, we will create the movement needed to develop high-speed rail.
• Retrofit dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure. In 2013, 800,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled in railroad accidents. In 2014, an average of one oil train derailed every five days. The Federal Railroad Administration will adopt new rules requiring companies to retrofit the coal and oil bomb trains to prevent explosions, derailments, and spills. We will take similar action to protect communities’ well pads, substations, compressor stations, and pipelines as we remove fossil fuels to better protect communities that never asked to be cited in their footprint.
Research and Development
Our scientists and engineers know how to solve our climate crisis. Despite massive federal subsidies for fossil fuels, renewable energies have improved in cost and efficiency year after year, and now rival or surpass conventional energies in cost effectiveness. What we lack is long-term federal commitment to our scientists and engineers in the sustainable energy sector to accelerate innovation in both energy production and storage. Our country developed the internet, lightbulbs, and GPS. We developed a cure for polio. A Bernie Sanders administration will spur the development of the technologies and innovations we need to tackle the climate crisis.
As president, Bernie will:
• Dramatically decrease the cost of energy storage. The Obama administration successfully decreased the cost of installed solar by 90 percent through a Department of Energy program called SunShot. There are similar energy storage programs at DOE and some of our National Labs that aim to decrease the cost of solutions like batteries. We will similarly decrease the cost of energy storage and meet daily and long term reliability needs. We will invest $30 billion for a StorageShot initiative to meet those goals. The StorageShot program will have a goal of commercializing technologies that can provide energy lasting 24 hours to multiple days at a capital cost lower than $1,000 a kilowatt to support the renewable energy needed to phase out coal and natural gas plants that currently serve as base generation on the grid.
The program will also aim to decrease the cost of daily cycling storage resources by at least a factor of three in order to reliably and affordable replace all coal and natural gas plants that serve as backup on the grid. Additionally, in order to ensure an affordable and complete transition away from fossil fuels in the transportation sector, we will also spend $100 billion to decrease the cost of a new electric vehicle to at most $18,000.
• Invest in decarbonizing the shipping and aviation industries as soon as possible. The science is clear that the entire global economy must decarbonize by 2050 at latest if we hope to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. We must be extremely careful to ensure that as we do this, we make sure that domestic manufacturing and clean economy industries thrive. The federal government must identify and commercialize technologies to ensure the globe is able to fully decarbonize by 2050 at latest to meet the goals in the IPCC report. We will fund a $500 billion effort to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry, and a $150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation.
• Establish a nationwide materials recycling program. During World War II, Americans recycled metal and other materials that went toward making the planes, ships, and equipment necessary to fight and win the war. We must do the same to win the fight against climate change. To prevent an outsized impact on the environment from harvesting raw materials, we must build the wind turbines, solar panels, new cars, and batteries we need with as many recycled materials as possible. We will establish a “take back” program to require large corporations that produce goods with the materials needed for this clean energy transition to pay to take those goods back from consumers who no longer want them to establish a nation-wide materials recycling program so we can use as many recycled materials as possible to build the renewable energy equipment needed to transform our energy system. We will also invest in research for less resource-intensive methods and alternatives to plastic from fossil fuels, rapidly moving away from petrochemical plastics production.
• Reassert U.S. leadership in research and engineering by marshaling resources across the federal government and institutions of higher education, including the National Academy of Engineering and National Science Foundation. The U.S. has an obligation and an economic opportunity to be a leader in developing and deploying the clean technological solutions that will solve climate change. Research and development in the challenges of the cost of storage and electric vehicles and of decarbonizing industry, aviation and shipping could put the U.S. back in a position of leadership around the world.
Use the Power of International Leadership
The Paris Climate Agreement, which was signed by 175 parties, brought the world together in saying that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and that we all have a responsibility for taking action to solve it. The agreement was not perfect, however. Even if every nation met the agreement, it would still allow 3 degrees Celsius of warming, which would destroy island nations and the people least responsible for the climate crisis. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year issued a dire warning to the world: we have no time left to come together as a global force and aggressively reduce our carbon pollution emissions. It also made a strong case for limiting warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius if we hope to continue to have a habitable planet.
As president, Bernie will provide strong, inclusive American leadership to not only transform our own energy system, but to reach out to countries all over the world and cooperate on the global crisis of climate change. We must recognize that people from every country in the world — Russia, India, China, Japan, Brazil — are all in this together. Instead of accepting that the world’s countries will spend $1.5 trillion annually on weapons of destruction, Bernie will convene global leaders to redirect our priorities to confront our shared enemy: climate change.
Together, we will lead the international community to keep global warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We will not only reduce US carbon pollution emissions by 71 percent, we will support less industrialized nations in the Global South, excluding China, to help them reduce emissions by 36 percent from 2017 levels by 2030, consistent with meeting our fair share of emissions reductions under the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations.
• Lead the world in fighting climate change by investing in reducing emissions throughout the world. Bernie knows the importance of American responsibility and leadership on climate change. As President, he will take that role seriously and bring a commitment to the rest of the world on behalf of the American people to promote peace and aggressively reduce our emissions in an effort to get the international community to agree to limit global emissions to keep us at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. This will ensure the U.S. remains in a position of technological leadership and make us competitive on all sustainable energy technology to achieve our global goal of decarbonization by 2050.
• Invest in the Green Climate Fund. Despite the major shortcomings of the Paris Climate Agreement, one primary reason why the globe was able to come together to sign the Paris Climate Agreement was that major developed nations like the United States finally recognized that they had an outsized role in the creation of the climate crisis, and an outsized obligation to less industrialized nations to help them achieve the same kind of carbon pollution emissions reductions while improving the quality of life in those countries.
In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, the U.S. will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies. U.S. leadership can ensure that the developing world secures reliable electricity, reduces poverty and pollution-related fatalities, creates greater net employment, and improves living standards — all while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
• Bring together the leaders of the major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on misguided wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry. Bernie recognizes that the Pentagon is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and that the United States spends $81 billion annually to protect oil supplies and transport routes. We are uniquely positioned to lead the planet in a wholesale shift away from militarism.
• Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and enforce aggressive climate reduction goals. What President Trump did by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement is an international disgrace. While the Paris Agreement was an important milestone toward solving climate change, even optimistic outcomes from this agreement will not put the world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think beyond Paris. The United States must lead the way in achieving binding and enforceable multilateral goals to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must ensure genuine international cooperation in line with the IPCC’s findings.
• Renegotiate disastrous trade deals to protect the environment. Not only have agreements like NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China outsourced millions of American jobs, they have allowed corporations to outsource their pollution. Trade deals have been written in secret by billion-dollar companies to give polluters special handouts and protections, as well as the right to sue governments that pursue stronger environmental protections. Under a Sanders Administration, this will end. Trade deals will be renegotiated to ensure strong and binding climate standards, labor rights, and human rights with swift enforcement.
• End overseas fossil fuel financing. The federal government currently supports investments in fossil fuels through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OPIC, the Export-Import Bank, and other multilateral institutions. These international investments are inconsistent with a goal to curb the global climate crisis and must end. A Sanders Administration will lead these international financial institutions in advancing the equitable adoption of sustainable energy across the planet.
Invest in Resilience and Justice
The Green New Deal is going to keep carbon pollution emissions low enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change that we know are coming. However, scientists tell us that it is already too late to prevent all climate change impacts, as we have already begun to experience. That means that we must prepare for climate impacts like sea level rise, more frequent and severe weather, wildfires, spreading disease, heatwaves, floods, and droughts.
We know that children, people with disabilities, the elderly, low-income families, and communities of color are most affected by these impacts and are also the least capable of preparing for, and recovering from, impacts like these. We must ensure that the most vulnerable communities are provided with the resources they need to adequately prepare. This means everything from ensuring emergency preparation and warnings are provided in multiple languages to providing extra resources to vulnerable communities to ensure full and rapid recovery after a disaster.
As president, Bernie will:
• Create a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. The CJRF will ensure our infrastructure and communities are protected from the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
Once the CJRF is established and funded at $40 billion, the EPA, together with a number of other agencies, will conduct a nationwide survey to identify areas with high climate impact vulnerabilities and other socioeconomic factors, public health challenges, and environmental hazards. Each community will then be eligible for funding in order of most vulnerable to least vulnerable.
The interagency council will issue block grants to states, territories, tribes, municipalities, counties, localities, and nonprofit community organizations. The funds will be able to be used for climate resiliency projects, building emergency community centers and shelters with reliable backup power, wetland restoration, abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure and other environmental hazard reclamation; seawalls; community relocation; community evacuation plans and resources for safe and complete evacuation.
Within the CJRF, we will establish an Office of Climate Resiliency for People with Disabilities. The office will be led by people with disabilities to ensure that nationwide, the needs of people with disabilities are consistently addressed during adaptation planning and that those efforts are coordinated throughout the federal government.
• Rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. In order to remain resilient to the climate impacts we know are coming, we must repair our crumbling infrastructure. Our outdated and dangerous national infrastructure is not ready to withstand impacts like floods, hurricanes, or wildfires. Bernie has introduced legislation to rebuild America’s aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
• Repair the nation’s water systems. Flint, Michigan, still does not have clean drinking water. Communities all over the country from Denmark, South Carolina, to rural Iowa are faced with similar dangerous contamination, such as lead, diseases, or other toxic pollution like PFAS. Bernie introduced the WATER Act, which would provide up to $34.85 billion for:
• The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program
• The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program
• A new grant program to address lead in school drinking water improvements
• A new grant program for residential septic systems
• Funding for nonpoint source management programs
• Pollution control programs
• Household water well systems
• Technical assistance to rural, small and tribal systems for drinking water systems
• Technical assistance to rural, small and tribal systems for wastewater systems
• A report on affordability, discrimination and civil rights violations, public participation in regionalization, and data collection
• A study on water affordability and discriminatory practices or violations of civil rights and equal access to water and sewer services
• Technical assistance to rural and small municipalities and tribal governments. The bill would also double the amount of federal funding to Tribes for water infrastructure grants
• A new grant program to help households install, repair, replace and upgrade septic tanks and drainage fields
]• Requiring states to use no less than half of federal funds to provide additional subsidization to disadvantaged communities and to support the rebuilding of municipal resources where disrepair impacts community health
• Limiting federal funding to publicly owned, operated and managed drinking water utilities and small private water systems and requiring additional subsidization to disadvantaged communities
• Allowing state Drinking Water SRF funds to provide grants to private property owners to replace lead service lines
• Expanding federal funding to decontaminate our drinking water from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
• Requiring funds made available to use iron and steel products produced in the United States
• Requiring prevailing wages for all projects funded by the federal government for water infrastructure and requires recipients to use project labor agreements to the maximum extent practicable
• Build resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Internet access and communications are key in the wake of a disaster. In order to ensure that communities get the help they need, we will provide $150 billion in infrastructure grants and technical assistance for municipalities and states to build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks. This communications infrastructure will ensure first responders and communities are ready to deal with the worst climate emergencies.
• Increase funding for roads. Our national roads and highway system is crumbling. That’s why Bernie’s Rebuild America Act provides $75 billion for the National Highway Trust Fund to improve roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in the United States and another $2 billion for other surface transportation needs.
• Repair freight and passenger transportation networks. This plan ensures that our freight transportation is fully renewable by 2030 at latest, but to ensure the safety of those transportation networks, the Rebuild America Act provides $5 billion for TIGER grant projects that build or repair critical pieces of our freight and passenger transportation networks that are located in rural areas.
• Build the 7.4 million affordable housing units to close the affordable housing gap across the country and guarantee safe, decent, accessible affordable housing. We will greatly expand the National Housing Trust Fund to build the units necessary to guarantee housing as a right to all Americans.
• Repair and modernize public housing including making all public housing accessible, conducting deep energy retrofits of all public housing, and providing access to high-speed broadband. We will also ensure that public housing has quality, shared community spaces to ensure every public housing complex has the capacity to serve as a community resiliency center.
• Retrofit our public infrastructure to withstand climate impacts. Beyond repairing our existing crumbling infrastructure, we must ensure that our public highways, bridges and water systems are ready for climate impacts we know are coming. We will invest $636.1 billion in our roads, bridges, and water infrastructure to ensure it is resilient to climate impacts, and another $300 billion to ensure that all new infrastructure built over the next 10 years is also resilient.
• Adapt to sea level rise. Forty percent of the US — over 126 million Americans — live on the coast. Because such a high percentage of the American people live on the coast, coastal resiliency deserves special attention. We will provide coastal communities with $162 billion in funding to adapt to sea level rise.
funding for firefighting to deal with more frequent and severe wildfires.
In order to be able to quickly and effectively respond to wildfires, we will expand the wildfire restoration and disaster preparedness workforce. We will increase funding for firefighting by $18 billion for federal firefighters to deal with the increased severity and frequency of wildfires.
Because we have already seen deaths related to the increased severity and intensity of wildfires, we must facilitate community evacuation plans that include people experiencing homelessness, and increase social cohesion for rapid and resilient recovery from climate impacts to avoid the use of martial law and increased policing in disaster response.
• Protect community cohesion. After Hurricane Katrina, 24 percent of New Orleans residents — many of them low-income families and people of color — evacuated the city and were never able to return. The same thing is still happening in Puerto Rico today as almost 130,000 people have been forced to leave the island because the federal government has failed to distribute all the disaster aid approved by Congress. Our disaster response should ensure that to the extent possible, families are able to return to their home communities. We will amend the Stafford Act to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is empowered to address this problem specifically to ensure that recovery and rebuilding efforts make affected communities stronger than they were before the disaster so they are more resilient to the next disaster.
• Increase investments in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds projects that help mitigate damage from future disasters. The program saves $4 for every $1 invested up front by decreasing the impact of future disasters. We will invest $2 billion to ensure communities that are rebuilt after disasters strike have necessary resources to build back stronger than before the disaster.
Conserving Our Public Lands
Our public lands are a national treasure. They belong to all of us. Instead of selling them off to the highest bidder and allowing them to be destroyed by billionaire fossil fuel industry executives, are going to expand our green infrastructure and conserve our public lands. Our public lands serve an important role in not only preventing climate change but also in mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change like floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather that have been increasing in frequency. Bernie is committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to urban, suburban and rural recreational green space that are vital to our national heritage and our country’s tradition of recreation and conservation.
As president, Bernie will:
• Invest in green infrastructure and public lands conservation by reinstating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). One of the most successful New Deal programs and the most rapid peacetime mobilization in American history, the CCC put millions of men to work building and maintaining trails and conserving America’s wilderness. By the time the program ended at the start of World War II, it had planted more than 3.5 billion trees, and even today stands responsible for more than half the reforestation done in our nation’s history.
We will invest $171 billion in reauthorizing and expanding the CCC to provide good-paying jobs building green infrastructure, planting billions of trees and other native species, preventing flood and soil erosion, rebuilding wetlands and coral, cleaning up plastic pollution, constructing and maintaining accessible paths, trails, and fire breaks; rehabilitating and removing abandoned structures, and eradicating invasive species and flora disease; and other natural methods of carbon pollution sequestration. We must take these natural solutions seriously as an important part of our strategy to solve the climate crisis.
• Fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For 50 years, the LWCF has helped stimulate our nation’s $1.7 trillion a year outdoor recreation, natural resource protection, and historic preservation industry by conserving millions of acres in our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and wild and scenic river corridors via over 41,000 state and local projects. In 2019, the LWCF was permanently authorized. However, it has been chronically underfunded. We will spend $900 million to permanently fund the LWCF to safeguard natural areas, water resources, and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.
• End our National Park maintenance backlog. Our National Parks are one of our greatest national treasures. National Parks and park rangers help educate the public about the need to protect wild spaces, sequester carbon by protecting wilderness, and conserve historical, cultural and natural resources. Our National Parks have fallen into serious and dangerous disrepair. We will perform more than $25 billion of repairs and maintenance on roads, buildings, utility systems, and other structures and facilities across the National Park System. This will help ensure that park visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience connecting with nature for years to come.
2. End the Greed of the Fossil Fuel Industry and Hold them Accountable
For decades, fossil fuel corporations knowingly destroyed our planet for short-term profits. The fossil fuel industry has known since as early as the 1970s that their products were contributing to climate change and that climate change is real, dangerous, and preventable. Yet, they kept going. Instead of working to find solutions to the coming crisis, the fossil fuel industry poured billions into funding climate denialism, hiring lobbyists to fight even the slightest government regulation and oversight, and contributing to politicians who would put the interests of fossil fuel executives over the safety and security of the planet. Fossil fuel corporations have fought to escape liability for the pollution and destruction caused by their greed. They have evaded taxes, desecrated tribal lands, exploited workers and poisoned communities. Bernie believes this is criminal activity, and, when he is President, he will hold the fossil fuel industry accountable.
Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy cannot be done without standing up to fossil fuel corporations. Bernie will make fossil fuel corporations pay for the irreparable damage they have done to our communities and our planet, and he will ensure that all fossil fuel workers affected by the transition are entitled to new jobs, health care, pensions, and wage support. He will not allow fossil fuel executives to reap massive profits while endangering the future of humanity. He will not leave it to the market to determine the fate of the planet. The science is clear on what is necessary. As president, Bernie will take immediate action to end the fossil fuel industry’s greed once and for all.
As president, Bernie will:
• Make the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution by:
• Massively raising taxes on corporate polluters’ and investors’ fossil fuel income and wealth.
• Raising penalties on pollution from fossil fuel energy generation. The EPA has historically under-enforced the existing penalties for polluting under the Clean Air Act. As president, Bernie will raise and aggressively enforce those penalties.
• Requiring remaining fossil fuel infrastructure owners to buy federal fossil fuel risk bonds to pay for disaster impacts at the local level. Federal risk bonds can then be paid to counties and municipalities when there are fossil fuel spills, explosions, or accidents.
• Prosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused. When it was revealed in 2015 that the fossil fuel industry knew their actions were contributing to climate change decades ago, Bernie sent a letter to then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to open a federal investigation to find out whether the industry violated the law. President Bernie Sanders will ensure that his Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigate these companies and bring suits — both criminal and civil — for any wrongdoing, just as the federal government did with the tobacco industry in the 1980s. These corporations and their executives should not get away with hiding the truth from the American people. They should also pay damages for the destruction they have knowingly caused.
We will also support state and regional action to determine the projected harm to communities and pave the way for actions that remunerate devastated communities requiring care and repair and the dollars to do it.
• Create a National Climate Risk Report. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will jointly develop an economy-wide survey of climate risks. To create this report, the SEC will require corporations to audit and report their climate risks. The EPA will use the information to target the worst climate risks through economy-wide regulations to limit carbon pollution emissions under the Clean Air Act to achieve our carbon pollution reduction goals.
• Implement sanctions for corporations that violate our domestic climate goals. Polluters should not be allowed to run around our climate laws. Bernie will require the EPA and the Treasury Department to monitor investments and actions made around the globe to ensure our national carbon pollution emissions reduction goals are met. Bernie will impose sanctions on corporations and entities that threaten national and global emissions reduction goals.
• End fossil fuel subsidies. The federal government hands out almost $15 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. The American people will no longer be on the hook for this wasteful and dangerous spending when we are in the White House.
• Keep fossil fuels on public lands in the ground. Scientists have been clear that in order to solve the climate crisis, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We will immediately end all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands.
• Ban offshore drilling. If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combating climate change, and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, it is that Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling.
• End all new federal fossil fuel infrastructure permits. We will ensure fossil fuels stay in the ground by stopping the permitting and building of new fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and refining infrastructure. Additionally, Bernie will repeal Trump’s Executive Orders (Orders 13867 and 13868) which fast-tracked construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and revoke all federal permits for those projects. He will also deny all Section 401 permits for fossil fuel infrastructure.
• Require fossil fuel corporations repair leaking infrastructure, including natural gas and oil pipelines and drilling sites. Methane from fracked natural gas is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane leaked by the oil and gas industry each year is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon pollution emitted each year by the US coal industry. The Trump administration repealed important regulations that were based on Colorado’s regulation of leaking fracked natural gas pipeline and wellhead leaks. Those regulations must be reestablished and strengthened to ensure there are no more oil and fracked natural gas leaks.
• Clean up old and abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure. There are thousands of abandoned fossil fuel sites all over the country. As we move forward with this plan, there will likely be thousands more. We will put people to work in those communities cleaning up plants, pipelines, well heads, and refineries with good-paying, union jobs while ensuring the highest workplace safety standards, and repurposing these facilities for community needs.
• Ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining. Fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining are two particularly harmful methods used to extract fossil fuels. They make surrounding communities less healthy and less safe. They must be immediately banned.
• Ban imports and exports of fossil fuels. Congress’ decision in 2015 to lift the ban on exporting fossil fuels was a mistake. We must no longer export any fossil fuels. Our coal and natural gas are contributing to increased emissions abroad. We will also end the importation of fossil fuels to end incentives for extraction around the world. We can meet our energy needs and ensure energy security and independence without these imports.
• Divest federal pensions from fossil fuels. Federal employees’ pensions are currently invested in fossil fuels. That puts their pensions at risk. The federal government must protect and grow those pension funds by instead investing in the clean energy economy.
• Pressure financial institutions, universities, insurance corporations, and large institutional investors still invested in or insuring fossil fuels to transition those investments to clean energy bonds through executive action. When we are in the White House, we will establish new financial rules through the SEC and other regulatory agencies to pressure hedge funds, the insurance industry, and other large investors currently invested in fossil fuels to divest or pay for clean energy investments through clean energy bonds. We have seen a movement of activists force divestment from fossil fuel corporations, and we will support these movements in the White House.
• Place a fee on imported Carbon Pollution-Intensive Goods. We will make sure that goods sold into the U.S. are not able to undercut domestic manufacturing by placing a fee on the carbon intensity of those products, under the World Trade Organization General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Article 20. This will not only prevent U.S. manufacturers from being incentivized to leave the United States, it will also provide extra revenue to boost clean domestic manufacturing.
• Accurately estimate the climate impacts or benefits of all legislation proposed in Congress. In order to ensure our lawmakers keep us on the right path, we will require the Congressional Budget Office to coordinate with the EPA to provide a “climate score” for legislation, similar to the budget score legislation currently receives.
• Focus the federal government’s resources on transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy. This will require reorganizing the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Energy Information Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Federal Emergency Management Agency to prepare for the clean energy economy and climate impacts to eliminate or transition resources and offices historically used to facilitate fossil fuel extraction, transportation, refining, and use.
3) Rebuild Our Economy and Ensure Justice for Frontline Communities and a Just Transition for Workers
As we rapidly move toward renewable energy and energy efficiency, we must ensure that the workers employed in the fossil fuel industry see that their standards of living are not only protected, but improved. A just transition for workers means guaranteeing the incomes, training, and pensions of affected workers, as well as major targeted investments in fossil-fuel-dependent communities. The clean energy economy, which will create three times more jobs and a full-employment economy, must also build strong unions, high wages, and benefits. Finally, the Green New Deal will redress historical injustices, by tackling poverty, inequality, and the disproportionate impacts of environmental damage on poor neighborhoods, communities of color, First Nations, and rural America.
Bernie has fought for workers his entire career. He understands that coal miners and oil-rig operators are not the problem. Fossil fuel workers have powered the country for more than a century, working in dangerous and precarious jobs to provide for their families. They have given their lives on unsafe, under-regulated worksites, and they have seen their pensions get cut, their health care get stripped away, and their jobs disappear while fossil fuel executives rake in billions.
For too long, this country has neglected workers displaced by government policy. NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, which Bernie opposed, eliminated millions of jobs and left entire communities devastated. Bernie will put workers first. Full employment, economic opportunities and high-wage jobs in underserved areas will be supplemented by income, health care, education and pension protections. When we are in the White House, compensation and assistance for displaced workers will come first; the balance sheets of fossil fuel corporations and billionaire investors will come last.
As president, Bernie will:
• Ensure a just transition for energy workers. When we are in the White House, we will create millions of union, family-wage jobs through the Green New Deal in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants. We will spend $1.3 trillion to ensure that workers in the fossil fuel and other carbon intensive industries receive strong benefits, a living wage, training, and job placement. We will protect the right of all workers to form a union without threats or intimidation from management. The benefits include:
• Up to five years of a wage guarantee, job placement assistance, relocation assistance, health care, and a pension based on their previous salary.
• If workers would like to receive training for a different career path, they will receive either a four-year college education or vocational job training with living expenses provided. They will also be eligible for health care through Medicare for All.
• We will fully fund tenant-based Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure housing assistance to provide safe and affordable housing.
• If a worker is ready to retire, they may opt for pension support and access to health care through Medicare for All.
• Currently, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund and multi-employer miners pensions are paid for by coal companies. We will protect miners’ pensions and provide $15 billion for the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure it remains solvent as we transition away from coal.
• Require strong labor standards. All funding that flows from this plan should have the best labor standards attached. That means that all projects completed with funding from the Green New Deal will have fair family-sustaining wages, local hiring preferences, project labor and community agreements, including buying clean, American construction materials and paying workers a living wage to the greatest extent possible. We will improve worker and fenceline community safety standards at manufacturing and industrial plants. Additionally, we will ensure that workers remain safe on the job by providing $100 million in funding for the Department of Labor Susan Harwood training for high-risk industrial workers.
• Provide employers with tax credits to incentivize hiring transitioning employees. In order to ensure that workers who are displaced by this plan are able to find meaningful employment, we will provide the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to employers who hire them.
• Invest in workers and de-industrialized community economic development. Counties with more than 35 qualifying workers will be eligible for targeted economic development funding to ensure job creation in the same communities that will feel the impact of the transition most. Economic development funding will be distributed through an interagency effort spearheaded by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Funds will be allocated through the Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Assistance Programs and the Abandoned Mine Lands fund. Other eligible projects include drinking and waste water infrastructure, broadband, and electric grid infrastructure investments. These targeted investments are intended to supplement, not supplant infrastructure and economic development funding throughout the rest of this plan.
• Protecting the right of all workers to form a union without threat or intimidation from management. Currently, the clean energy economy jobs are not yet as densely unionized as fossil fuel and building trades jobs. We plan to change that. Jobs created through this plan will, to the extent feasible, be good-wage, union jobs. In order to do that, we must protect the right of all workers to form a union and collectively bargain by passing Bernie’s Workplace Democracy Plan. We will work with the trade union movement to establish a sectoral collective bargaining system that will work to set wages, benefits, and hours across entire industries, not just employer-by-employer. Unions not only ensure that workers receive fair pay and benefits, they fight to ensure that workers, first-responders, and fence-line communities are safe and healthy.
As president, Bernie will:
• Provide targeted regional economic development. Communities especially in need of assistance during our transition to a clean energy economy will be eligible for an additional funding for economic development investments through regional commissions and authorities. Our federal regional commissions make targeted economic development investments in rural America. These commissions have funded projects that enhance workforce competitiveness, build and repair infrastructure, and increase community capacity like broadband projects, clean drinking water, organic farming, and energy efficiency.
An additional $5.9 billion in funding will be distributed as follows:
• $2.53 billion for the Appalachian Regional Commission
• $506.4 million for the Delta Regional Authority
• $304 million for the Denali Commission
• $405 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission
• $94 million for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission
• $2.02 billion for Economic Development Assistance Programs
• Infrastructure investments for impacted communities. We will provide $130 billion for counties impacted by climate change with funding for water, broadband, and electric grid infrastructure investments.
A Just Transition for Frontline Communities
There is no doubt that the poor and marginalized suffer from the impacts of pollution and climate disruption — particularly communities of color. They are at the frontlines of the climate emergency. For example, of the 73 waste-burning incinerators across the United States, an astounding 79 percent are located within three miles of low-income and minority neighborhoods, which are exposed to mercury, lead, and soot. The Green New Deal is not only a serious climate plan, but an opportunity to uproot historical injustices and inequities to advance social, racial, and economic justice, including redressing the exclusion of black, brown, Native American, and other vulnerable communities from the programs that made up the original New Deal.
As president, Bernie will:
• Ensure an inclusive, comprehensive process from start to finish. Workers and communities on the frontline of fossil fuel extraction, transportation and use and those most vulnerable to climate impacts must be involved from the creation and implementation of regulations and protocols to the distribution of funds and carrying out the work of the Green New Deal.
• Follow Environmental Justice principles. It is an unfortunate reality that institutional racism also impacts environmental health, and thus the public health and safety of millions of low-income families, people of color, and tribal communities. African American and Latinx communities deal with 56 percent and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they create. Tribal lands are only 4 percent of the United States land base, yet a quarter of our nation’s 1,322 Superfund hazardous waste sites, as well as the vast majority of our abandoned uranium mines, are in Indian country. Additionally, federal leasing of public lands for fossil fuels extraction significantly impacts numerous indigenous communities that share more than 3,000 miles of contiguous border with National Forest lands.
The Green New Deal must serve to address modern and historical inequities and environmental racism. We will follow Environmental Justice principles and:
• Ensure the full and equal enforcement of all environmental, civil rights, and public health laws and aggressive prosecution of violators. Hazardous waste sites, chemical and industrial plants, aging lead pipes, and decaying infrastructure that endanger the health of all citizens will be fully regulated to ensure the health and safety of all. The EPA’s Office of Civil Rights will step up its investigations into alleged environmental justice violations, including corporate polluters as well as the elected officials who enable them.
• Ensure that Green New Deal jobs and job training resources are made available to low-income and disadvantaged communities equitably, and ensure equal access to clean energy, electrification, efficiency, and transportation funding, grants, and other incentives.We will promote cleaner manufacturing and materials recycling, safe conditions for farm workers, and a clean energy economy, while providing safe, healthy job sites and other economic benefits to people of color.
• Focus job training and local hiring to reflect the racial and gender diversity of the community receiving federal investments. Federal procurement will prioritize minority- and women-owned businesses, cooperatives and employee-owned firms, and community-owned and municipal enterprises. Programs such as the Historically Underutilized Business Zones will be expanded under the Green New Deal to promote job growth in economically distressed communities.
• Update permitting rules that allow polluters to target poor communities for polluting infrastructure. Cumulative environmental impacts will be measured and we will require polluters to remediate them. Precaution for the health and safety of our children and planet should be valued above profit.
• Ensure that all agencies abide by Executive Order 12898, which according to the EPA requires agencies to “identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law.”
• Extend civil rights protections to ensure full access to the courts for poor and minority communities to seek legal protections by overturning the Sandoval Supreme Court decision that set an unreasonable burden of proof of racism for claims of environmental racism, including disparate and cumulative exposure to environmental health risks.
• Follow the Principles of Environmental Justice adopted at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. The goals and outcomes of the Green New Deal should continue to be developed under the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing with strong and consistent consultation with the communities most affected by the currently unequal enforcement of environmental laws.
• Ensure that funding from the Green New Deal for parks and public lands are distributed equitably in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Superfund hazardous waste sites should be fully remediated, instead of simply covered up to make urban parks.
• Fully survey and track pollution in vulnerable communities. The EPA EnviroScreen will be enhanced to provide comprehensive information about cumulative environmental impacts. States will be required to report progress made on environmental justice every five years. Traditionally under-represented communities will receive significant public education, technical assistance, and outreach as part of agency rulemakings and public commenting processes to elicit participation.
• Promote urban sustainability initiatives to improve the environmental and social conditions of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color without rendering those neighborhoods inaccessible for future residents of limited economic means.
• Ensure the creation and implementation of the Green New Deal is accessible to people with disabilities and non-English speakers. All publications will be in multiple languages, including Braille, and meetings will have language interpreters, including sign language, as appropriate.
• Create equitable hiring standards. We will ensure that all the funding that stems from the Green New Deal plan follows standards and guidelines to ensure the jobs created by investing in infrastructure are jobs are available first to displaced workers, veterans, formerly incarcerated people, people with disabilities, and people from vulnerable communities.
• Impacted communities, including Tribes, will receive dedicated grant funding. Funding that flows from this plan will prioritize, to the greatest extent possible, communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, transportation and use and those most vulnerable to climate impacts. Funding will be prioritized for low-income communities, communities of color, people with varied abilities, Tribes, rural communities, and community-based organizations and community development funds. Each agency involved in carrying out the Green New Deal will be required to coordinate in an interagency process to ensure local communities are involved in carrying out this plan.
• The first two years of this plan will be spent very aggressively laying down a social safety net to ensure that no one is left behind. Because this plan is so comprehensive in ensuring we solve the climate crisis, we must prioritize establishing a social safety net in the first years of the implementation of this plan:
• Energy assistance. While we do not expect energy prices to spike because the federal government is going to weatherize homes, electrify heating, and keep electricity prices stable, we still want to ensure that families are protected during the transition. We will expand the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by $25 billion to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Additionally, the program will be expanded to provide 10 percent of program costs for maintenance of new efficient heating and cooling systems and technical assistance for the installation and use of new furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and other upgrades for the duration of the 10-year transition.
• Ensure a hunger-free transition.Because the cost of energy and food are so intertwined, we will provide $215.8 billion for free, universal school meals, including breakfast, lunch and snacks. We will expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $311 billion to increase the benefits from the “thrifty” plan which provides inadequate benefits to the more generous “low-cost” food plan, include those with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, remove punitive work requirements, remove barriers for college students to access SNAP, and ensure people are not denied benefits due to past interaction with the criminal justice system. We will also expand the SNAP program and benefits to the people of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa so they are on par with the benefits in the continental United States.
• Ensure Tribes and Native American people benefit from this plan.
The federal government will abide by treaties and respect tribal sovereignty while upholding the trust responsibility in every step of this plan.
• Tribes will be eligible for all funding available through this plan. Tribes will be able to request technical assistance from agencies carrying out the Green New Deal to equip them with the resources needed to co-manage resources and review federal government actions through the consultation and consent process.
• We will abide by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure the free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous Peoples.
• Invest in Environmental Justice centered community economic development.
• We will repair, dismantle, and convert fossil fuel infrastructure on our federal public lands.We must not only clean up existing blighted sites, but as we transition away from fossil fuels, we must ensure no infrastructure is abandoned in a way that would create health or safety dangers for the surrounding community. We will spend $100 billion on fossil fuel well and mine cleanup.
• We will clean up Brownfield and Superfund sites. We will clean up and repair thousands of contaminated sites. We will invest $238 billion to clean up Superfund sites and $150 billion to clean up and revitalize Brownfields, and other areas and communities that have been polluted by the fossil fuel, chemical and mining industries.
Empowering Farmers, Foresters & Ranchers to Address Climate Change and Protect Ecosystems
Our current food system accounts for 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Not only can we drastically reduce on-farm emissions, farmers have the potential to actually sequester 10 percent of all human-caused emissions in the soil. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the industries most vulnerable to climate change. We need to incentivize farming systems that help farmers both mitigate climate change and build resilience to its impacts.
Agriculture has a huge potential to sequester carbon. We need to employ farms of all sizes and production models to transition to ecologically regenerative practices to combat climate change. According to research at the Rodale Institute, agriculture could sequester 37 gigatons of carbon annually worldwide. Sadly, just 10 percent of farmers receive 75 percent of agricultural subsidies in the U.S., and those subsidies don’t prioritize carbon sequestration or soil health. We need to start by supporting all farmers not just a wealthy few and incentivizing conservation not over-production.
As president, Bernie will:
farmers to develop ecologically regenerative farming systems that sharply
reduce emissions; sequester carbon; and heal our soils, forests, and prairie
• Help farms of all sizes transition to ecologically regenerative agricultural practices that rebuild rural communities, protect the climate, and strengthen the environment with an investment of $410 billion. This assistance will focus on both sequestering carbon and increasing resiliency in the face of extreme weather events. Funds will be used to offset the costs of enterprise-level changes and barriers to transition, including design, technical assistance, purchasing equipment, installing infrastructure, site remediation, contract termination, and repaying farm-debt.
• We will set aside $41 billion to help large confined animal feeding operations that have a large environmental impacts transition to ecologically regenerative practices.
• We will set aside $41 billion for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers who have been historically underserved by USDA programs.
• Pay farmers to keep carbon in the soil. We will pay farmers $160 billion for the soil health improvements they make and for the carbon they sequester, which both mitigates climate change and helps farmers adapt to it.
• Research and development. We will invest $1.48 billion in research to develop new, region-appropriate farming techniques and seeds. In order to respond to climate change and heal the environment, we will need to invest in non-chemical intensive practices and seed varieties that are tailored to each region’s climate and soil.
• Fund farmland conservation. We will spend $24.85 billion to bolster existing programs like the Conservation Stewardship program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement program, and the Regional Conservation Partnership program that help farmers make conservation improvements on their farm. These programs have made demonstrated gains in environmental quality.
• Transition to organic farming. We will spend $500 million to help farmers that are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) transition their land to new organic farmers. As CRP contracts end, we will help connect these farmers with new organic farmers who want to continue rigorous conservation practices on a working landscape.
• Renewable energy on the farm. Farmers should be able to grow and harvest renewable energy, in addition to their crops. We will invest $1.4 billion in the Rural Energy for America Program for clean energy options to both diversify income streams, save money, and eliminate fossil fuel dependence on farms.
• Enforce the Clear Air and Water Acts on large factory farms and ensure all farmers have access to the tools and resources they need to address pollution. According to the EPA Inspector General, the EPA has spent more than 10 years and $15 million failing to develop a reliable method for measuring whether factory farms are complying with the Clean Air act and other regulations of dangerous air pollution. Industrial animal feeding operations, and the millions of pounds of untreated waste they create, are a major source of air pollution and driver of climate change. We will end this weak oversight of factory farms and ensure every farmer has the resources to address all forms of pollution.
• Ensure all rural residents, including farmers, and farmworkers have the right to protect their families and properties from chemical and biological pollution, including pesticide and herbicide drift. Farm practices should not infringe on the ability of other farmers and neighbors to carry out the normal activities of farming and rural lifestyles. We will give rural residents legal recourse to sue farmers who pollute their property.
• Invest in family farms and rural communities — not corporate ownership.
• Break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities. According to Food & Water Watch, “consolidation in the pork packing industry has contributed to the 82 percent decline in the number of hog farms in Iowa between 1982 and 2007.” In our country, just four companies slaughter 85 percent of beef cattle. USDA reports that between 2000 and 2015 “soybean sales from the largest four sellers rose from 51 to 76 percent.” Additionally, after the Bayer-Monsanto merger, the two largest conglomerates now control 78 percent of the corn seed market. If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, he would say, “break them up.” And, working together, that is exactly what we are going to do. This is consistent with our Revitalizing Rural America plan.
• Ensure farmers are paid a fair price for their products with tools like supply management and grain reserves. Supply management policies today promote over-production, which comes with harmful and unnecessary climate pollution emissions. We will discourage over production and ensure farmers receive a fair price for their products by matching the supply with demand using the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which starts with source reduction. This will minimize the impact on the environment by not producing more food than is needed, and ensures we have a reserve of food in case of natural disaster or emergency.
• Re-establish and strengthen the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. Lobbyists and the Trump administration have gutted GIPSA and blocked rules helping farmers. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition details, “the 2008 Farm Bill required USDA to write regulations to empower GIPSA to provide basic protections for farmers who do business with these companies. But when USDA tried to write the regulations, the meat and poultry industries launched a full-scale attack to get GOP lawmakers to pass appropriations riders to block USDA from finalizing those farmer protections.” Working together, we will restore the agency that enforces antitrust laws in the meatpacking industry – an agency that Trump eliminated.
• Ensure farmers have the right to repair their own equipment. In rural America today, farmers can’t even repair their own tractors or other equipment because of the greed of companies like John Deere. As noted in Wired Magazine, “Farmers can’t change engine settings, can’t retrofit old equipment with new features, and can’t modify their tractors to meet new environmental standards on their own” without going through an authorized repair agent. When we are in the White House, we will pass a national right-to-repair law that gives every farmer in America full rights over the machinery they buy.
• Reform patent laws to prevent predatory lawsuits from massive agribusinesses like Bayer/Monsanto. We cannot continue to allow Monsanto to control 80 percent of U.S. corn and more than 90 percent of U.S. soybean seed patents — a situation that has only gotten worse after the Trump administration approved Monsanto’s disastrous merger with Bayer. We are going to reform our patent laws to protect farmers from predatory patent lawsuits from companies like Monsanto.
• Reform the agricultural subsidy system so more money goes to small and medium sized farms. We cannot continue to allow the top 10 percent of farms to receive 77 percent of all government subsidies — with much of this money going to absentee farm owners, who live in big cities, renting out their land.
• Strengthen organic standards. Currently, massive farms are able to claim organic status without meeting all of the requirements, forcing smaller producers out of the market. We will address this by starting with implementing two rules to require dairy production to be on pasture and require poultry to have outdoor access.
• Invest in historically underserved communities to grow the number of farmers of color. In 2017, 95 percent of all farmers accounted for were white, with black farmers reporting ownership declining at 10 times the rate it did for white farmers. That is in addition to black farmers losing 80 percent of their land between 1910 and 2007, in no small part due to systematic discrimination. Today, only about 5 percent of black farmers reporting earning over $50,000, compared to 15 percent of white farmers. Additionally, 52 percent of American women farmers said they felt gender discrimination. When we are in the White House we will eradicate discrimination in agricultural land and opportunities.
• In addition to the $41 billion he will invest in socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers as president, Bernie will:
• Help beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers get fair access to land and resources by providing $50 million for a Disadvantaged and Beginning Farm State Coordinator program. The coordinator will also help farmers access programs and fill out burdensome paperwork that can be a barrier to participation for small farms.
• Provide oral translation assistance at all USDA, FDA, and DOJ offices for non-English speakers. Farmers across the U.S. are prevented from accessing government resources because of language and literacy barriers. We will require USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Justice to provide translation assistance need to help all farmers regardless of their primary language.
• Invest $1.12 billion in Tribal land access and extension programs. We will invest in programs to help Tribes and Tribal corporations access, acquire, and consolidate land on their reservations. We will also ensure federal resources to facilitate knowledge transfer, technical assistance, and educational activities on Tribal land.
• Invest $127 million in the Highly Fractionated Indian Land Grant Program to reunify divided and fractured ownership of tribal land.
• Invest $600 million in the Indian Tribal Land Acquisition Grant Program for Tribes and Tribal corporations to purchase land on their own reservations.
• Invest $400 million in the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program to provide educational outreach and research-based knowledge on Tribal lands through the USDA Extension program.
• Strengthen outreach to minority and socially disadvantaged farmers. The Farmer Opportunity Training and Outreach program helps coordinate USDA training and education for beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program has been historically underfunded, so we will spend $1 billion to expand it to ensure those who have been chronically underserved by the USDA have access to the resources they need to thrive.
• Create a pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers and end exclusions for agricultural workers in labor laws. We must ensure farmworkers have the right to overtime pay, strong safety protections, and the right to collectively bargain. Currently, farm workers are exempt from many labor laws that other workers have benefitted from for years. Farming is a dangerous and demanding profession. We need to protect these workers as we do others
• Reform H-2A agricultural work visas to substantially raise prevailing wages, allow workers to move between employers, increase enforcement and hold employers who mistreat workers accountable, and include a pathway to citizenship for those who want it.
consumers with local farms and healthy foods.
• Establish a victory lawns and gardens initiative through a $36 billion investment to help urban, rural, and suburban Americans transform their lawns into food-producing or reforested spaces that sequester carbon and save water. Lawns account for 40 million acres in America, and we spend tens of billions of dollars each year taking care of them each year. Let’s reinvest that money in climate smart practices that encourage everyone to be a part of the solution.
• Invest $14.7 billion in cooperatively owned grocery stores. Local groceries and co-ops are more likely to buy local products, which will help grow markets for farmers to sell their goods. We will also use these funds to bring grocery stores to food deserts ensuring all people have access to healthy, local food.
• Incentivize schools to procure locally produced foods. Institutional purchasing can be a huge boost to local producers and build local farm economies. We will give a meal incentive for schools that acquire at least 30 percent of their food from local sources.
• Invest $31 billion in local food processing, including slaughter and dairy processing. Rampant consolidation in processing has led to a lack of facilities for small-scale, local producers. Investing in local facilities will help smaller producers to compete with the Tyson Foods of the world.
• Allow meat slaughtered at state inspected facilities to be sold across state lines. State inspected slaughter facilities must meet or exceed federal regulations. Currently, imported meat must meet the same standards as meat from a federally inspected slaughterhouses and it may cross state lines. We need to level the playing field for locally produced meat.
• Bolster existing programs that help farmers process their products on farm with a $263 million investment. There are already some programs that support on-farm processing and farmers markets. We need to continue to support these efforts as we expand opportunities.
• Help states develop food recovery and composting programs with a $160 billion investment to help solve hunger. If food waste were its own country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. Meanwhile, 40 million people in this country are food insecure. We need to give states the resources they need to reduce food waste and hunger in their communities.
• Enforce country of origin labeling. Unfair trade policy has let foreign countries overturn our country-of-origin-labeling laws even though 90 percent of the American people support country-of-origin labeling. We must respect the will of the people and allow them to know where their food is coming from.
• Incentivize community ownership of farmland. One of the barriers to being able to choose a career in ecologically regenerative farming is the cost of acquiring farmland. We want communities to be able to join together to own farmland to help people grow our local, ecologically regeneratively produced food and help solve the climate crisis and will provide government assistance to do so. We will support a robust future for rural America that will be essential to addressing the climate crisis. This is consistent with our Revitalizing Rural America plan.
PO Box 391
Burlington, VT 05402