Addressing the Threat of Climate Change
Climate change is not some distant threat — it’s happening now: July 2019 was the hottest month on record for the planet, towns are seeing so-called “hundred-year” floods every few years, and millions around the world are fleeing climate change-related drought and famine. Without deliberate and bold action, we risk an incredible human toll from disasters and health impacts, preventable national security threats, and trillions of dollars in economic losses. As we address the existential threat of climate change, we must also confront deep and persistent economic inequality: the economy isn’t working for millions of Americans, with income and wealth more concentrated among the ultra-wealthy than at any time since before the Great Depression.
The time to act is now for a 100% clean energy economy, millions of good-paying jobs, and a guaranteed right to clean air, water, and soil for all Americans.
Cory was an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate because he believes we need to act with an urgency and force that meets the scale of the challenge that we face. As president, Cory will unite Americans to heal our atmosphere, our lands, and our communities with a bold vision for achieving a 100% clean energy economy quickly and equitably. Together, we will create millions of new high-paying jobs building the energy technologies, infrastructure, buildings, and vehicles of the future. We will invent new technologies and materials as innovative and resilient as we are. And we will be a moral leader on the world stage.
The reality is that we can’t afford not to act. We spend more than $100 billion each year solely on the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, and have spent $450 billion on climate-related disasters in the last three years alone. A recent paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the U.S. economy could shrink by more than 10 percent by 2100 if we don’t act decisively on climate change.
As we chart a new path forward, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our nation’s history is defined by our ability to meet seemingly impossible challenges — but also by our failure to ensure all share in the progress. We ended slavery and replaced it with systematized discrimination and mass incarceration. We climbed out of the Great Recession, creating wealth for Wall Street and cities on the coasts, and yet wages for most remain frustratingly stagnant. And in the wake of decades of remarkable industrial growth, low-income communities, indigenous communities, rural communities, and communities of color bear the disproportionate burden of environmental neglect, pollution, and exploitation.
As we set out to tackle the existential challenge of climate change, we must ensure that all people and all communities, especially the ones that have been traditionally left behind — urban and rural, communities of color, low-income, and indigenous — share in our progress. Acting together, we can and must find our common purpose, and build a sustainable and equitable future for all.
Cory’s plan will:
- Make the most sweeping investment to advance environmental justice, because we can’t move forward into a clean energy economy without righting the wrongs of decades of pollution and corporate greed in marginalized communities, and without an informed commitment to not repeating these wrongs.
- Directly invest over $3 trillion dollars by 2030 to fund the transition to a 100% carbon-neutral economy by no later than 2045 and spurring economic activity, creating millions of jobs where they are needed most, and empowering communities to have control and ownership over their energy systems and local environments.
- Accelerate the end of fossil fuels by immediately eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies, barring all new fossil fuel leases, phasing out fracking, and instituting a carbon fee and progressive climate dividend — achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030.
- Supercharge innovation and a clean energy workforce through a $400 billion community-based investment in every corner of the country in the basic research, applied research, and commercialization of clean energy technologies and solutions for hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy.
- Unleash natural climate solutions through massive reforestation and coastal wetlands restoration.
- Invest over $100 billion by 2030 through existing USDA conservation programs to make farms more climate resilient and enable our farmers and ranchers to be part of the climate change solution.
- Lead the world toward ambitious and binding emissions commitments.
- Center people and communities in all of the above, through strong labor standards, funding disaster relief and preparedness, incentivizing distributed ownership of renewable technologies to ensure its benefits are widely enjoyed, engaging with communities to make their own energy and environmental choices, and ensuring fairness for workers and communities.
Cory will send sweeping legislation to Congress to enact his plan for climate action. But he won’t wait for Congress to act. Cory will use executive authority to advance his climate agenda, including through agency rule-making, executive orders, and discretionary funding priorities.
Immediate executive actions Cory will take include:
- Drastically increasing EPA enforcement actions against polluting companies.
- Reinstating and strengthening CAFE standards that the Trump administration is rolling back.
- Establishing a regulatory requirement that all new passenger vehicles after 2030 be zero emission.
- Signing an executive order to bar all new onshore and offshore fossil fuel leases.
- Implementing a requirement for fossil fuel companies to stop methane leaks from both new and existing sources.
- Rescinding Trump’s executive orders to shrink national monuments and beginning to designate additional lands and waters for protection.
- Revoking Trump executive orders to approve the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and that streamline approvals of other fossil fuel projects.
- Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and bringing the international community together around more ambitious emission reduction commitments.
- Beginning to negotiate new trade agreements that include progressive environmental and labor standards.
- Ending the granting of waivers to big oil companies from their blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Building on the above actions, his White House will coordinate an interagency process involving every Cabinet member and agency head to identify opportunities to cut emissions, advance environmental justice, and create clean energy jobs.
Environmental justice: Putting people over polluters
Cory is the only U.S. Senator who goes home to a low-income, Black and Brown community. Low-income communities, indigenous communities, rural communities, and communities of color are already being disproportionately harmed by extreme weather events and other climate change impacts. When increased flooding caused by climate change happens in these communities, it bears the added risk of poisoning residents with runoff from local superfund sites or abandoned mines. In order to create environmental justice and economic justice in these vulnerable communities, we must protect them from the worsening effects of climate change. This means ridding them of the scourge of legacy pollution, and replacing it with clean land, air and water — bringing economic and environmental justice to those who have for too long been denied both.
The time for talk is over. As president, Cory will act.
Cory sees environmental injustice firsthand in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, where high levels of lead were recently found in the water; where air pollution causes child asthma rates multiple times higher than in nearby towns; and where the soil is unsafe in parts of the city because of contamination from industrial pollution.
And Newark isn’t alone. Americans across the country, especially those from low-income communities, communities of color, and indigenous communities, have been left behind to bear the costs of decades of poisonous pollution:
Take Duplin County, North Carolina, where longtime residents now share their backyards with over two million hogs, and where that hog waste is stored in open-air lagoons and sprayed, untreated, across fields adjacent to people’s homes and churches. Residents cannot open their windows or hang their clothes outside because of the stench.
Or St. James Parish, Louisiana, in a heavily industrialized region along the Mississippi River infamously nicknamed “Cancer Alley,” where residents who have battled chronic illnesses and lost countless friends and relatives to cancer, but who cannot afford to move away – no one wants to buy their homes because of the pollution and associated health effects.
Or Flint, Michigan, where families still struggle to trust the safety of their drinking water, and the over 3,000 areas across the country where the blood lead levels in children are double that of the kids in Flint at the height of that city’s crisis.
This crisis is what happens when corporate polluters are allowed to privatize their profits and externalize their costs on to everyone else — when they’re given license to do things they would never accept in their own neighborhoods or for their own children. Decades of federal policy have padded these companies’ profits and made the crisis worse, not only through lackluster oversight and disinvestment in low-income and Black and brown communities, but by literally subsidizing corporate polluters and the fossil fuel industry. We spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing oil, gas, and coal production through tax expenditures, direct spending, and regulatory relief for fossil fuel companies. The Trump tax bill only made it worse; the 17 largest publicly-traded American oil companies received a combined $25 billion in tax savings. We shouldn’t be surprised: a recent study found that between 2000 and 2016, corporate interests spent more than $2 billion lobbying against federal action on climate.
It’s time to put people over polluters. Cory will send legislation to Congress creating the United States Environmental Justice Fund (EJ Fund), charged with coordinating the most ambitious-ever federal effort to advance environmental justice and invest in communities long left behind. The EJ Fund would be seeded with $50 billion each year.
By the end of Cory’s second term in office, the U.S. Environmental Justice Fund will:
- Replace all residential, school, and daycare lead drinking water service lines and remediate all housing units and schools that contain peeling or chipping lead-based paint and high levels of lead-contaminated dust. It is a national disgrace that any child could be poisoned by the air they breathe or the water they drink--and our government do virtually nothing about it. According to a 2017 study, 1.2 million children in the U.S. have unsafe blood lead levels — which is linked to learning disabilities, school suspensions, and potentially even increased rates of crime, as well as increased mortality. Black children are nearly three times more likely than white children to have unsafe blood lead levels.
- Ensure that every household in the U.S. has adequate plumbing, including a functional wastewater disposal system. Every American should have access to plumbing and wastewater systems. And yet, the latest American Community Survey found that nearly 630,000 occupied households lack complete plumbing facilities. The Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey in 2015 found that nearly 200,000 housing units lack any sewage system, which means they do not have an adequate method for disposing of human waste. Lack of access is overwhelmingly concentrated among communities of color: a full one in eight Native Americans do not have reliable access to water and Black families are twice as likely as white families to live without modern plumbing. The situation is dire in rural communities, too, where more than 600,000 people live in homes without adequate plumbing.
- Initiate the cleanup of every “orphaned” shovel-ready Superfund site. Across the country, there are more than 600 “orphaned” Superfund sites — former manufacturing facilities, landfills, mines, and other contaminated sites where the polluting companies cannot be identified or have gone bankrupt. Studies have shown that children born to mothers who lived within two miles of these Superfunds are 7.4% more likely to repeat a grade, and 6.6% more likely to be suspended. These issues disproportionately impact communities of color: Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Black communities are all significantly more likely to live near a Superfund site than their white counterparts of the same socioeconomic status. In addition to funding from the EJ Fund, we will reauthorize and triple the Superfund tax on chemical and oil companies to ensure that polluters pay for the damage they have done.
- Clean up every abandoned coal, uranium, and hard rock mine in the country. Abandoned coal mines contaminate groundwater, create dangerous arsenic trailing piles, and present threats to physical safety across more than six million acres of American land and water. These abandoned mines are primarily concentrated in pockets of this country that are too often forgotten by federal public policy: rural areas across the Rocky Mountains, Midwest, and Appalachia. Similarly, living near an abandoned uranium mine carries health risks including lung cancer, bone cancer, and impaired kidney function. Native American miners, essential to the nation’s nuclear development efforts, are particularly at risk; 1,200 of the nation’s 4,000 abandoned uranium mines are located on or near Navajo reservations.
- Clean up all contaminated former DOD sites (FUDS) and Atomic Energy Commission (FUSRAP) sites. Today, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers, 2,700 FUDS require clean up. Proximity to FUDS has been linked to elevated levels of the toxic compounds, including Hexachlorobenzene, a possible-carcinogen that has been banned globally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Additionally, there are 25 active FUSRAP sites — contaminated and potentially radioactive sites stemming from early atomic weapons and energy development--across 10 states. It’s simple: the government created this mess; now it needs to clean it up.
- Plant 100 million trees in urban areas by 2030 to reduce air pollution causing disproportionate harm in low-income and Black and Brown communities. Air quality is consistently worse in low-income communities and communities of color; in fact, Black children are nearly twice as likely to suffer from asthma than white children. These public health disparities have only grown under the Trump administration, which has slashed spending for critical clean air and water programs at the EPA. Planting 100 million trees in urban areas will not only reduce air pollution and prevent asthma attacks, but also sequester carbon, lower temperatures and reduce electricity bills, and provide job opportunities in low income communities and communities of color.
- Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide skills and work experience for young people from low income communities, communities of color and indigenous communities. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of the most popular elements of FDR’s New Deal. Cory’s plan will reestablish the CCC in order to provide over 150,000 young people from EJ communities the opportunity by 2030 to gain skills training and perform reforestation and wetlands restoration work on federal lands as a pathway to careers in these fields.
- Hold corporate integrators legally responsible for the harm CAFOs are causing to communities of color, low income communities and indigenous communities. Cory will include in the legislation he sends to Congress to create the EJ Fund provisions to hold corporate integrators strictly liable for the health problems, water pollution and other harm caused to nearby families from CAFO animal waste. Currently integrators can shift responsibility for this waste onto contract farmers, who are often left with few options for economic viability. Cory will hold integrators — who make billions of dollars of profits each year — legally responsible for its waste and the harm and pollution it causes.
These programs will not only dramatically improve community health and safety, but they will create family-sustaining jobs, spur economic development and diversification, and help communities and regions that have been historically left behind.
The U.S. EJ Fund would be led by a White House Advisor for Environmental Justice, as well as three co-chairs: the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chair of the White House Council for Environmental Quality, and the Director of the Office of Management. An advisory council of frontline EJ community and national leaders would inform the design and execution of all EJ Fund activities.
Several of the core functions of the EJ Fund would be carried out by existing federal agencies and programs, only with enhanced funding, accountability, and transparency. In addition, the EJ Fund would be responsible for several new, critical functions, including:
- Designing and managing two new flexible grant programs in close coordination with fenceline communities: an “Environmental Justice Innovation Fund,” charged with researching, testing and scaling evidence-based strategies to advance environmental justice; and an “Emergency Environmental Justice Action Program,” informed by the government’s slow response to the Flint water crisis, which could work with states and localities to expeditiously respond to acute Environmental Justice crises without delays as a result of Congressional or agency inaction. It could help residents of communities like Denmark, South Carolina, who for years questioned the safety of their water without adequate accountability or assistance;
- Issuing cross-agency guidance to ensure local residents and workers benefit from new investment. This should include priorities for contracting with local and minority-owned small businesses; building capacity in Minority Serving Institutions like HBCUs; inclusion of Buy America standards for all projects; enforcement of Davis-Bacon to ensure workers are paid prevailing wages; and use of project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, local hire, and other provisions to support good-paying, union jobs;
- Making recommendations to federal agencies and Congress on policy to advance environmental justice across programs and agencies in coordination with community leaders, build climate and community resilience, and ensure a fair transition for workers of the fossil fuel industry into high-growth, well-paying jobs; and
- Developing metrics and accountability measures to target funds to the highest-impact projects, monitor progress, and ensure projects are completed expeditiously and with community input.
Hold corporate polluters responsible
The Trump administration has gutted the EPA, rolled back clean air and clean water protections, and allowed polluters to go virtually unchecked. Last year, the EPA conducted less than half the federal inspections and evaluations it did in 2010, and collected just $3.95 billion from polluters for injunctive relief — including the lowest amount in fines to polluters in the 15-year existence of the enforcement office. Pollution cases referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution stand at their lowest level since 1988.
Cory would protect low-income communities, indigenous communities and communities of color that have disproportionately felt the impact of corporate pollution by supercharging EPA enforcement power and holding polluters accountable. Building on his historic Environmental Justice Act, as president Cory would:
- Force companies that pollute to pay to clean up their pollution, instead of taxpayers footing the bill, by reauthorizing and tripling the Superfund tax on chemical and oil companies;
- Reinvest in communities by extending and doubling the fees on coal mine operators to help fund the cleanup of all abandoned mines within 10 years and provide opportunities for new economic development;
- Protect marginalized communities suffering from environmental injustices by increasing staffing tenfold at the EPA’s Environmental Justice Office and the External Civil Rights Enforcement Office, with resources specifically allocated to ensure timely cleanup of Superfund sites;
- Step up efforts to defend communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities by doubling staffing in all EPA enforcement offices;
- Safeguard the basic human right of safe drinking water, by increasing resources for investigation and enforcement of violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act standards for public water systems;
- End the plague on communities caused by lead paint by requiring responsible paint companies to pay for cleanup and abatement;
- Strengthen bankruptcy laws so that polluting companies cannot evade responsibility for environmental cleanups, as well as owed worker benefits and pensions;
- Put the overall health of communities ahead of corporations by requiring the EPA to consider the level of existing pollution in the area before granting or renewing new Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act permits.
- Rescind approvals for the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and require free, prior, and informed consent from tribal nations for all future major energy projects on federal lands that would affect those communities. Honor and enforce the federal government’s government-to-government consultation obligations with tribal nations for all actions or inactions that may impact tribal interests.
Achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2045 and create millions of new jobs
IPCC scientists and the National Climate Assessment have both made clear that we need to achieve net-zero global emissions by 2050. But in order for the U.S. to lead, we need to move even faster. While places like Europe and China are investing in the infrastructure to support a clean energy economy, the U.S. is falling behind. We need a power grid that can send power in different directions, charge car batteries when energy supplies are high, and “talk” to appliances to tell them when to draw more or less from the grid. Cory’s plan will invest in a next-generation smart grid and nationwide EV charging network, so that it can better handle utility-scale renewables, distributed renewables, energy efficiency measures and appliances, long-distance transmission, energy storage, and a fully electrified transportation sector.
If we are serious about getting to net-zero emissions, we need to supercharge our investment in the kind of clean energy technology and infrastructure — wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and more —that will power our green economy. Cory’s plan will invest an additional $1.5 trillion by 2030 in clean energy, energy storage, and electric vehicles, spurring a huge market for these products and incentivizing American businesses to compete to create the highest quality and lowest cost options. Federal investment will come in the form of:
- Direct federal purchasing to make federal agencies and facilities net-zero energy users, and to make the entire civilian federal vehicle fleet all-electric, by 2030.
- Grants for local governments to buy electric vehicles or install clean energy technologies, with the backing of the federal government's market power to reduce prices and ensure quality. These grants will prioritize those communities most affected by fossil fuel pollution and environmental injustice; those that suffered the health and economic consequences of our carbon-based energy system need to be the first to benefit from the clean energy revolution.
- A new competitive grant program for state and local governments to invest in regional high-speed rail projects, electrify public transit and school buses, and increase public transportation use and capacity.
- A “matching” program to allow Americans to use their monthly carbon dividend — introduced as part of a new carbon fee and dividend program — to finance the purchase of clean energy technology, energy efficiency upgrades, or an electric vehicle, with the federal government matching part of those funds. The match-rate will increase based on need and will incentivize ownership and wealth-creation for those historically left out of the energy economy.
- Modifying existing tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency to make them refundable and extending the tax credits to 2030, with energy storage projects becoming eligible and enhanced benefits for projects that meet high labor standards. In addition, Cory will seek to make existing tax credits for electric vehicles refundable, extended to 2030 with no manufacturer vehicle caps, doubled to $15,000, and phased out for more expensive vehicles.
- Making cost-share grants to electrify, weatherize, and retrofit existing buildings and create incentives for all new buildings after 2025 to be carbon neutral and rely solely on electric power.
In addition to direct investment in renewable energy, we must rethink how we approach transportation and land use. Cory would start by implementing his housing plan, which will make $16 billion in annual funding contingent on denser and more efficient housing, as well as by requiring localities build and retrofit public housing stock to reduce carbon emissions, and focusing federal investment to build denser and more equitable communities, including by reducing our reliance on cars and undoing past “urban renewal” projects that have devastated Black and Brown communities.
To ensure that investment opportunities and other benefits accrue to historically-impacted and frontline communities, Cory will establish a working group comprised of academic experts, labor unions, and environmental justice leaders.
Cory will also end four years of neglect and abuse under the Trump administration and require his agencies to fulfill their missions and exercise their regulatory authority. He will instruct the EPA to ramp up CAFE standards and require that all new passenger vehicles after 2030 are zero emission, and to immediately end the granting of unwarranted waivers to big oil companies from their blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
At the same time, we must accelerate the end of the use of fossil fuels. Corporations do not own the atmosphere; we all do. And it is our obligation to protect our natural resources and safeguard the health and economic well-being of current and future generations. Cory will immediately end tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; sign an executive order barring all new onshore or offshore fossil fuel leases; phase out fracking; require fossil fuel companies to stop methane leaks from all sources or be subject to significant fines; ban new federal fossil fuel infrastructure; reinstate the ban on crude oil exports; and expand the ban to cover all fossil fuel exports as soon as possible, and no later than 2030.
In addition, under Cory’s plan, fossil fuel producers would immediately begin to pay a carbon fee on fossil fuel sources at the coal mine, natural gas wellhead and oil refinery. The carbon fee would rapidly increase and be complemented by a 100% clean energy standard for electricity generation by 2030, ensuring all electricity is emissions-free and that all communities are free of the health costs and environmental pollution from this sector. Industrial sources of emissions would become subject to the fee in 2030, in order to allow time for technology development. By paying the true societal cost of production — not just for capital and labor but also the impact on communities and our environment — people and businesses will more quickly shift to zero emission sources of energy and less carbon-intensive goods and services.
Under Cory’s plan, substantial revenue raised through the carbon fee will be returned directly to households in the form of a monthly dividend check. The idea of a “people’s dividend” isn’t new; in Alaska, residents receive an annual payment from the state’s oil and mineral leases. This dividend will offset increased energy costs for low and moderate income households.
Meet next-generation technological challenges and stimulate economic growth through domestic innovation and manufacturing
From GPS to LED lighting to the internet, U.S. government-funded research drove many of the revolutionary new technologies of the 20th century. But American leadership didn’t happen by accident — it was the result of focused federal investment in high-impact R&D and early-stage financing. As we phase out fossil fuel production, we can again lead the world in innovation — developing new technologies that will drive the global energy market and create millions of American jobs — for decades to come.
Cory’s plan will make an unprecedented $400 billion investment by 2030 to reassert our global leadership in R&D. The plan will build upon the DOE ARPA-E program, the Department of Energy National Laboratories and Technology Centers, and other existing research and innovation programs and facilities, to fund a Moonshot Hub in all 50 states, each charged with tackling the most important and difficult challenges in basic science, applied research, manufacturing, and commercialization in their dedicated field. Just as Pittsburgh, PA and Mobile, AL have emerged as world leaders in autonomous vehicles and aerospace, respectively, places like Ames, IA and Las Cruces, NM can lead the nation and the world in a swift and equitable transition to a net-zero carbon economy. Hubs will also serve as critical focal points for individuals and communities for workforce training and to access information and resources for bringing clean energy and energy efficiency projects to their own homes and communities.
Of the $400 billion allocated to Hubs, half will be dedicated to certain critical R&D priorities, including:
- $100 billion dedicated to Hubs finding solutions to hard-to-reduce emissions sources — including heavy road and rail transport, shipping, aviation, chemical production, steel and cement production, and industrial heat production — that together account for approximately 30 percent of all U.S. emissions;
- $50 billion focused on research, development and technical assistance to reduce emissions and increase resilience and sequestration in the land sector with a focus on natural infrastructure, soil health, and forest resiliency;
- $30 billion dedicated to energy storage, so that we maximize the remarkable potential of intermittent renewable energy sources and electric vehicles; and
- $20 billion dedicated to research, development and demonstration of next-generation advanced nuclear energy. Dozens of innovative U.S. companies are investing in developing and commercializing next generation technologies with the potential to be more versatile and resilient than our existing fleet while generating less waste. This federal funding will enable the public sector to partner with these private sector innovators and accelerate demonstration projects.
Just as U.S.-led R&D made us first to put a man on the moon, it will help us lead the transition to the global clean energy economy. Moonshot Hubs will rebuild the U.S. auto industry as the global leader in electric light and heavy duty vehicles, develop next-generation solar and wind technologies and the grid and infrastructure to deploy them at scale, make our homes and buildings net energy producers, build the batteries and energy storage systems that best complement renewable energy, create next-generation nuclear technologies, grow a more sustainable food system, cost-effectively expand public transportation access, and much more.
While the Moonshot Hubs will develop and scale cutting-edge research, an expanded green energy financing program will ensure broad-based commercialization and adoption. Clean energy technologies often have high upfront costs but are cost competitive over the project life cycle. The program will help finance innovative new technologies and commercialize clean energy projects in a way that requires domestic manufacturing and incentivizes job creation in marginalized and deindustrialized communities. Importantly, it will also make it easy for all Americans to finance an electric vehicle, solar installation, efficiency upgrade, or whatever makes themselves and their family more energy independent and carbon-free. Financing will come from two primary sources: first, through a massive expansion of the Department of Energy’s federal loan guarantee program, with additional incentives to bring high-paying jobs to frontline communities; and second, by creating an offshoot of the DOE program with an office to provide financing and technical assistance for individuals, small businesses, community organizations, worker-owned cooperatives, and minority-owned businesses.
As we unite in common purpose, ensure that we all share in the rewards
Just last month, new data showed that the US manufacturing sector has declined for the first time since 2009 — the latest proof of President Trump’s misguided policies and broken promises to American workers. But we can turn the tide and set off a manufacturing boom unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. Consider the scale of new demand: 75 million solar panel installations, 50,000 new solar farms, 500,000 on- and off-shore wind turbines, and 150 million electric cars. Just as World War II mobilized millions of Americans in the production of military materials and supplies, our energy transformation can create millions of well-paying union jobs — boosting economic growth in virtually every corner of the country.
But it won’t happen by accident. Cory’s plan puts people and communities at its center. Addressing the climate crisis presents a historic opportunity; done right, we can reduce inequality, improve health and environmental outcomes, level the playing field for communities long left behind, and encourage all Americans — not just the wealthy few — to take part in the building and ownership of the clean energy economy.
Before a single dollar is spent, Cory will seize this opportunity, and put in place ironclad safeguards to ensure that workers and communities share in the benefits of the clean energy economy. Cory’s plan will:
- Require that all new projects include priorities for contracting with local and minority-owned small businesses; build capacity in Minority Serving Institutions like HBCUs; include Buy America standards for all projects; enforce Davis-Bacon to ensure workers are paid prevailing wages; and use project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, local hire, and other provisions to support good-paying, union jobs.
- Grow union density across the country, including in growing clean energy sectors, by signing into law the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, to make it easier to organize, and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, to reverse the misguided Janus decision.
- Encourage distributed ownership of the clean energy economy, ensuring that the profits and benefits of the energy transition are not concentrated in a handful of massive corporations. Grant funding, dividend-matching, and green financing for renewable and storage technologies — combined with smart grid infrastructure and requirements for net-metering or feed-in-tariffs — will enable broad swathes of Americans to save money from selling excess power back to the grid.
- Support and empower workers left worse off in the transition away from fossil fuels, including through evidence-based job training, by protecting the pensions and health care benefits they are owed, ensuring a bridge of wage support, health care, and retirement security until an impacted worker finds new employment or retires, and connecting workers with high-quality union jobs. Cory will fight to pass his Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, the only bill in Congress to test the promise and potential of a federal jobs guarantee — because anyone who wants to work in America should be able to do so.
- Invest in communities impacted by the transition, including remediating any immediate loss of tax base and associated public services, and investing to create new economic development opportunities, diversify local economies, and attract investment to hard-hit areas. This includes providing robust federal grants and local capacity-building through agencies like the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration. And Cory will sign into law his and Rep. Jim Clyburn’s “10-20-30” legislation, which would target federal training and economic development resources to the communities that need them most.
- Invest $300 billion by 2030 in climate resiliency and disaster relief. Low-income communities, indigenous communities and communities of color all across America are disproportionately on the frontlines of the impacts of climate change — more likely to flood, endure extreme heat, and suffer damages from severe storms. We know climate change will continue to increase the frequency and magnitude of these disasters, as Cory saw firsthand in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; our current system of ad-hoc emergency relief is unacceptable. Communities like Paradise, CA, Puerto Rico, and Houston, TX cannot afford to wait for a dysfunctional Congress to deliver funds to rebuild. Cory will call for $30 billion in funding each year to adequately fund disaster relief and pre-disaster mitigation, which will assist communities at risk of or recently impacted by extreme weather events, and ensure that rebuilding — led by local residents — improves their long-term resilience.
Empower our farmers, ranchers, and public lands in the fight against climate change
In FDR’s New Deal, forged in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the federal government planted billions of trees, provided conservation incentives to farmers and ranchers, created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and electrified rural America. Many of those same tools can be used to help meet the existential threat of climate change. Cory will invest $300 billion in natural climate solutions to protect communities and sequester greenhouse gas emissions — keeping these gases out of the atmosphere where they trap heat and cause global warming.
Our farmers and ranchers are on the front lines of climate change. At the same time, they have a unique opportunity to be part of the climate change solution by engaging in practices that reduce emissions and sequester carbon. Cory’s plan would build on his Climate Stewardship Act to:
- Increase funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) each to $7 billion per year, and require that new funding be dedicated solely to practices that scientists have identified as having the most potential greenhouse gas benefits, including planting cover crops, using less nitrogen fertilizer, and practicing prescribed grazing. These investments would not only engage over 100 million new acres in conservation practices, but would also make farms more resilient in the face of future extreme weather, reduce on- and off-farm flooding, and protect the drinking water of millions of Americans from nitrate runoff.
- Increase the number of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) from 24 million acres to 40 million acres, with new enrollment focused on less productive and environmentally important farmland. These acres would be taken out of production for a minimum of 10 years, and would sequester significant amounts of carbon as they are returned to grasslands or replanted with trees.
- Substantially increase funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), so that farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses can make energy efficiency improvements and build out renewable energy projects such as on-farm installation of solar panels or wind turbines.
- Take action against unprecedented consolidation in the agricultural sector by strengthening the Farmer Fair Practice rules, also known as the GIPSA rules, to empower contract farmers, and signing into law his Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act, which would crack down on corporate concentration in agriculture and ensure that family farmers and ranchers can thrive in a sustainable food system and clean energy economy.
- Plant four billion trees by 2030 and 16 billion trees by 2050 on a combination of federal, state, local, tribal and NGO lands guided by the best available science. By the end of the century these trees will sequester over 13 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - an amount equal to more than two full years of total current U.S. emissions. In addition, Cory will create a new program to provide incentives to private forest owners to engage in practices which sequester additional carbon.
- Restore or prevent the loss of over two million acres of coastal wetlands by 2030, which will absorb carbon emissions, provide habitat for thousands of species, and serve as a giant sponge during storms that will protect millions of coastal residents and billions of dollars of coastal property from flooding.
From the increased federal investments in the EQIP, CSP, CRP and REAP programs alone, farmers and ranchers could reduce or offset more than one-third of emissions from the agriculture sector by 2025. What’s more, by investing in the natural climate solutions outlined above we will also create hundreds of thousands of ongoing new jobs, reduce flooding, protect drinking water, and create tens of millions of acres of new habitat for wildlife.
Our public lands are some of the most majestic places on Earth. They make possible our vibrant outdoor recreation economy—preserving generations of traditions around hunting, camping and fishing, and sustaining millions of American jobs. And they are critical assets in the fight against climate change. President Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
As of 2017, our public lands and waters account for 42 percent of our country’s total coal production and nearly one-quarter of our total oil production — all told, more than 20 percent of U.S emissions come from public lands and waters. According to the Wilderness Society, if our public lands were a country, it would be the fifth-highest emitter globally. At the same time, public lands account for just five percent of the country’s renewable power, despite being home to unrivaled solar, wind, and geothermal resources.
Cory’s plan will once again put conservation before corporate interests, and will move us to net zero emissions from public lands and waters by 2030. He will immediately reverse the Trump administration’s assault on our environment, which has led to the largest reduction in federally-protected lands in U.S. history. Beginning on Day One in office, Cory will put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases on public lands, rescind Trump’s executive orders to shrink national monuments, and restore protections for other critical cultural and natural areas including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Boundary Waters, and supercharge deployment of renewable power sources like solar and wind on public lands and waters.
At the same time, we must safeguard our public lands and ensure that every American can enjoy them — today and for decades to come. As mayor of Newark, Cory oversaw the largest park expansion in over a century. Cory also worked with the Trust for Public Land on a ballot initiative to create a City Open Space Trust Fund, which now provides an ongoing source of funding for recreation and conservation projects in Newark.
To build on these successes, Cory’s plan would:
- Put protections in place for 30 percent of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030, and encourage other nations to do the same, providing critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.
- Ensure that every American can enjoy our National Parks, forests, and other public lands by fully funding the maintenance backlog and waiving admission fees for all.
- Provide permanent full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve and protect our parks, forests, and wildlife areas.
- Put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters.
- Reforest millions of acres of federal lands by 2030.
- Rescind Trump’s executive orders to shrink national monuments.
- Supercharge deployment of renewable power sources like solar and wind on public lands guided towards low conflict zones.
Lead the world to a brighter future
The U.S. has never hesitated to lead the world in the advancement of our values and priorities, and we can’t stop now. After four years of alienating our allies and embarrassing inaction on climate, we will lead the world toward ambitious and binding climate targets. Cory recognizes that we all benefit from collective action on climate, and that the U.S comes from a position of strength to force action; Cory will ensure that climate sits at the top of the agenda in meetings with world leaders and is part of any international agreement forged.
When it comes to international action on climate, we must act now. As president, Cory will:
- Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on Day One in office, and bring the international community together around even more ambitious commitments, with binding emissions targets and transparent monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.
- Refocus international aid toward clean technologies, and ensure that developing nations are able to skip over the fossil-fuel-based technologies of the past toward the clean energy promise of the future.
- Dramatically increase U.S. funding commitments to the UN Green Climate Fund, swap foreign military aid for clean energy aid wherever possible, and work to refocus international aid towards clean technologies.
- Prioritize progressive environmental and labor standards in all free trade agreements, updating our strategic trade partnerships towards the reality of the climate crisis. Countries without domestic policies capable of meeting their climate goals will be charged a border adjustment fee on goods based on their carbon intensities.