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Bernie Sanders rolls out $16 trillion ‘Green New Deal’ plan

2019-08-24

In this Aug. 11 photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. (John Locher/AP)

Bernie Sanders rolled out an ambitious $16 trillion plan to combat climate change Thursday, apparently trying to position himself as the most aggressive 2020 candidate on the hot button issue.

The Vermont senator’s plan is the most expensive climate blueprint floated by a Democratic presidential hopeful and builds on the non-binding “Green New Deal” resolution introduced by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley earlier this year. Sanders’ measure curiously even has the same name.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of America — and really, in the history of humanity," Sanders said in a statement rolling out his own “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.”

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday evening, had billed himself as the crammed primary field’s climate candidate and his exit presented an opportunity for other contenders to seize on the issue.

Sanders appeared intent on taking over Inslee’s mantle.

For starters, Sanders’ plan calls for immediately declaring climate change a national emergency, which would free up federal resources that are otherwise kept under tight lids.

The optimistic plan then envisions completely weening the U.S. off of fossil fuels by 2050 by beefing up solar and wind technology, putting up $2.2 trillion in grants for low- and middle-income families to retrofit homes and businesses to become more climate friendly while also dishing out millions on revolutionizing the nation’s transportation system through investments in electric vehicles, high-speed rail and expanded public transit.

The plan would also put up more than $500 billion for modernizing the U.S. electrical grid to be more climate friendly.

Like Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” Sanders’ plan envisions that it will pay for itself within 15 years by creating 20 million new jobs that will produce fresh tax revenue.

Simultaneously, Sanders proposes to scrap existing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry while increasing taxes in other areas.

Republicans and some economists are harshly critical of “Green New Deal”-style policies and say they would tank the economy and result in across-the-board tax hikes.

But Sanders and his wing of the Democratic Party counter that if climate change isn’t dealt with in a radical way, there might not be an economy to care for.

“The scientific community is telling us in no uncertain terms," Sanders’ plan states, “that we have no time 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.”