Category Archives: Environmental Protection

Biden Presents Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future

Wind turbines outside San Francisco, California. Vice President Joe Biden is proposing $2 trillion accelerated investment to “set us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the latest of a series of defined programs under the “Build Back Better” banner, Biden has issued his “Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future” in which he proposes a $2 trillion accelerated investment plan to “set us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.” Biden’s plan was immediately “answered” by Trump issuing new rules to obliterate environmental review, what he terms “right-size” federal environment, to greenlight development while cutting off localities’ ability to stop or mitigate the impacts. Compare and contrast.–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future

At this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy – one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. Joe Biden will seize that opportunity and, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs that provide workers with the choice to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers.
 
President Trump has a devastating pattern of denying science and leaving our country unprepared and vulnerable. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he ignored public health experts, praised the Chinese government, and failed to take the actions needed to protect the American people. And as the crisis accelerated, Trump rolled back environmental standards that protect public health — adding to the 100 similar environmental and public health protections he has rolled back since taking office — even though early data suggests a link between exposure to pollution and serious negative health impacts from the virus.
 
Just as with COVID-19, Donald Trump has denied science and failed to step up in the face of the climate crisis. He has called it a hoax. He has allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate and farmers’ fields to flood. He has held back American workers from leading the world on clean energy, giving China and other countries a free pass to outcompete us in key technologies and the jobs that come with them. And instead of supporting more tax credits that keep solar and wind workers employed here at home, Trump showered tax cuts on multinational companies that encourage offshoring. His actions have not only set us back in terms of progress on environmental justice and clean energy jobs, they have made us more vulnerable – weaker and less resilient – as a nation.
 
Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan ensures that – coming out of this profound public health and economic crisis, and facing the persistent climate crisis – we are never caught flat-footed again. He will launch a national effort aimed at creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.
 
The current coronavirus crisis destroyed millions of American jobs, including hundreds of thousands in clean energy. It has exacerbated historic environmental injustices. And all this comes at a moment when the science tells us there is no time for delay on climate change. Biden will immediately invest in engines of sustainable job creation – new industries and re-invigorated regional economies spurred by innovation from our national labs and universities; commercialized into new and better products that can be manufactured and built by American workers; and put together using feedstocks, materials, and parts supplied by small businesses, family farms, and job creators all across our country. 
 
We need millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities. Their work will improve air quality for our children, increase the comfort of our homes, and make our businesses more competitive. The investments will make sure the communities who have suffered the most from pollution are first to benefit — including low-income rural and urban communities, communities of color, and Native communities. And, Biden’s plan will empower workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers as they rebuild the middle class and a more sustainable future. Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.

Biden will make far-reaching investments in:

  • Infrastructure: Create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, compete in the global economy, withstand the impacts of climate change, and improve public health, including access to clean air and clean water.
  • Auto Industry: Create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations, positioning American auto workers and manufacturers to win the 21st century; and invest in U.S. auto workers to ensure their jobs are good jobs with a choice to join a union.
  • Transit: Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities – ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Power Sector: Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.
  • Buildings: Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union; and also spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.
  • Housing: Spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units.
  • Innovation: Drive dramatic cost reductions in critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear – and rapidly commercialize them, ensuring that those new technologies are made in America.
  • Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines – providing good work with a choice to join or continue membership in a union in hard hit communities, including rural communities, reducing leakage of toxics, and preventing local environmental damage. 
  • Environmental Justice: Ensure that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build – creating good, union, middle-class jobs in communities left behind, righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution, and lifting up the best ideas from across our great nation – rural, urban, and tribal.

Biden will ensure these investments create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the choice to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and collectively bargain with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. His bill will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. He will also ensure that all companies benefitting from his infrastructure and clean energy investments meet the labor protections in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, applying and strictly enforcing Davis-Bacon prevailing wage guidelines, and that those benefiting from transportation investments meet transit labor protections so that new jobs are good-paying jobs with family sustaining benefits. And, as called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, Biden will require that companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs, including a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.

Biden will ensure these jobs are filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers – including women and people of color – by requiring federally funded projects to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements and employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs and in community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities. Biden’s proposal will make sure national infrastructure and clean energy investments create millions of middle-class jobs that develop a diverse and local workforce and strengthen communities as we rebuild our physical infrastructure.
 
Biden also reaffirms his commitment to fulfill our obligation to the workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and decades of economic growth, as outlined in his original climate planThis includes securing the benefits coal miners and their families have earned, making an unprecedented investment in coal and power plant communities, and establishing a Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities.
 
The key elements of the Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future include:

1. Build a Modern Infrastructure
2. Position the U.S. Auto Industry to Win the 21st Century with technology invented in America
3. Achieve a Carbon Pollution-Free Power Sector by 2035
4. Make Dramatic Investments in Energy Efficiency in Buildings, including Completing 4 Million Retrofits and Building 1.5 Million New Affordable Homes
5. Pursue a Historic Investment in Clean Energy Innovation
6. Advance Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation
7. Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economy Opportunity
 

1. BUILD A MODERN INFRASTRUCTURE

Biden will create millions of good, union jobs building and upgrading a cleaner, safer, stronger infrastructure – including smart roads, water systems, municipal transit networks, schools, airports, rail, ferries, ports, and universal broadband access – for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas.
 
Americans deserve infrastructure they can trust: infrastructure that is resilient to floods, fires, and other climate threats, not fragile in the face of these increasing risks. We need infrastructure that supports healthy, safe communities, rather than locking in the cumulative impacts of polluted air and poisonous water. And we need infrastructure, like universal broadband, that unleashes innovation and shared economic progress and educational opportunity to every community, rather than slowing it down.
 
Biden will rely on American union labor and American-made materials and products to build this infrastructure. He will create jobs in planning and management, from architects to engineers to designers. And, he will invest in the pre-development, development, and construction of this new and necessary infrastructure, building it in places and with the advanced materials – like clean steel and cement – in a way that promotes the livability of our communities and the accessibility of opportunity. Biden will create good, union jobs that expand the middle class by:

  • Transforming our crumbling transportation infrastructure – including roads and bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways – making the movement of goods and people faster, cheaper, cleaner, and manufactured in America while preserving and growing the union workforce. Biden will also transform the energy sources that power the transportation sector, making it easier for mobility to be powered by electricity and clean fuels, including commuter trains, school and transit buses, ferries, and passenger vehicles. The resulting reduction in air pollution will save thousands of lives and millions in medical costs burdening families.
  • Sparking the second great railroad revolution. Biden will make sure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world — for both passengers and freight. His rail revolution will reduce pollution, connect workers to good union jobs, slash commute times, and spur investment in communities that will now be better linked to major metropolitan areas. To speed that work, Biden will tap existing federal grant and loan programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and improve and streamline the loan process. In addition, Biden will work with Amtrak and private freight rail companies to further electrify the rail system, reducing diesel fuel emissions.
  • Revolutionizing municipal transit networks. Most Americans do not have access to high-quality and zero-emissions options for affordable, reliable public transportation; and where transit exists, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families rely on cars and trucks, which can be a big financial burden and clog roadways. Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation by 2030. He will allocate flexible federal investments with strong labor protections to help cities and towns install light rail networks and improve existing transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them invest in infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles and integrate technologies like machine-learning optimized traffic lights. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are designed and built with clean and resilient public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build in public transit options from the start.
  • Ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities – rural to urban, rich and poor – investing in the repair of water pipelines and sewer systems, replacement of lead service pipes, upgrade of treatment plants, and integration of efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. This includes protecting our watersheds and clean water infrastructure from man-made and natural disasters by conserving and restoring wetlands and developing green infrastructure and natural solutions.
  • Expanding broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American – recognizing that millions of households without access to broadband are locked out of an economy that is increasingly reliant on virtual collaboration. Communities without access cannot leverage the next generation of “smart” infrastructure. As the COVID-19 crisis has revealed, Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet to do their jobs, participate equally in remote school learning and stay connected. This digital divide needs to be closed everywhere, from lower-income urban schools to rural America, to many older Americans as well as those living on tribal lands. Just like rural electrification several generations ago, universal broadband is long overdue and critical to broadly shared economic success.
  • Cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned and underused Brownfield properties, old power plants and industrial facilities, landfills, abandoned mines, and other idle community assets that will be transformed into new economic hubs for communities all across America.
  • Revitalizing communities in every corner of the country so that no one is left behind or cut off from economic opportunities. Biden’s plan will ensure that our infrastructure investments work to address disparities – often along lines of race and class – in access to clean air, clean water, reliable and sustainable transportation, connectivity to high-speed internet, and access to jobs and educational opportunities. This includes ensuring tribes receive the resources and support they need to invest in roads, clean water, wastewater, broadband, and other essential infrastructure needs. It also means funding investments in local and regional strategies to prevent a lack of transportation options in urban, rural, and high-poverty areas from cutting off after-school opportunities for young people and job opportunities for workers seeking better jobs and more economic security for their families.

2. POSITION THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY TO WIN THE 21ST CENTURY
 
Eleven years ago, Joe Biden helped save the auto industry. Today, the industry once again faces a crisis. Not only has Trump overseen a manufacturing recession on his watch, but through neglect and failed trade policies, he has allowed China to race ahead in the competition to lead the auto industry of the future. China is on track to command more than four times the global market share compared to the U.S. in electric vehicle production, even as the Chinese government’s approach threatens to slow down or set back the long-term prospects of clean vehicle innovation.
 
As called for in his Plan to Ensure the Future is Made in All of America by America’s Workers, Biden will use all the levers of the federal government, from purchasing power, R&D, tax, trade, and investment policies to reverse this trend and position America to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials and parts. Biden will vigorously enforce trade rules in response to currency manipulation, overcapacity, and Chinese government abuses in this sector. Here at home, he will spur an expansion of factory floors and a re-tool of existing manufacturing capacity, and create 1 million new jobs in auto manufacturing, auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure. And he’ll ensure those workers have good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union. Between 1979 and 2018, American workers have increased their productivity by 70%, while their real wages have only grown by 12% — in large part due to the decline in union density. Biden will reverse this trend, by ensuring that auto workers have jobs with strong labor standards and working to pass the PRO Act to ensure auto workers can more easily choose to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers. Leveraging the remarkable talents of U.S. auto workers, he will position the auto industry to win the 21st century.

  • Use the power of federal procurement to increase demand for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles. As part of his historic commitment to increasing procurement investments, Biden will make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets, making sure that we retain the critical union jobs involved in running and maintaining these fleets. By providing an immediate, clear, and stable source of demand, this procurement commitment will help to dramatically accelerate American industrial capacity to produce clean vehicles and components, while accelerating the upgrade of the 3 million vehicles in these fleets. 
  • Encourage consumers and manufacturers to go clean. Senators Schumer, Stabenow, Brown, and Merkley, alongside organizations like the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and leading environmental groups, crafted  a Clean Cars For America proposal. Biden will build on their leadership by providing consumers rebates to swap old, less-efficient vehicles for these newer American vehicles built from materials and parts sourced in the United States. These rebates will be accompanied by significant new targeted incentives for manufacturers to build or retool factories to assemble zero-emission vehicles, parts, and associated infrastructure here at home. 
  • Make major public investments in automobile infrastructure — including in 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations — to create good jobs in industries supporting vehicle electrification. These investments are a key part of Biden’s commitment to reinvent the American transportation system from the factory line to the electric vehicle charging station, while promoting strong labor, training, and installation standards. This includes ensuring the workforce is trained in high quality training programs like the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).
  • Accelerate research on battery technology and support the development of domestic production capabilities. The Chinese government, along with other countries, has used state subsidies and industrial strategies to advance its interests. America must accelerate its own R&D with a focus on developing the domestic supply chain for electric vehicles. A specific focus of Biden’s historic R&D and procurement commitments will be on battery technology – for use in electric vehicles and on our grid, as a complement to technologies like solar and wind – increasing durability, reducing waste, and lowering costs, all while advancing new chemistries and approaches. And Biden will ensure that these batteries are built in the United States by American workers in good, union jobs. 
  • Set a goal that all new American-built buses be zero-emissions by 2030, which will create significant demand for the manufacturing of new, clean American-built buses utilizing American-manufactured inputs – and accelerate the progress by converting all 500,000 school buses in our country — including diesel — to zero emissions. Biden will ensure that the existing — and future — workforce is trained and able to operate and maintain this 21st century infrastructure.
  • Establish ambitious fuel economy standards that save consumers money and cut air pollutionBiden will negotiate fuel economy standards with workers and their unions, environmentalists, industry, and states that achieve new ambition by integrating the most recent advances in technology. This will accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions light- and medium duty vehicles, provide long-term certainty for workers and the industry and save consumers money through avoided fuel costs. Paired with historic public investments and direct consumer rebates for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles, these ambitious standards will position America to achieve a net-zero emissions future, and position American auto workers, manufacturers, and consumers to benefit from a clean energy revolution in transport.

3. CREATE MILLIONS OF JOBS PRODUCING CLEAN ELECTRIC POWER FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
 
Transforming the U.S. electricity sector – and electrifying an increasing share of the economy – represents the biggest job creation and economic opportunity engine of the 21st century. These jobs include every kind of worker from scientists to construction workers to electricity generation workers to welders to engineers. Existing iron casting and steel fabrication plants will have new customers in the solar and wind industries. Workers with experience welding and installing complex wiring will have new job opportunities. Properties idled in communities left behind, like brownfields, will once again become critical hubs for the growth of our economy. If we move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity, while building the infrastructure to electrify major sectors of our economy, we will meet the existential threat of climate change, create millions of good union jobs; make economic growth more accessible in every state and across Indian Country, and lead the world in inventing, manufacturing, and exporting clean energy technologies. Biden will:

  • Marshal an historic investment in energy efficiency, clean energy, electrical systems and line infrastructure that makes it easier to electrify transportation, and new battery storage and transmission infrastructure that will address bottlenecks and unlock America’s full clean energy potential – built by American workers, using American-made materials. This revolution in the way we power our economy will leverage the breakthroughs we have already seen in distributed and large-scale renewables, onshore and offshore. And it will put welders, electricians, and other skilled labor to work in good union jobs installing the electrical systems and line infrastructure that helps the power sector – the electricity we generate at our power plants, on our roofs, and in our communities – reach a bigger market of customers and, at the same time, makes it easier for us to electrify in buildings, certain industrial processes, and transportation.
  • Reform and extend the tax incentives we know generate energy efficiency and clean energy jobs; develop innovative financing mechanisms that leverage private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution; and establish a technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) for utilities and grid operators. Paired with his historic, front-loaded investments in the power sector, Biden’s EECES will cut electricity bills and cut electricity pollution, increase competition in the market and incentivize higher utilization of assets – and achieve carbon-pollution free energy in electricity generation by 2035. Biden will scale up best practices from state-level clean energy standards, which are being implemented in a way that provides renewable credits to developers that follow high labor standards, including through Project Labor and Community Labor Agreements and paying prevailing wages. Together, these steps will unleash a clean energy revolution in America, create good paying union jobs that cannot be outsourced, and spur the installation of millions of solar panels – including utility-scale, rooftop, and community solar systems – and tens of thousands of wind turbines – including thousands of turbines off our coasts – in Biden’s first term. It would also mean continuing to leverage the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
  • Leverage existing infrastructure and assets. To build the next generation of electric grid transmission and distribution, Biden will prioritize re-powering of lines that already exist with new technology. He will take advantage of existing rights-of-way – along roads and railways – and cut red-tape to promote faster and easier permitting. And he will leverage the breakthroughs we have secured in energy storage over the last decade with historic procurement and investments to bring the future within reach for big utilities and rural cooperatives alike. In addition, and in line with recommendations by climate experts, including a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Biden will double down on federal investments and tax incentives for technology that captures carbon and then permanently sequesters or utilizes that captured carbon, which includes lowering the cost of carbon capture retrofits for existing power plants — all while ensuring that overburdened communities are protected from increases in cumulative pollution. He’ll also ensure that the market can access green hydrogen at the same cost as conventional hydrogen within a decade – providing a new, clean fuel source for some existing power plants. 

4. UPGRADE THE BUILDING SECTOR: RETROFITTING BUILDINGS, UPGRADING SCHOOLS, AND BUILDING HOMES ACROSS AMERICA

  • Creating 1 million jobs upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over 4 years. Biden will make an historic investment in energy upgrades of homes, offices, warehouses, and public buildings. This will be a win on multiple levels. It will create at least 1 million construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs, make the places we live, work, and learn healthier, and reduce electricity bills for families, businesses, and local governments. It will improve indoor air quality and indoor environmental health, thus making our buildings safer in the face of future pandemics. At this moment of crisis, when many offices and municipal buildings are shuttered and millions of skilled Americans are out of work, we have a unique, once in a generation opportunity to deliver cost-efficient retrofits in communities across the country.
    • Biden’s plan to upgrade 4 million commercial buildings will return almost a quarter of the savings from those retrofits to cash-strapped state and local governments. This includes mobilizing a trained and skilled American workforce to manufacture, install, service and maintain high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems that run cleaner and less costly – all manufactured in the United States.
    • For families, Biden’s plan will include direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances, install more efficient windows, and cut residential energy bills. Biden will also significantly expand weatherization efforts, reaching over 2 million homes within 4 years, including slashing the disproportionately high energy burden for low-income rural households and rural communities of color.
    • Biden will also repair the building code process with the goal of establishing building performance standards for existing buildings nationwide and support this effort with new funding mechanisms for states, cities, and tribes to adopt strict building codes and labor standards to ensure quality and predictability.
    • Paired with legislation to set a new net-zero emissions standard for all new commercial buildings by 2030, these steps and critical investments in the Build Back Better Plan will accelerate progress to Joe Biden’s target of cutting the carbon footprint of our national building stock in half by 2035.
  • Launching a major, multi-year national effort to modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. For most American children, their public school is like a second home. It should be a place that makes them feel safe and healthy. Yet, American public school facilities received a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In fact, each year the U.S. underfunds school infrastructure by $46 billion, leaving school districts responsible for the majority of construction costs and pushing long-term debt into the billions nationwide. And by not investing in the infrastructure of our public schools, too many schools are outdated, unsafe, unfit, and – in some cases – making kids and educators sick. Biden’s Build Back Better commitment includes a national effort to upgrade America’s schools and early learning facilities. In line with the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, backed by the House Education and Labor Committee, Biden will make an historic investment to improve public school buildings, with resources weighted to those lower-income rural and urban schools — all too often in communities of color — where the poor quality of school buildings is an additional barrier to equal educational opportunity. Those funds will be deployed with a set of priorities in mind: healthy kids, climate resilience, and creating greater educational equity and job creation in underserved communities. First and foremost, those funds will be used to address health risks, such as improving indoor air quality and ventilation and ensuring access to clean water, so that going to school or working at one never makes anyone sick. Second, additional funding will be used to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative, climate resilient campuses, which not only have the schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future, but also become themselves the places that provide communities with green space, clean air, and places to gather, especially during emergencies. He’ll also upgrade child care and early learning facilities around the country that are not safe or developmentally appropriate for young children, who are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants like lead and mold, and to safety hazards like electrical outlets. Biden’s investments will catalyze thousands of good, union jobs, drawing those workers from the communities most in need of economic development. These investments mean work for local businesses and support for local school districts to reduce capital costs, allowing them to spend more on teaching, learning, and other essential needs to support educators and ensure students are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
  • Spurring the construction of 1.5 million homes and public housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the racial wealth gap. Biden is building on his housing plan by further increasing the level of federal investment in new affordable, accessible housing construction — including homes for low-income Americans, minority communities, veterans, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. He will ensure these homes are energy efficient from the start – saving the families who live there up to $500 per year. Biden will also drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of affordable housing and small business creation. And, he’ll incentivize smart regional planning that connects housing, transit, and jobs, improving quality of life by cutting commute times, reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. 

5. PURSUE A HISTORIC INVESTMENT IN CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION
 
A major focus of Biden’s commitment to increase federal procurement by $400 billion in his first term will be purchasing the key clean energy inputs like batteries and electric vehicles that will help position the U.S. as the world’s clean energy leader. And, as part of Biden’s historic commitment to accelerate R&D investment on a scale well beyond the Apollo-program, he will focus on strategic research areas like clean energy, clean transportation, clean industrial processes, and clean materials over the next four years. This funding will drive large-scale innovation in the industries of the future and create new partnerships to empower a generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, and skilled trade workers in all parts of the United States. Biden will invest these new dollars in a way that ensures sustained and sustainable job and small business growth in all parts of America – facilitating the formation of regional ecosystems of innovation, investing in the future of manufacturing communities, playing to each region’s strengths, and pulling in people from diverse backgrounds and skills. These investments will not only help us recover from the economic consequences of the Trump Administration’s dangerous decisions, they will help America build back better – an economy that is less vulnerable to shocks and better able to bounce back from future threats. As part of this effort, Biden will:

  • Create a new Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate, a new, cross-agency ARPA-C to target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target, including:
    • grid-scale storage at one-tenth the cost of lithium-ion batteries;
    • advanced nuclear reactors, that are smaller, safer, and more efficient at half the construction cost of today’s reactors;
    • refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants with no global warming potential;
    • zero net energy buildings at zero net cost, including through breakthroughs in smart materials, appliances, and systems management;
    • using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen from shale gas through innovation in technologies like next generation electrolyzers;
    • decarbonizing industrial heat needed to make steel, concrete, and chemicals and reimagining carbon-neutral construction materials;
    • decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging research in soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground; and
    • capturing carbon dioxide through direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts, followed by permanently sequestering it deep underground or using it to make alternative products like cement.
  • Accelerate innovation in supply-chain resilience by investing in research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States, addressing issues like reliance on rare earth minerals.
  • Invest in our national laboratories, high-performance computing capabilities, and the design and construction of other critical infrastructure at and around those national laboratories and the regional innovation ecosystems and economies that they support.
  • Strengthen land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other minority serving institutions (MSIs), expanding facilities, targeting grants, and supporting the training of talent.

6. INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION

  • Mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps. Biden will put a new, diverse generation of patriotic Americans to work conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate, while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans, including women and people of color. This initiative will be complemented by a new generation of scientists and land managers committed to ecological integrity and natural climate solutions. These workers will use sound, science-based techniques to thin and sustainably manage our forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and enhancing their carbon intake and habitat integrity; restore wetlands to protect clean water supplies and leverage greater flood protection; repair dilapidated irrigation systems to conserve water; plant millions of trees to help reduce heat stress in urban neighborhoods; protect and restore coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, seagrasses, oyster reefs, and mangrove and kelp forests, to protect vulnerable coastlines, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity and fisheries; enhance the carbon intake of natural and working lands, wetlands, reefs, and underwater mangrove and kelp forests; remove invasive species; improve wildlife corridors; build hiking and biking trails and access to other recreational amenities; and reinvigorate landscapes and seascapes, unlocking economic and climate resilience in places like the Great Lakes, the Everglades, our nation’s great river systems including the Colorado River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Creating more than a quarter million jobs immediately to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction. Biden will direct a front-loaded investment to immediately address the backlog of remediation, reclamation, and restoration needs left behind by the CEOs whose corporations failed to meet their responsibilities to the communities where they operated. Across the country, there are several million unplugged, orphaned, and abandoned oil and gas wells that pose ongoing climate, health, and safety risks in communities. The oil, methane and brine that leaks from these wells contaminates the air and water, and the problem is only getting worse. In addition to these wells, tens of thousands of former mining sites for extraction of coal, hardrock minerals, and uranium are causing ongoing environmental damage including to local surface and groundwater supplies. By making an immediate up-front investment, Biden will create more than 250,000 good jobs with a choice to join a union to plug these oil and gas wells and to restore and reclaim these abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. This program will create jobs for skilled technicians and operators in some of the hardest hit communities in the country, while reducing leakage of toxic chemicals, methane, and other wastes and preventing local environmental damage. Biden will also hold companies accountable for the environmental damage of their operations, including by clawing back golden parachutes and executive bonuses for companies that shift the environmental burdens of their actions onto taxpayers.
  • Standing up for our farms and ranches. Our family farmers and ranchers were already fighting an uphill battle because of Trump’s irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers, but COVID-19 has placed new pressures on that sector and the rural economies it sustains. Biden will bring back America’s advantage in agriculture, create jobs, and build a bright future for rural communities by investing in the next generation of agriculture and conservation; providing opportunities to new farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans and minorities, to enter the economy; and making it easier to pass farms and ranches onto the next generation, and:
    • Helping farmers leverage new technologies, techniques, and equipment to increase productivity and profit – including by providing low-cost finance for the transition to new equipment and methods, funding research and development in precision agriculture and new crops, and a establishing a new voluntary carbon farming market that rewards farmers for the carbon they sequester on their land and the greenhouse gas emission reductions, including from methane, that they secure. These efforts to partner with farmers will help them tap into develop new income streams as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation. Instead of making things harder for farmers, Biden will stand with them as they fight against the threats of climate change, droughts, flooding and extreme weather, while partnering with them to make American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
    • Pursuing smarter pro-worker and pro-family-farmer trade policies – knowing the difference between strong and effective trade enforcement and the self-defeating strategy Donald Trump has pursued. Biden will help farmers compete instead of crushing them.
    • Bolstering the security and resilience of our food supply, including by leveraging precision agriculture through regional demonstration projects to minimize the impacts of drought.
    • Making sure small and medium-sized farms and producers have access to fair markets where they can compete and get fair prices for their products – and requiring large corporations play by the rules instead of writing them – by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
    • Investing in diverse farmers to make our agriculture sector stronger and more resilient. American agriculture is strong in part because of our incredible range of farm types and sizes — and we’ve got to make sure that anyone who wants to serve our country as a farmer can get assistance from USDA. As President, Biden will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture ends historical discrimination against Black farmers in federal farm programs and that all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have access to programs that support their family farms.
    • Expanding protections for farm workers. Farm workers have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.
    • Building on Biden’s rural plan, which includes proposals to re-invest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances. 

7. SECURE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND CREATE EQUITABLE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
 
Throughout every aspect of Biden’s plan to rebuild a resilient infrastructure and sustainable, clean energy economy, he will prioritize addressing historic, environmental injustice. Biden has a comprehensive environmental justice plan, which includes:

  • Setting a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure. In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution — especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and tribal communities — and addressing common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, child care centers, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying jobs in frontline and fenceline communities. 
  • Creating a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities, from urban to rural to tribal communities – including those threatened by the cumulative stresses of climate change, economic distress, racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. With the power of data – combined with enhanced monitoring of climate emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics – Biden will enable agencies and the private sector to make investments in the rural, suburban, and urban communities that need them most. In addition, Biden will instruct his Cabinet to prioritize climate change strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.

Ensure that the Biden Administration prioritizes environmental justice issues and holds polluters accountable. Biden will overhaul and update existing programs at the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency in order to comprehensively address the most pressing, intersectional environmental justice issues and hold polluters accountable. For example, Biden will ensure that frontline and fenceline communities are at the table when enforcement, remediation, and investment decisions affecting those communities are made. Biden will ensure working groups on these issues report directly into the White House, so that communities facing the dual threat of environmental and economic burdens have access to the highest levels of the Biden Administration. And, Biden will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Justice Department, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and hold polluters accountable.

Trump Overturns Environmental Protections to Speed Development

Climate March protesters try to send Trump a message in White House, April, 2017 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the Orwellian name of “modernizing” and throwing around terms like “right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review,” the Trump Administration is overturning and repealing regulations aimed at protecting the environment and mitigating or reversing climate change. At the same time, he is reducing local communities ability to stop or reduce the environmental impacts of development. “By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom,” Trump stated. On the other hand, he has obstructed approvals of vital infrastructure projects in New York and New Jersey, including the Gateway Tunnels under the Hudson River, and a rail-link from the new and improved LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan.

It is a stunning contrast to Biden’s ”Build Back Better”  Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future

This is a fact sheet from the White House –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

MODERNIZING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS: For the first time in 40 years, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process.

The Trump Administration is issuing a final rule that will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), so that infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner.

This marks the end of a multi-year review, which produced more than 1.1 million public comments and involved a broad range of stakeholders.

The final rule modernizes Federal NEPA regulations, including by codifying certain court decisions to clarify NEPA’s application and by expanding public involvement in NEPA reviews through the use of modern technology.

The rule also improves management by incorporating President Trump’s One Federal Decision policy, establishing time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.

Together, these common sense reforms will slash unnecessary government bureaucracy and accelerate important infrastructure projects all across the Nation.

STREAMLINING INFRASTRUCTURE APPROVALS: The Federal environmental review process has historically been far too complex, costly, and time consuming.

Since NEPA’s enactment, the environmental review process has been burdensome for both Federal agencies conducting reviews and Americans seeking permits or approvals.

Environmental impact statements average over 650 pages, and it takes Federal agencies on average four and a half years to conduct required reviews.

According to the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental impact statements for highway projects take more than seven years on average and often take a decade or more.

NEPA reviews are also frequently challenged in court, making it very challenging for businesses and communities to plan, finance, and build projects in the United States.

CUTTING RED TAPE: President Trump is reversing years of burdensome overregulation and administrative abuse, simultaneously ensuring meaningful environmental reviews and spurring economic growth.

President Trump is making good on his promise to conduct historic deregulation, removing job killing regulations that have stifled economic growth for far too long.

Already the President has reversed burdensome regulations like the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

President Trump also did away with the Obama Administration’s expensive, heavy handed, and job-killing Clean Power Plan, replacing it with the much improved Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.

The President launched his Governors’ Initiative on Regulatory Innovation to cut outdated regulations, put people over paperwork, and align Federal and State regulations.

Under President Trump, the United States has remained a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while becoming the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

Biden Presents Clean Energy Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity

A solar array on a farm in the Finger Lakes, New York State. Vice President Biden is proposing a bold plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure based on clean energy that in addition to addressing climate change, will create millions of well-paying jobs. “When Trump speaks of climate change, he thinks of one word, ‘hoax.’ When I think of climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’ © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the midst of economic, unemployment, and climate crises, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president,  rolled out the second plank of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families: building a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. In a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s disregard for working Americans and the consequential climate emergency at hand, Vice President Biden’s plan will create millions of good paying, union jobs for Americans while building sustainable infrastructure and creating an equitable clean energy future. 

Here’s what leaders from across the country are saying about Vice President Biden’s plans: 

“The plan put forward today by former Vice President Biden will create and sustain the kinds of good-paying, union jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and make America a leader in manufacturing clean technology, put our nation on a path to doing our part to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, and lift up all workers and communities by prioritizing investments in communities of color that have borne the brunt of environmental injustice,” Jason Walsh, the Executive Director BlueGreen Alliance, said in a statement

“As president of the IBEW, the largest union of electrical workers in the nation, I’m pleased that it will create so many jobs in nearly every sector of the workforce we represent, including construction, utility, telecommunications, manufacturing, and railroad. Joe Biden has made it clear that any new federal investments must support American jobs and American made products,” Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), said in a statement. “These are vital jobs that our nation needs more than ever… The men and women of the IBEW have been part of American’s clean-energy revolution for years now. We look forward to working with a Biden administration in building a clean and sustainable economy that can both save our planet and help rebuild the American middle class.”

“This ambitious plan is a win-win for American manufacturing, auto industry jobs, new technology and a cleaner environment. By focusing on investments in new technology, increasing demand for American-made and sourced clean vehicles; investing in our plants and our auto manufacturing facilities and creating 1 million new jobs, this all-American plan will ensure that the industry will thrive for decades to come with good paying union jobs,” the United Auto Workers (UAW) said in a statement. “This comprehensive plan will also increase investment in batteries and charging infrastructure and set fuel economy standards that involve all stakeholders. And this plan will save consumers money and cut air pollution. UAW members are looking to Washington, D.C. to invest in future jobs; new technologies; a world race to cleaner air; and to save consumers their hard-earned money. This plan checks all those boxes.”

“Joe Biden’s climate plan—by a long shot—is the most ambitious we have ever seen from any president in our nation’s history,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, said in a statement. “It will get our economy humming again, and give our children a healthier, more just and more hopeful future. And he has committed to getting started on day one.”

“Vice President Joe Biden’s ambitious new commitments to a clean energy economy, environmental justice, and equitable climate solutions are more important than ever as our nation grapples with the realities of systemic racism, a global pandemic, and the ever growing climate crisis. Biden’s strong climate leadership stands in stark contrast with the Trump administration, which is continuing this week with its full scale assault on environmental and public health protections,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of LCV Action Fund, wrote in a statement. “We applaud Vice President Biden for again making clear with these plans that combatting the climate crisis, fighting for environmental justice and creating millions of good-paying, high-quality jobs in a clean energy economy will be a very top priority on day one as president and every single day.”

“Vice President Biden is right ‘that environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color,’ and his emphasis on addressing those injustices is a critical part of this plan. For too long Black, Latino, as well as low-income neighborhoods have suffered far more than their fair share of pollution and other environmental impacts, with devastating results on the health of the people living there,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs, EDF Action Fund in a statement. “The Biden Plan couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to four years of failure by the Trump administration. They have weakened limits on climate pollution, undermined scientists, and surrendered international leadership. America can’t afford another four years of a president who claims climate change is a hoax instead of providing leadership. We look forward to working with the Congress and a new administration to finally take real action on climate change.”

“While Donald Trump spreads lies about windmills, tries to block legislative efforts to advance electric vehicles, and ignores the millions of Americans working in clean energy, Joe Biden is presenting a vision to invest in and grow an equitable clean energy economy,” Sierra Club Political Director Ariel Hayes said in a statement. “The Sierra Club is encouraged by Biden’s proposal, which shows he is listening to the continued calls from activists and organizations across the country demanding a bold and ambitious plan that meets the size and scale of the crisis and completes the transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Today I heard from many in the environmental justice movement across the country who were overwhelmed by the Historic Ambitious speech addressing environmental, climate, social, and economic injustice by the Vice President,” said former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell and Founder of The ReGenesis Project. “We thank you for listening, and announcing one of the boldest climate and environmental justice plans ever presented by a nominee for President.”

“Joe Biden shares DSCEJ’s commitment to build the power of Black communities, harmed by toxic pollution and vulnerable to the climate crisis, to shape the national agenda for achieving environmental justice and climate justice,” said Beverly L. Wright, Ph.D., Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

“The Biden Environmental Justice Plan is the most targeted and comprehensive plan to address the legacy of environmental racism and the continuing ambivalence regarding environmental quality in communities of color that has been proposed by a potential presidential nominee,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice based in Harlem, New York,” said Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “When I was chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the EPA I witnessed the total disregard of Title 6 administrative complaints by the EPA’s Civil Rights division, and the lack of accountability or reporting on environmental justice progress by the EJ Interagency Council which was mandated to develop plans to address environmental degradation in EJ communities. The Biden plans’ initiative to mandate a report card on progress to the White House is another important proposal to establish accountability which has been absent.”

“It’s encouraging to see former Vice President Biden release an environment, climate , economic and energy plan that places justice and health at the center,” said Dr. Robert. D. Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University, widely regarded as the father of the environmental justice movement. “Given the converging and multiple threats faced by low-income, people of color, and vulnerable communities today, I like the fact the plan calls for an inclusive and All-of-Government approach in setting policy and legislative priorities and a framework for targeting resources to address underlying systemic conditions that create and perpetuate racial and economic inequality and unequal protection.”

“This is a truly historic moment in Presidential candidate history. Environmental Justice elders are being heard and together we can, and we will forge a new pathway for this country to live up to its ideals of justice for all!” said Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy; Inaugural Signer of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform; and Co-Chair, Biden for President Climate Engagement Advisory Council.

“We strongly applaud the Biden campaign for taking an ambitious, comprehensive approach to climate change policy that recognizes the renewable energy industry’s ability to grow America’s economy towards a cleaner environment and a more prosperous and equitable future,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in a statement. “As our country strives to recover from the global pandemic, racial injustices, and economic recession, this is the right moment to grow the investments and good-paying American jobs associated with renewable energy development, including the significant economic benefits, lower cost electricity bills, and diverse community support that wind energy brings to rural parts of the country.”

“I think this plan out of Joe Biden is really visionary. It’s about investing in the technologies of the future and it certainly does deploy a lot of the work that the big three are already doing here in Detroit — and expands upon that and builds that out even further,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Autonomous vehicles, vehicles of the future, electric vehicles — these are the industries we’ve got to make investments in, that we’ve got to grow, and that will make our environment cleaner and be a much longer-term type of investment for the people of this country. I was excited to hear Joe Biden’s plan today.”

”This is exactly the bold vision for the future that we need in our country,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. “What I love about what Joe Biden is proposing is that it’s about making it here, it’s about using it here, it’s about tackling the climate crisis in a way that creates new, clean energy jobs and does it in a way that provides opportunity for everyone and addresses parts of our communities that have been hardest hit by that pollution and the inequalities involved. “

“I’ve spent my time in public service fighting for environmental justice and for workers‘ rights so people who work hard can forge a better life for themselves. I know these two issues go hand in hand. So does my friend, Joe Biden. His clean energy jobs plan, with a strong environmental justice focus, proves it,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

“VP Biden has chosen a bold path to get America to energy and environmental security and confront the existential challenge of climate change with bold and realistic solutions,” said former Senator and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Here is the plan:

The Biden Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future

The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color – allowing systemic shocks, persistent stressors, and pandemics to disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
 
Joe Biden is running for President to ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at getting ahead. That means rooting out the systemic racism in our laws, policies, institutions, and hearts. Any sound energy and environmental policy must advance public health and economic opportunity for all Americans, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and recognize that communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades. It must also hold corporate polluters responsible for rampant pollution that creates the types of underlying conditions that are contributing to the disproportionate rates of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 among Black, Latino, and Native Americans. That means officials setting policy must be accountable to the people and communities they serve, not to polluters and corporations.
 
Addressing environmental and climate justice is a core tenet of Biden’s climate plan. Biden will:

Use an inclusive and empowering All-of-Government approach;

Make decisions that are driven by data and science;

Target resources in a way that is consistent with prioritization of environmental and climate justice; and

Assess and address risks to communities from the next public health emergency.


USE AN INCLUSIVE AND EMPOWERING, ALL-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH

Our nation’s environmental justice policy was developed more than twenty years ago and no longer addresses the needs of the present or future. In order to clean up our communities and provide new opportunities to those that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and economic and racial inequality, Biden will revise and reinvigorate the 1994 Executive Order 12898 (EO 12898) on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Specifically, Biden will:

Establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department (DOJ) in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences, perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Biden will direct his EPA and DOJ to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. Going beyond the ambitious proposals that the Biden plan for a clean energy revolution already includes, the Biden Administration will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the DOJ, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In line with the new Division’s mandate, Biden will instruct the Attorney General to: (i) implement, to the extent possible by executive action, Senator Booker’s Environmental Justice Act of 2019; (ii) increase enforcement, in line with the commitments already detailed in the Biden Plan; (iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters; (iv) address legacy pollution that includes real remedies to make communities safe, healthy, and whole; and (v) work hand-in-hand with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights.

Elevate environmental justice in the federal government and modernize the all-of-government approach. Currently, the federal government has two key environmental justice groups. Biden will elevate and reestablish the groups as the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, both reporting directly to the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), who reports directly to the President. To support this work, Biden’s CEQ will also have senior and dedicated environmental justice staff. These two councils will be charged with revising EO 12898 in order to address current and historic environmental injustice, in collaboration with local environmental justice leaders. And, they will be tasked with  developing clear performance metrics to ensure accountability in the implementation of the Executive Order. Once the revised EO is finalized, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council will publish an annual public performance score-card on its implementation.

Overhaul the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office. For too long, the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office has ignored its requirements under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That will end in the Biden Administration. Biden will overhaul that office and ensure that it brings justice to frontline communities that experience the worst impacts of climate change and fenceline communities that are located adjacent to pollution sources, beginning with the following actions: (i) revisit and rescind EPA’s decision in Select Steel and its Angelita C. settlement, which allowed state environmental agencies to issue dangerous permits, and to conduct its business in a way that harmed communities; (ii) conduct a rulemaking and open a public comment process to seek Americans’ input on agency guidance for investigating Title VI Administrative complaints; and (iii) work with Congress to empower communities to bring these cases themselves, by reinstituting a private right of action to sue Title VI, which was written out in the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval.


MAKE DECISIONS DRIVEN BY DATA AND SCIENCE
 
President Trump denies science and disempowers experts in the federal government. Biden will choose science over fiction, ensuring we make data-driven decisions when it comes to environmental justice.
 
Building on EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, developed in the Obama-Biden Administration, and lessons learned at the state level, Biden will charge the newly elevated White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, in close consultation with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, to create a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify communities threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. To ensure that information is accessible and transparent, the Screening Tool will be used to publish annual maps in multiple languages that identify disadvantaged communities; including disproportionately burdened tribal areas. In addition, since too often low-income and communities of color lack air quality monitors and are, as a result, unaware of unsafe pollution levels that threaten their health, Biden will:

Mandate new monitoring in frontline and fenceline communities. Biden will ensure that the federal government recommends that each state adequately monitors environmental pollution, including emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics, in frontline and fenceline communities. This will include installing new monitors where they are lacking to provide accurate and publically-available real-time data. Biden will also create a new environmental public health corps that boosts communities’ capacity to use this data meaningfully. 

Require community notification. In line with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats (ALERT) Act, Biden will direct the EPA to create a community notification program requiring “industries producing hazardous and toxic chemicals to engage directly with the community where they are located to ensure residents have real-time knowledge of any toxic release and ensure that communities are engaged in the subsequent remediation plan.”

Establish interagency teams to address targeted issues and partner directly with communities. Biden will also establish an Interagency Climate Equity Task Force to directly work to resolve the most challenging and persistent existing pockets of climate inequity in frontline vulnerable communities and tribal nations. This work includes addressing the challenge of lack of access to credit and capital for many local governments and small businesses owned by and located in environmental justice communities. Biden will rely on the leadership of these communities to identify what they need most. The Biden Administration will let community leaders lead by investing in community self-determination, marshalling federal resources to support local leaders and organizations, and directly funding capacity building — from critical tools to talent — to arm the creativity of local leaders and help them build back better.

Biden will also:

Tackle water pollution in a science-based manner. Biden will focus on improving water quality in a comprehensive way. For example, it is estimated that up to 110 million American’s drinking water could be contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a suite of chemicals that cause a host of health issues, including cancer, and are found in states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Colorado and New Hampshire. Instead of making empty promises with no follow-through, Biden will tackle PFAS pollution by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS. In addition, Biden will accelerate the process to test for and address the presence of lead in drinking water and housing, in line with the CDC’s determination and in partnership with labor, and state, local, and tribal governments. Biden will also help protect rural communities from water and air pollution and make water bills affordable for low-income communities, rural Americans, and tribes through targeted state revolving funds and Rural Utility Service funding for disadvantaged communities.

Prioritize strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in disadvantaged communities. Biden will direct his Cabinet to prioritize the climate strategies and technologies that most improve public health. He will also direct his Office of Science and Technology Policy to publish a report within 100 days identifying the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements and update analytical tools to ensure that they accurately account for health risk and benefits. Finally, Biden will recommend that every state prioritize emission reductions within the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool in their state-level air quality plans.


TARGET RESOURCES CONSISTENT WITH THE PRIORITY THAT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE REPRESENTS
 
The Biden plan already commits to providing low-income and communities of color preference in competitive grant programs. Today, Biden commits to go even further and target 40% of his historic investment in a clean energy revolution to disadvantaged communities. Building on the ambitious New York State climate law, Biden will:

Target relevant investments with the goal of delivering 40% of the overall benefits from those investments to disadvantaged communities, specifically:

Targeting investments made through programs related to clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable  housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure; and

Utilizing the results of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to help identify these disadvantaged communities, which are threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.

In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution – especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and indigenous communities. Biden will also address common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, daycares, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying union jobs and help to build infrastructure that is resilient to the impacts of climate change in frontline and fenceline communities.


ASSESS AND ADDRESS RISKS TO COMMUNITIES FROM THE NEXT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

As a country, we must do a better job to prepare for and prevent public health emergencies, particularly in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental stressors. The link between climate change and health security is well-documented – climate change creates a growing threat to Americans and hits low-income and communities of color the hardest. We must heed the warning signs from the current pandemic and prepare all communities. Building on The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare For Future Global Health Threats, Biden will take the following actions to minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided:

Create a National Crisis Strategy to address climate disasters that prioritizes equitable disaster risk reduction and response. The Trump Administration’s lack of preparedness and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that the next President must develop a science-based, national climate crisis strategy to support states, tribes, and territories. The next President must ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of disaster risk reduction-related resources and that we build back better after climate-related disasters. Building on Senator Markey’s Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, Biden will use a whole-of-government approach to develop a national climate crisis strategy for each type of climate disaster that the National Climate Assessment warns will put Americans at risk (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, wildfire, air pollution, infectious disease, hurricane, and floods). And, in line with recommendations from the American Lung Association, Biden will provide additional CDC grants to every state and territory to work with their local health departments to develop climate disaster mitigation plans.

Establish a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable. The Biden Department of Health and Human Services will lead a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable including disadvantaged and frontline communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.  The Task Force will identify the health impacts of climate change that will pose the largest risk to the most vulnerable populations and work across the Department and with other agencies to use a whole-of-government approach to decrease those risks, including baseline health inequities. In addition, this Task Force will be charged with developing a ready-to-deploy recovery strategy that ensures adequate housing for individuals displaced by climate disasters.

Establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS and Launch an Infectious Disease Defense Initiative. In order to fully prepare for and minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided, Biden will establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in the Office of the Secretary of HHS, modeled after the Office of AIDS Research that was created in 1983, and invest in surveillance, early-warning systems, and research to decrease climate change and health equity risks. This new HHS Office, in collaboration with the CDC, will partner with the Department of Defense to predict the infectious diseases with the highest probability of being exacerbated by climate change, evaluate their population risk, and work with additional federal agencies to accelerate the development of vaccines or other mitigation measures that reduce the risk to Americans.

Improve the resilience of the nation’s health care system and workers in the face of natural disasters. Building on guidelines published in the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will establish a biennial Health Care System Readiness Task Force, a public-private task force to assess the current state of the nation’s health care system resilience to natural disasters and recommend strategies and investments to improve it, which will include participation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The evaluation will include an assessment of both physical health care infrastructure and the frontline health care workforce, including opportunities to provide workforce development opportunities in disadvantaged communities. In order to inform the Readiness Task Force, beginning in 2021, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Security Council will publish a declassified, annual report identifying the type, likelihood of occurrence, and locations at the highest risk, and potential impacts of natural disasters in the United States.

Women’s Marches Are Opening Salvo to 2020 Election

Raring to Rise & Roar, Women’s March on New York City, Jan. 18, 2020 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.

And the Supreme Court and all the courts now dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration were manifest.

A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and his henchmen and his enablers.

And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.

(See also: Women’s March 2020: Turnout is Crucial to Rev Up Momentum for 2020 Election)

Here are highlights from the 2020 Women’s March on New York City:

“A Woman’s Place is in the White House.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“ERA Now!” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Together We Fight For All”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Stop the War on Womens Rights; Vote Them Out Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“These Boobs Are Made for Marching.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote Vote Vote Vote” “When women’s Bodies Are More Regulated Than Guns”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Made in ‘Gina” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“So Many Lies So Little Sign Space” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Not My Dictator.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gays Against Guns. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dump Trump. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women Build march for Pay Equity. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“It’s Time to Ovary Act”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blue Wave. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“God Save America.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Pregnant and ProChoice”. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Shame.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WasherWomen Vote. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Vote. I’m Tired of Still Marching” during centennial year of Women’s Suffrage. Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“2020 Vision.” Women’s March 2020, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar Proposes to ‘Act with Urgency’ on Climate Change: Transform Energy, Rebuild Green America, Mobilize the Heartland and ‘Leave No One Behind’

US Senator Amy Klobuchar has released her plan to “act with urgency” on Climate Change: transform the energy sector, rebuild a Green America, mobilize the Heartland and “leave no one behind” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. With this summer posting heat records and yet another Category 5 hurricane wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and Atlantic islands and barreling down on the East Coast, US Senator Amy Klobuchar has released her plan to tackle the Climate Crisis, which is distinguished for a focus on agriculture and the Heartland, in addition to the more common focus on manufacturing, transportation and clean, renewable energy. This is from the Klobuchar campaign:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The climate crisis isn’t happening in 100 years — it’s happening now. 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record globally and it was another near-record year for U.S. weather and climate disasters. The dire warnings in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment make clear that immediate action is needed. The National Climate Assessment lays out how increasing global temperatures are harming our country’s food systems and public health by increasing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, while displacement and destruction caused by climate-related natural disasters threaten our economy and national security.

Senator Klobuchar is a strong voice from the Midwest when it comes to climate change. In the Senate, she leads the fight to combat climate change by serving on the Senate Climate Action Taskforce, has fought for legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, and has led a Senate resolution recognizing that global climate change is occurring and will continue to pose ongoing risks unless we take action. She authored legislation setting a national renewable electricity standard and she successfully extended renewable energy production tax credits. The first bill Senator Klobuchar ever introduced was a carbon counter bill to establish the first national greenhouse gas registry to track emissions by major industries.

Read Senator Klobuchar’s full plan here.


Confronting the Climate Crisis with Urgency 

We can’t wait. That’s why Senator Klobuchar is committed to taking immediate action — without Congress — to transform our energy sector, unlock scientific breakthroughs, hold the fossil fuel industry accountable, and support workers and communities that are on the front lines of the climate crisis. She will:

Use the full power of the presidency to tackle the climate crisis. Starting on day one of her administration, Senator Klobuchar will take aggressive executive action to confront the climate crisis. She will introduce sweeping climate legislation in the first 100 days of her presidency, but she also won’t wait for Congress when it comes to the full range of legal actions a President can take to address climate change. Specifically, in the first 100 days of her administration Senator Klobuchar will:

Get the United States back in the Paris International Climate Agreement on day one. On day one of Senator Klobuchar’s presidency she will get us back into the Paris International Climate Change Agreement, and she will immediately begin working with global leaders to strengthen the agreement so that the United States maintains global leadership to address the climate crisis.

Restore the Clean Power Plan. Senator Klobuchar will bring back the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. She will negotiate even stronger emissions standards that account for the progress states have already made. 

Bring back the fuel-economy standards. Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen our fuel economy standards, which are key to making an immediate impact on the emissions of cars and light trucks. The Trump Administration has weakened the fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks and has challenged the right of California and other states to follow more stringent standards.

Introduce sweeping legislation that will put our country on the path to 100% net zero emissions by 2050. In her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will introduce and work with Congress to pass sweeping legislation that will put our country on a path to achieving 100% net-zero emissions no later than 2050. 

End the Trump Administration’s censoring of climate science. Senator Klobuchar will end Trump Administration efforts to censor climate science through actions like deleting climate-focused websites, removing the phrase “climate change” from reports, and preventing government scientists from attending conferences on climate change.

Set ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government. During the first 100 days of her administration, Senator Klobuchar will aggressively work to reduce the federal government’s significant carbon footprint. As President, she will set ambitious goals to increase the efficiency of federal buildings, data centers, and vehicles, reduce water consumption, and increase the use of renewable energy. 

Reinstate the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee to immediately start addressing the climate crisis. The National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee was charged with translating the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete goals. During the first 100 days of her administration, Senator Klobuchar will reinstate this committee that President Trump let expire.

Hold the fossil fuel industry accountable. Senator Klobuchar is committed to standing up to the oil companies and holding the fossil fuel industry accountable. She will:

End federal fossil fuel subsidies. For too long, taxpayers have subsidized the massive profits of fossil fuel companies. Senator Klobuchar will end federal tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production. 

Make politicians accountable to voters, not special interests. Again and again, bold action on climate has been blocked by the power of special interests. As President, Senator Klobuchar will put people first by working to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get dark money out of our politics, as well as establish a campaign finance system that increases the power of small donors through a matching system for small donations. She will investigate potential wrongdoings and hold energy companies accountable. 

Expanding Renewable Energy and Transforming the Energy Sector 

There is a scientific consensus that in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change we will need to achieve 100% net-zero emissions no later than 2050, which cannot be done without a wholesale transformation of the energy sector. To expand renewable energy and transform the energy sector to produce clean power, Senator Klobuchar will:  

Invest in infrastructure and provide incentives for state and local governments, nonprofits, and private companies to expand clean energy production. Senator Klobuchar will support a landmark carbon pricing system that does not have a regressive impact on Americans and will help make clean energy production more cost competitive. She will also do more to accelerate the adoption of clean energy, including by subsidizing production and investment by state and local governments, nonprofits and private companies, as well as by upgrading our grid infrastructure and storage capabilities. 

Provide production and investment tax credits. Senator Klobuchar will create a technology neutral tax credit to support production of or investment into clean sources of energy. She will also create a clean energy bond program so that tax-exempt entities can benefit. The credits will be phased out as overall emissions are reduced. 

Upgrade energy grids and storage capacity. Our country’s electric grid needs an upgrade to account for the irregular nature of certain clean energy sources, accommodate distributed energy production, and facilitate smart metering and other innovative technologies. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create a competitive grant program and a new investment tax credit to promote investments in grid improvements and storage. She will also provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements based on a bipartisan bill she leads in the Senate.

Streamline renewable energy production on federal land. Many federal lands have significant renewable energy potential. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to streamline the permitting process for renewable projects on federal lands while protecting sensitive ecosystems and ensuring a fair distribution of payments. 

Empower municipal utilities and electric cooperatives to lead on clean energy. Senator Klobuchar knows that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to clean energy policy. She will make sure smaller producers, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, have a seat at the table when decisions are made about federal energy policy. In the Senate, she authored bipartisan legislation that was signed into law that enables rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue to use energy-efficient water heaters as part of conservation programs. This law allows cooperatives to optimize both their own energy management and the environmental benefits of water heaters. 

Reduce climate pollution. A carbon price will create an economic incentive to reduce carbon pollution and there is more we can do to limit climate pollution from existing fossil fuel production. 

Restore and expand the Clean Power Plan. In her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will bring back the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. She will negotiate even stronger emissions standards that account for the progress states have made. 

Strengthen enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws. Under the Trump Administration, EPA enforcement efforts have fallen dramatically. As President, Senator Klobuchar will direct the EPA to vigorously enforce the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws and make sure the enforcers have the resources they need.

Reduce methane leakage from oil and gas production. Methane has as much as 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. The Trump Administration has rolled back EPA and BLM rules to prevent methane leakage even though the Senate defeated an attempt to repeal the BLM methane rule on a bipartisan vote and many companies already comply with stricter state rules. As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen the EPA and BLM methane rules. 

Support research to improve negative emissions technologies. To supplement other mitigation efforts as we transition to clean energy, Senator Klobuchar will support research to improve negative emissions technologies that could be used to reduce the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.

Ban new fossil fuel permitting on federal lands and review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration. To help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, Senator Klobuchar will ban new fossil fuel permits on federal lands. Senator Klobuchar will also undertake a comprehensive review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration has revoked dozens of guidance documents and rules that protect people’s safety, health and the environment when it comes to our power plants, oil refineries, national parks and wildlife refuges, offshore drilling, pipelines, and oil and gas development. Senator Klobuchar will undertake a thorough review of all the repealed guidance and rules, and work to restore our environmental and safety protections.

Increasing Efficiency and Rebuilding a Green America

Confronting the climate crisis also means improving energy efficiency and rebuilding infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stand up to the effects of climate change. As President, Senator Klobuchar will:

Increase efficiency and move toward an electrified transportation sector. Today, transportation accounts for about 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Klobuchar will work to reduce emissions in the transportation sector through increasing fuel economy, supporting electrification, and promoting efficient transportation options. 

Bring back the fuel-economy standards. In her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen our fuel economy standards, which are key to making an immediate impact on the emissions of cars and light trucks. The Trump Administration has weakened the fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks and has challenged the right of California and other states to follow more stringent standards.

Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure and promote electric vehicle sales. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make a significant investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and bring back the tax credit for electric vehicle purchases. 

Strengthen transit and commuter rail networks and support low- and no-carbon alternatives. As President, Senator Klobuchar will refocus federal transportation grants to prioritize transit projects, first and last mile connections, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. She will also develop new incentives for transit systems and school districts to replace their existing bus fleets with low- and no-carbon alternatives. 

Revitalize freight and passenger rail. Railroads are an energy- and cost-effective way for producers to bring their goods to market and get people where they need to go. As President, Senator Klobuchar will encourage investment in short-line and freight rail networks. She will also address safety concerns including by mandating two-man crews, improving braking systems, and ensuring communities are prepared to respond to derailments involving hazardous cargo. In addition, she will build on her work pushing for greater competition in freight markets by providing fair treatment for captive shippers, appointing well qualified members to the Surface Transportation Board, and reviewing and addressing consolidation in the freight rail industry. She is also committed to expanding high-speed rail and Amtrak service in rural America.

Innovate in international shipping and aviation. International shipping and aviation account for a growing share of carbon emissions. As President, Senator Klobuchar will support research and strengthen international agreements to reduce emissions from sources like aviation and shipping. 

Support green manufacturing and provide consumers with green options. Manufacturing processes and consumer goods can have a significant climate impact. New technologies can significantly reduce carbon pollution, but we need to make sure manufacturers have the tools to adopt these technologies. 

Assist businesses transitioning to green manufacturing processes. Senator Klobuchar is committed to ensuring businesses have the resources they need to transition to green manufacturing processes. She will increase technical support through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and regional development strategies and encourage partnerships with community colleges and research universities. She will also expand manufacturing tax credits to specifically support upgrades and investments to reduce greenhouse gas pollution for manufacturers of all sizes.

Build a market for new and existing climate-friendly products. As President, Senator Klobuchar will support a market for climate-friendly products by promoting federal procurement policies that account for low-carbon energy sources and climate conscious processes.

Create a “Buy Clean” product labeling system. Many consumers are concerned about how their purchasing decisions affect the climate. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create a “Buy Clean” product labeling system to give consumers clear information about products that are produced to minimize their climate impact. 

Institute an import fee on carbon-intensive goods. We cannot allow foreign competitors to undercut U.S. manufacturers that are producing goods with climate conscious processes. That’s why as President, Senator Klobuchar will work to institute a fee on imports of carbon-intensive goods from foreign countries. 

Invest in green jobs and infrastructure. Senator Klobuchar has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure package that will modernize our aging energy infrastructure so that it is secure and efficient. This massive infrastructure investment will create good-paying union jobs and give workers the skills they need to succeed in the green economy. 

Retrofit buildings to reduce their emissions. Residential and commercial buildings account for a significant share of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Klobuchar will launch a major initiative to retrofit existing buildings to reduce their emissions through grants and tax credits that support insulation, weatherization improvements, upgrades to heating and cooling systems, and other energy saving upgrades.

Make new buildings climate friendly. As President, Senator Klobuchar will support the development of the next generation of low-emission buildings through model building energy codes and benchmarking and transparency programs that cut carbon pollution and energy bills for American families and businesses.

Promote effective zoning rules to minimize climate impacts. Some cities are beginning to update their zoning policies through initiatives like Minneapolis 2040. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.

Expand the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Senator Klobuchar has been a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which preserves natural resources while supporting outdoor recreation through investments on our public lands. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to permanently fund the LWCF.

Coordinate with broadband and other infrastructure priorities. In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has been a leading proponent of “dig once” policies and other ways to reduce costs by coordinating infrastructure deployment. As President, she will direct federal agencies to maximize opportunities for coordinating climate, broadband, and other types of infrastructure deployment. 

Build climate resiliency into all federal infrastructure investments. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make federal infrastructure investments resilient to both current and future climate risks and partner with states and communities to develop regionally coordinated, resilient infrastructure strategies.

Promoting Research and Unlocking New Scientific Breakthroughs for Green Technologies 

At the same time as we move forward aggressively with the tools we have today, we need to invest in research that will create new opportunities to tackle the climate crisis. To unlock new scientific breakthroughs and promote research, Senator Klobuchar will:

Invest in federally sponsored research. Basic and applied research can uncover new technologies, make existing products more efficient, and reduce the costs of the tools we need to take on climate change. Senator Klobuchar will increase investment in federally sponsored research.

Expand direct federal research. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make bold investments in direct climate research at the Department of Energy, National Labs, ARPA-E and the Department of Defense.

Partner with universities and non-profits. As President, Senator Klobuchar will support a major expansion of federal grants for climate research to universities and non-profits. 

Unleash the creativity of the private sector. American workers and businesses are a vital source of innovation. Senator Klobuchar believes we must include the private sector in climate research and innovation. 

Strengthen tax incentives for climate research. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen existing tax credits for businesses investing in research to develop new processes, technologies and products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help tackle the climate crisis. 

Encourage collaboration between researchers and the private sector. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make it easier for federal research grant recipients to partner with the private sector and provide set-aside grants for projects with strong commercialization potential. 

Help American companies become global green leaders. As President, Senator Klobuchar will increase support for businesses looking to export green products and technologies through a new initiative across U.S. export promotion agencies. 

Respect science and empower scientists. As President, Senator Klobuchar will stop the constant attacks on scientists and science. She will also direct all federal agencies to reimplement scientific integrity policies, reverse rules limiting what types of science agencies can use, and restart data collection canceled by the Trump Administration. 

Mobilizing the Heartland

Senator Klobuchar is a strong voice from the Midwest when it comes to climate change. She will give rural areas the tools they need to be leaders in clean energy production, support agricultural practices that take on climate change and make sure the heartland benefits from rebuilding a green America. 

Support rural clean energy production. Clean energy, including wind and solar, is a major driver of job growth in rural areas. In fact, 99 percent of operating wind capacity is located in rural areas. As part of Senator Klobuchar’s plan to tackle climate change, she will prioritize rural energy development, including expanding storage capacity and strengthening our energy grid. And as we continue to develop advanced biofuel technologies, she will strengthen the renewable fuel standard.

Invest in wind and solar and support rural energy development. As President, Senator Klobuchar will invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy. She will launch a grant program to help rural cooperatives develop energy storage and microgrid projects for renewable energy generation, transmission and storage. She will also support increased investment in small, distributed wind, solar and biogas projects.  

Provide technical resources for small, rural energy producers and distributors. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push for new economic and environmental opportunities in rural America by investing in rural renewable energy development and by passing and signing into law her bipartisan Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy (EASE) Act to provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements.

Investing in and providing incentives for homegrown energy. Senator Klobuchar believes that homegrown biofuels are an important part of our rural economies, our nation’s energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the Senate, she has been a leader when it comes to standing up to the Administration’s misuse of small refinery renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers. She has also worked successfully in the Senate to provide financing and grant support to biobased manufacturers. As President, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen the RFS, end the overuse of secret RFS small refinery waivers, promote the use of blender pumps, pass a statute to ensure year-round E15 sales, and invest in advanced and cellulosic biofuels. 

Help farmers be leaders in responding to the climate crisis. We can position American farmers to be leaders in responding to the climate crisis by increasing land conservation and expanding on new techniques that help store more carbon in topsoil on productive farmland. 

Invest in conservation innovation. Senator Klobuchar will target research into soil carbon sequestration, which could improve soil health as well as reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere. She will also expand Conservation Innovation Grants to test emerging conservation approaches, including practices that increase carbon sequestration levels. And building on provisions she included in the 2018 farm bill, Senator Klobuchar will further improve agriculture data research of conservation practices to help farmers reduce risk and increase profitability. 

Protect native sod and improve soil health. Senator Klobuchar pushed for a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that closed a loophole allowing some non-insured crops to be planted four consecutive years without a reduction in crop insurance assistance for succeeding insured crops. As President, she will expand nationwide the sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland. She will also expand the Soil Health and Income Protection Pilot Program to help provide farmers an alternative to cropping less productive cropland. 

Expand conservation practices. Senator Klobuchar has been a champion of supporting farmer conservation efforts and promoting farming practices that reduce soil erosion and improve air and water quality, including by helping pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which included several of her priorities. As President, she will support significant new investments in conservation of working and retired lands. Senator Klobuchar will support the continued expansion of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and increase resources for the Conservation Stewardship Program to help provide farmers the tools they need to protect and enhance natural resources on working agricultural lands. And after successfully increasing the acreage cap of the Conservation Reserve Program, Senator Klobuchar will work to attract more enrollees and ensure payment rates are fair. 

Use green infrastructure investment to strengthen rural communities. There is a significant infrastructure backlog in rural America. From roads and bridges to levees and stormwater systems many rural areas face infrastructure challenges that will be difficult to address without federal investment. Upgrading rural infrastructure to meet our climate goals will also provide an opportunity to address the backlog and overcome infrastructure challenges that are holding back rural America. 

Strengthen rural transportation infrastructure. Rural transportation infrastructure is at risk from the effects of climate change. As President, Senator Klobuchar will invest in the repair and improvement of rural bridges that are not part of the federal-aid highway network and invest in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to improve inland waterways and ports, including funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program to modernize and expand outdated locks and restore ecosystems along the Mississippi. 

Expand energy efficiency programs. Energy costs can be a significant burden on farms, small businesses and households in rural communities. Senator Klobuchar has long worked to see that the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has the resources needed to provide grants to farms and rural businesses to install energy efficient technologies, and she will continue to push for additional resources. In the Senate, she authored bipartisan legislation that was signed into law that empowers the nonprofit community to make energy-efficiency improvements to their buildings and offices. 

Upgrade levees to account for more frequent and severe floods. The floods we saw throughout the Midwest this year show why we cannot wait to upgrade our levees so they can protect communities from more frequent and severe floods. Senator Klobuchar will make upgrading levees a major focus of her infrastructure investment in the heartland.

Update the rural housing stock. Much of the existing rural housing stock is outdated and in poor condition, which contributes to the rural housing crisis. Investments in weatherizing and updating homes and their heating and cooling systems will build value and help renew the rural housing stock. 

Bring high-speed broadband to every household and business in America. Broadband access can reduce commuting and make business and farms more efficient. In an effort to close the rural-urban divide, Senator Klobuchar has previously announced a commitment to connect every household in America to high-speed internet by 2022. She will focus on creating accurate broadband maps to identify areas that lack adequate access, bringing high-speed internet infrastructure to areas most in need, including by expanding Rural Utility Service grants, and providing greater incentives for existing providers to upgrade their networks to cover unserved and underserved areas. She will also work to quickly implement the recommendations of the Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force to help farmers fully realize the potential of broadband in their operations.

Leaving No One Behind 

Vulnerable communities are currently experiencing a disproportionate share of the effects of climate change. Senator Klobuchar is committed to leaving no one behind through investments in climate adaptation and support for frontline communities. She will also focus on fulfilling our responsibility to our communities and workers who have helped power this country.  

Support communities that are most directly experiencing the effects of climate change. Traditionally marginalized communities including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and disabled Americans are experiencing some of the most severe effects of climate change. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize assisting these communities as they adapt to the effects of climate change. 

Make sure vulnerable communities are a key part of all decision making. We cannot continue to make decisions about climate change without directly and meaningfully involving the communities that are most affected. Senator Klobuchar will make sure traditionally marginalized communities are a key part of all decision-making processes. 

Direct resources to the communities with the greatest needs. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create tax incentives and increase federal funding to communities that are most directly experiencing the effects of climate change. She will also prioritize these communities for infrastructure investments and in other federal climate change programs. 

Strengthen environmental justice programs at the EPA. The Trump Administration has worked to dismantle environmental justice programs. Senator Klobuchar will invest in the EPA’s Environmental Justice Grants, Funding and Technical Assistance and Office of Civil Rights.

Invest in affordable housing that promotes climate resilience and mitigation. As President, Senator Klobuchar will ensure that all federal housing programs put strong standards in place to reduce carbon emissions and she will invest in retrofitting so that existing housing is more energy efficient. 

Strengthen LIHEAP and SNAP to protect the most vulnerable Americans. To be sure that the most vulnerable Americans do not bear the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen two important programs for low-income Americans — LIHEAP, which helps with home energy costs, and SNAP, which provides nutrition assistance.

Use disaster funding to build more resilient communities. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to end the Stafford Act prohibition that prevents disaster funding from being used for significant infrastructure improvements. She will also increase funding for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. 

Fulfill our responsibility to our communities and workers who have helped power this country. As the granddaughter of miner who worked 1,500 feet underground, Senator Klobuchar understands the hard work and sacrifice of those who built and powered our country. She is committed to supporting and creating new opportunities for workers and communities that have depended on the fossil fuel industry. 

Promote community assistance and support workers. Senator Klobuchar will work with the public and private sector to attract new employers and maintain public services, while investing in infrastructure and educational opportunities in areas that experience job loss. As part of any carbon pricing system, she will create a significant manufacturing tax incentive to encourage investment in rural communities or communities that have faced or are about to face job losses. To make it easier for workers to find new jobs, Senator Klobuchar will create a new tax credit for companies that hire workers who had previously depended on the fossil fuel industry for employment. Workers will also be able to take advantage of Senator Klobuchar’s previously announced plan to provide tuition-free one- and two-year community college degrees and technical certifications and expand student loan forgiveness programs to workers in in-demand occupations. 

Reestablish U.S. International Leadership on Climate. When it comes to global leadership on climate change, the United States has abdicated its leadership role under the Trump Administration. As President, Senator Klobuchar will reassert U.S. global leadership to confront the climate crisis. 

Get the United States back in the Paris International Climate Agreement on day one. On day one of Senator Klobuchar’s presidency she will get the United States back into the Paris International Climate Change Agreement, and she will immediately begin working with global leaders to strengthen the agreement so that the United States maintains global leadership to address the climate crisis. 

Build on the Paris International Climate Agreement to achieve global emissions reductions we need. Senator Klobuchar will work with international leaders to build consensus around stronger goals to limit global warming to no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. She will also recommit to controls on other greenhouse gasses through agreements like the Kigali Amendment. And she will increase U.S. support for the Green Climate Fund. 

Establish meaningful enforcement of international climate goals. The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, but still only accounts for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing catastrophic global warming will require meaningful enforcement mechanisms to ensure other countries also meet their emission reduction goals, which means making accountability for climate commitments a central part of our international agenda, taking on China’s efforts to promote dirty energy sources in other countries, and considering climate goals in all types of international assistance. 

Protect our national security. As President Senator Klobuchar will elevate the voices of our military and security experts who have repeatedly warned that climate change will increase the risks of international conflict and humanitarian crises. She will work with our allies to support countries most affected by climate change, including addressing global food and water shortages, supporting climate resilient development, helping countries adapt to the effects of climate change, and preparing for the increased risk of natural disasters. 

To pay for these critical investments, Senator Klobuchar will: 

Work with Congress to put a price on carbon that does not have a regressive impact on Americans. We know that carbon pollution has significant costs, but for too long the public has been forced to bear those costs while those responsible for the pollution have paid nothing. Most economists agree that the most efficient way to promote a transition away from fossil fuels is by putting a price on carbon. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work with Congress to put a carbon pricing system in place that does not have a regressive impact on Americans.

Develop Clean Energy Bonds. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create Clean Energy Bonds that will support investment in clean energy projects. Investors would earn back their full investment as well as interest from energy savings to the government and loan repayments for clean energy projects. Estimates suggest that these clean energy bonds could raise up to $50 billion and leverage $150 billion for clean energy innovation and the creation of over 1 million jobs.

End federal fossil fuel subsidies. For too long, taxpayers have subsidized the massive profits of fossil fuel companies. Senator Klobuchar will end federal tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production. 

Make a series of corporate tax reforms. To pay for a green infrastructure investment worth hundreds of billions of dollars, Senator Klobuchar will make a series of corporate tax reforms including adjusting the corporate tax rate to 25%, closing loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establishing a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increasing efforts for tax enforcement. 

Increase the capital gains rate. To support and create new opportunities for workers and communities that have depended on the fossil fuel industry, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate for Americans who make over $200,000. 

Close the trust fund loophole. To support updating our buildings and providing consumers support through programs like LIHEAP and rebates, Senator Klobuchar will close the trust fund loophole.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren’s Plan to Transform America’s Approach to Trade

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to break decades of Washington consensus and transform every aspect of America’s current approach to trade.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details a plan to transform America’s approach to trade: “Trade can be a powerful tool to help working families but our failed pro-corporate agenda has used trade to harm American workers and the environment. My plan represents a new approach to trade — one that uses America’s leverage to boost American workers and raise the standard of living across the globe. The President has a lot of authority to remake trade policy herself. When I’m elected, I intend to use it.” Here are the details, as provided by the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running to be the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to break decades of Washington consensus and transform every aspect of America’s current approach to trade. 

America enters trade negotiations with enormous leverage because it is the world’s most attractive market. A Warren Administration won’t hand that leverage to big corporations to use for their own narrow purposes. Elizabeth will use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages and farm income, combat climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide. Under Elizabeth’s plan, America will engage in international trade — but on our terms and only when it benefits American families. 

The plan is the third pillar of Elizabeth’s 
economic patriotism agenda. Read more about her plan here and below:
 

Last month, I released my economic patriotism agenda — my commitment to fundamentally changing the government’s approach to the economy so that we put the interests of American workers and families ahead of the interests of multinational corporations. I’ve already released my ideas for applying economic patriotism to manufacturing and to Wall Street. This is my plan for using economic patriotism to overhaul our approach to trade.

For decades, big multinational corporations have bought and lobbied their way into dictating America’s trade policy. Those big corporations have gotten rich but everyone else has paid the price. We’ve lost millions of jobs to outsourcing, depressed wages for American workers, accelerated climate change, and squeezed America’s family farmers. We’ve let China get away with the suppression of pay and labor rights, poor environmental protections, and years of currency manipulation. All to add some zeroes to the bottom lines of big corporations with no loyalty or allegiance to America.

We need to completely transform our approach to trade. America enters into trade negotiations with enormous leverage because America is the world’s most attractive market. As President, I won’t hand America’s leverage to big corporations to use for their own narrow purposes — I’ll use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages and farm income, combat climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide. We will engage in international trade — but on our terms and only when it benefits American families.

A New Approach to Trade

My plan is a new approach to trade — one that is different from both the Washington insider consensus that brought us decades of bad trade deals and from Donald Trump’s haphazard and ultimately corporate-friendly approach.

Unlike the insiders, I don’t think “free trade” deals that benefit big multinational corporations and international capital at the expense of American workers are good simply because they open up markets. Trade is good when it helps American workers and families — when it doesn’t, we need to change our approach. And unlike Trump, while I think tariffs are an important tool, they are not by themselves a long-term solution to our failed trade agenda and must be part of a broader strategy that this Administration clearly lacks.

To ensure that American families benefit from international trade in the decades to come, I want to invest in American workers and to use our leverage to force other countries to raise the bar on everything from labor and environmental standards to anti-corruption rules to access to medicine to tax enforcement. If we raise the world’s standards to our level and American workers have the chance to compete fairly, they will thrive — and millions of people around the world will be better off too.

Achieving this vision isn’t about tough talk or tweets. We must do the hard work of transforming every aspect of our current approach to trade: from our negotiating process to the negotiating objectives we pursue to the way we enforce agreements. That’s what I intend to do.

A Trade Negotiation Process that Reflects America’s Interests

Our current approach to negotiating trade agreements works great for the wealthy and the well-connected. The negotiating text is kept confidential from all but a small set of advisory groups comprised mostly of corporate executives and industry trade group representatives. Once those corporate interests are finished whispering in the ears of our negotiators, the completed text is released. Then, under the expedited “Fast Track” procedure Congress typically uses to approve trade agreements, our elected representatives must vote up or down on the agreement with no ability to propose and secure any changes to it. Meanwhile, the negotiators who constructed it often breeze through the revolving door to take jobs with the corporations whose interests underlie the deal.

This is undemocratic and obviously corrupt. In a Warren Administration, we will negotiate and approve trade agreements through a transparent process that offers the public a genuine chance to shape it:

Trade negotiators will publicly disclose negotiating drafts and provide the public with an opportunity to comment. When federal agencies write new rules, they typically must publish a proposed version of the rule and permit the public to submit comments on it. I will adopt a similar approach for our trade deals. Prior to negotiations, our negotiators will publish a draft of their proposals in the Federal Register, let the public offer comments on the draft, and take those comments into consideration during negotiations. And then as talks proceed, they will publish drafts of the negotiating texts so the public can monitor the negotiations.
 

Trade advisory committees will prioritize the views of workers and consumers. I will ensure that there are more representatives from labor, environmental, and consumer groups than from corporations and trade groups on every existing advisory committee. And I’ll expand the current list of advisory committees to create one for consumers, one for rural areas, and one for each region of the country, so that critical voices are at the table during negotiations.  

The US International Trade Commission will provide a regional analysis of the economic effects of a trade agreement. Trade agreements can hollow out communities and transform regional economies. Yet the report the ITC provides before Congress considers a trade agreement only includes a nationwide analysis of a trade deal’s economic impact. I will push for the agency to provide a region-by-region analysis so the public and Members of Congress can understand how an agreement is likely to affect the places they live and represent.  

The congressional approval process will offer more opportunities for the public and elected representatives to shape trade agreements. I will seek expedited congressional approval of trade agreements only when every regional advisory committee and the labor, consumer, and rural advisory committees unanimously certify that the agreement serves their interests. I will also expand the list of congressional committees that must review any agreement before it is eligible for expedited consideration.

Together, these changes will ensure that our negotiations reflect the views of American families, not corporate interests.

Using Our Leverage to Demand More for American Families and to Raise the Global Standard of Living

While a better process will produce better agreements, we also must fundamentally shift the goals of our trade agenda so they are aligned with the interests of America’s families.

With certain important exceptions, we live in a low-tariff world. Modern trade agreements are less about the mutual reduction of tariffs and more about establishing regulatory standards for everything from worker rights to pollution to patent protections.

My approach to trade reflects that reality. For too long, we have entered into trade deals with countries with abysmal records on laborenvironmental, and human rights issues. In exchange for concrete access to the American market, we get vague commitments to do better, which we then hardly enforce. The result is that millions of people in our trading-partner countries don’t gain the benefits of higher standards — and companies can easily pad their profits by shifting American jobs to countries where they can pay workers next to nothing and pollute the air and water freely.

That will end under my Administration. I am establishing a set of standards countries must meet as a precondition for any trade agreement with America. And I will renegotiate any agreements we have to ensure that our existing trade partners meet those standards as well.

My preconditions are that a country must:

Recognize and enforce the core labor rights of the International Labour Organization, like collective bargaining and the elimination of child labor.  

Uphold internationally recognized human rights, as reported in the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights, including the rights of indigenous people, migrant workers, and other vulnerable groups.  

Recognize and enforce religious freedom as reported in the State Department’s Country Reports.  

Comply with minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  

Be a party to the Paris Climate agreement and have a national plan that has been independently verified to put the country on track to reduce its emissions consistent with the long-term emissions goals in that agreement.  

Eliminate all domestic fossil fuel subsidies.  

Ratify the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.  

Comply with any tax treaty they have with the United States and participate in the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project to combat tax evasion and avoidance.  

Not appear on the Department of Treasury monitoring list of countries that merit attention for their currency practices.

A country should only be considered an acceptable partner if it meets these basic standards. Shamefully, America itself does not meet many of these labor and environmental standards today. I am committed to fixing that as President. And to help bring other countries up to these standards, I’ll revitalize our commitment to providing technical assistance to help countries improve.

I will also go beyond these minimum standards in key areas to promote the interests of American workers and families.

LaborI will ensure trade agreements protect Buy American and other programs designed to develop local industry, contain strong rule-of-origin standards to promote domestic manufacturing, protect worker pensions, promote equal pay for equal work for women, and prohibit violence against workers. Unlike previous trade deals agreements that have put labor standards in side agreements that are difficult to enforce, I will make labor standards central to any agreement.

Climate Change and the Environment. Climate change is real, it’s man-made, and we’re running out of time to address it. America should be leading this fight, but we have turned our backs on our responsibilities — with communities of color in the U.S. and developing countries bearing a disproportionate amount of the harm.

Trump is moving us in the wrong direction — withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, renegotiating NAFTA without even a mention of climate change, and handing special carve outs to oil and gas companies.

Beyond requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement, I have already proposed a Green Marshall Plan to dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology.

But we must do more. I will push to secure a multilateral agreement to protect domestic green policies like subsidies for green products and preferential treatment for environmentally sustainable energy production from WTO challenges. And because big corporations will move their production to the countries with the weakest greenhouse gas emissions standards — undermining global efforts to address climate change and penalizing countries that are doing their part — I will impose a border carbon adjustment so imported goods that these firms make using carbon-intensive processes are charged a fee to equalize the costs borne by companies playing by the rules.

Prescription Drugs. Last year, Americans spent more than $500 billion on prescription drugs. That’s a 50% increase since 2010. Nearly 3 in 10Americans report not taking their medicine as directed because of costs. And yet, one of the core elements of America’s current trade agenda is guaranteeing pharmaceutical firms monopoly protections so they can avoid competition from generic drugs — driving up costs and reducing access to necessary medicine abroad, and undermining our efforts to reduce drug prices here at home. That’s exactly what the Trump Administration has done as part of their failed effort to renegotiate NAFTA.

While medical innovation is important, there is no link between extremely long exclusivity periods and pharmaceutical innovation. These are giveaways to drug companies, plain and simple, which allow them to maintain ludicrously high drug prices.

As President, I will fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs here and around the world. I will never use America’s leverage to push another country to extend exclusivity periods for prescription drugs. I will support efforts to impose price controls on pharmaceuticals. And I will actively seek out opportunities to reduce exclusivity periods in our existing trade deals in exchange for securing other changes that will help America’s working families.

Agriculture. For decades, trade deals have squeezed family farmers, with Black farmers losing their land particularly quickly. Between the trade fights incited by Trump’s haphazard tariffs and a series of natural disasters, America’s farmers are now facing the worst crisis in almost 40 years. They are also facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and instability. Trump’s tariffs have reduced crop prices, threatened farmers already operating on razor-thin margins, and opened up new non-American markets against which our farmers are now forced to compete. Like trade deals of the past, Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 is written to help giant multinational agribusinesses at the expense of family farms, and it will do nothing to solve the newly created market insecurity Trump’s tariffs have caused.

As President, I will fight for trade agreements that reward American farmers for their hard work by negotiating for fair prices for goods, breaking up the monopolies in grain trading and meat packing, and protecting domestic markets to create stability for America’s family farms. And I will impose Country-of-Origin Labeling rules to protect American producers and provide transparency to consumers.

Consumer protection. We must ensure that the food we eat is high-quality and safe. But our trade agreements have limited safety standards and the inspection of imported foods, while simultaneously enabling a new flood of food imports that overwhelm food safety inspectors. In my Administration, our trade pacts will require imported food to meet domestic food safety standards, including enhanced border inspection requirements.

As with imported food, our current trade deals require us to allow imports of other products and services that do not meet domestic safety and environmental standards. My trade agreements will ensure that imported products and services must meet the same standards as domestic products and services.

Antitrust. We are in an era of massive consolidation across many sectors of the economy. One of the reasons why is that we have a narrow, permissive approach to mergers that looks only at economic efficiency and consumer welfare instead of assessing the impact that a merger will have on competition itself.

In recent years, we have added this problematic standard into trade agreements and proposed it as the defining objective for competition policy in new and renegotiated agreements. Under my administration, we will not propose this standard in any new agreement, and we will work to renegotiate agreements to remove it.

Delivering for American Families with Stronger Enforcement

Our approach to enforcing trade agreements drives down standards worldwide and undermines American families. We offer big corporations fast and powerful methods to enforce the provisions that benefit them but make it nearly impossible for Americans to enforce labor and environmental protections. Foreign governments only fear a challenge to strong rules that might hurt corporate bottom lines, not to weak rules that might not adequately protect workers, the environment, or public health.

I will entirely reorient our approach to enforcement so we drive standards up, not down. I’ll start by ending “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS, the favorable enforcement approach we offer corporations. Under ISDS, a company that believes that a new law violates some aspect of a trade agreement can skip the courts and challenge the law before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company wins, the panel can order that country’s taxpayers to pay out billions in damages — with no review by an actual court. What’s worse, the arbitration panels handing out these binding rulings are often made up of corporate lawyers whose day jobs are representing the very same companies that seek judgments before them.

Companies have used ISDS to undermine laws intended to benefit the public interest. A French company challenged Egypt when it increased the minimum wage. A Swedish company challenged Germany when it decided to cut back on nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. These cases have real effects across the globe: an ISDS panel’s decision to hear a challenge that Philip Morris brought against Uruguay’s anti-smoking campaign prompted several other countries to abandon similar public health efforts.

As President, I will not include ISDS in any new agreement and will renegotiate existing agreements to remove ISDS from them.

And I’ll strengthen our approach to enforcing labor and environmental standards. Unlike a corporation under ISDS, a labor union seeking to enforce labor standards can’t bring a claim on its own — it must convince the federal government to bring a claim on its behalf. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, our government can refuse to act for diplomatic or other unrelated reasons.

As a result, the federal government has only pursued one such claim in the last 25 years. In that one case, the American government, AFL-CIO, and Guatemalan unions spent nine years trying to challenge the Guatemalan government for violating the labor chapter of one of our trade deals because Guatemalan workers were being murdered for trying to join a union. In the end, we lost because the trade agreement required a showing that the violations had affected trade.

I will replace this broken process by creating independent commissions — made up of experts in the area — to monitor potential violations, respond to complaints, and investigate claims. The commissions must review and investigate claims promptly so that claims don’t languish for years. If one of these commissions recommends that the United States bring a claim against another country, the United States will be required to do so, without exception.

I will also fix the problem that arose in the Guatemala case by pushing to remove language from our deals that require us to show that a violation of rights was “sustained or recurring” and “affecting trade or investment.” A violation is a violation, and I won’t let another case like Guatemala happen ever again.

I will strengthen our enforcement approach in other ways as well:

Under WTO rules, a country designated as a “non-market economy” can face more serious trade penalties. I will push for a new “non-sustainable economy” designation that would allow us to impose tougher penalties on countries with systematically poor labor and environmental practices. We cannot allow countries that treat their workers and the environment poorly to undercut American producers that do things the right way.  

I already have a plan to move the lead American trade negotiator — the Office of the United States Trade Representative — within my new Department of Economic Development. That will ensure that America’s trade policy supports our broader economic agenda of defending and creating good American jobs. I will also create a new labor and environment enforcement division at the USTR to more effectively enforce obligations, and embed a labor attache at U.S. embassies to monitor compliance with our labor standards.  

Unlike the current approach that lets our government ignore unfair trade practices, my administration will create automatic triggers to initiate investigations into unfair trade practices. If those investigations produce compelling evidence of a violation, the Department will impose trade remedies immediately until the offenders show they are no longer engaging in an unfair trade practice. These automatic triggers will also apply to violations of labor and environmental standards.  

Finally, when we impose duties to support particular domestic industries, I want to ensure that the money we collect actually goes to American workers, instead of being sucked up by executives and shareholders. I will fight to change our trade laws so that we review duties every six months and lift the duties if companies can’t demonstrate the benefits of the duties are going to their workers.

Sanders, Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Climate Emergency Resolution to Marshall WWII-Scale Mobilization

Climate catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy pose an existential threat to civilization and the natural world. On Tuesday, July 9, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced a resolution in both chambers of Congress declaring that the climate emergency facing the planet demands a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States” in order to “restore the climate for future generations.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Tuesday, July 9, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced the introduction of a resolution in both chambers of Congress declaring the climate emergency facing the planet demands a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States” in order to “restore the climate for future generations.”

The resolution, cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Booker (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-Mass.), and Harris (D-Calif.), and 19 members of the House, comes in the wake of President Trump’s environmental speech yesterday, in which he avoided any mention of climate change. 

The lawmakers note in the resolution that the “United States has a proud history of collaborative, constructive, massive-scale federal mobilizations of resources and labor in order to solve great challenges, such as the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Reconstruction, the New Deal, and World War II,” and that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that the global community has little more than a decade to stop the worst impacts of climate change.  

The lawmakers’ bicameral recognition of the climate emergency stands in sharp contrast to President Trump’s recent misuse of emergency declarations, manufactured in order to seize funds that Congress refused to appropriate to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to sell Saudi Arabia weapons that Congress had blocked. Climate change, an actual emergency, has been described by Trump as a “hoax.”

“Today, as we face the global crisis of climate change, it is imperative that the United States lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  What we need now is Congressional leadership to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and tell them that their short term profits are not more important than the future of the planet.  Climate change is a national emergency, and I am proud to be introducing this resolution with my House and Senate colleagues,” Sanders said.

“To address the climate crisis, we must tell the truth about the nature of this threat,” said Blumenauer. “Congressional Republicans have teetered on the brink of ignorance for far too long and now urgent, massive action is needed. This is an emergency. We must act now.” 

“Today we stand in solidarity with tens of millions of people from around the world in calling for a mass mobilization of our social and economic resources. It is time we began a swift transition away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable renewable energy economy. Climate change represents not only our greatest threat but one of our greatest opportunities. Working to solve the climate crisis will create tens of millions of union jobs, empower communities, and improve the quality of life for people across the globe,” said Ocasio-Cortez.  

“The United States is facing a climate crisis. We must speak that truth, and then we must take bold action to confront the existential crisis before us,” said Senator Harris. “In California and across the country, Americans are already seeing the impact of the climate crisis as unprecedented floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events devastate their communities. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this resolution that affirms that the policy of the United States Congress will be based on science fact, not science fiction.”

The resolution is endorsed by 15 independent organizations.

“It’s abundantly clear that climate change has arrived and that we are living in a climate crisis. It’s past time that the federal government recognize this fact and declare a climate emergency. We need bold, comprehensive legislation to move us off fossil fuels and onto a clean energy revolution. This resolution lays out the scope of what we need to do. It’s time to act for the future of our planet,” said Mitch Jones, Climate & Energy Program Director of Food & Water Watch.

“It’s heartening to see members of Congress taking up their authority and calling out the climate crisis as it happens. We are experiencing the effects of a global emergency, right now, in every part of our nation and it demands that we take immediate action that is equitable and to scale. Communities most impacted by this crisis have known for decades that our climate is changing and that it is affecting our health, safety, and the prospects of the next generation. We applaud Sen. Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez for this step, and call on their colleagues in the House and Senate to support this resolution and show their commitment to just climate action today to give us a chance at tomorrow,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America Director of 350 Action.

“The climate crisis poses a threat unlike any other in history. If we fail to mobilize national resources very soon, with the utmost speed and unprecedented scale, we will face catastrophic harm in the coming decades and possibly existential threats to the nation and human civilization by the end of this century. There is nothing more deserving of the ‘emergency’ designation. Senator Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez should be commended for their leadership in calling the climate crisis exactly what it is: a genuine national emergency,” said David Arkush, Managing Director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. 
 
“We’re in a climate emergency fueled by a democracy emergency — an out-of-control fossil fuel industry is hijacking our government, and it’s time we acted like it and fought back. We the people demand that our government say ‘no’ to Big Oil and ‘yes’ to our futures. This resolution is a critical step toward a system that works for people, not polluters, and we thank Sen. Sanders and Reps. Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez for their bold leadership,” said Stephen Kretzmann, Founder & Executive Director of Oil Change U.S.

“Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) applauds Senator Sanders, Representative Blumenauer and Representative Ocasio-Cortez who continue to demonstrate leadership in addressing the climate crisis with this resolution. Logic dictates that we must clearly name the crisis if we are serious about addressing it. The road to a truly just and regenerative economy begins with recognizing and naming the challenge that confronts us. This resolution is a necessary step on the path to doing just that,” said Angela Adrar, Executive Director of Climate Justice Alliance.

Climate and ecological breakdown threatens to destroy human civilization and kill billions of innocent people through mass starvation, wars over declining resources, and in the worst case scenario, a runaway greenhouse effect. This historic national declaration of climate emergency formally acknowledges this unprecedented threat and demands the only sane response: A massive, federal government-led mobilization of all available resources to rapidly halt and reverse global warming through a managed phase out of coal, oil, and gas, a large-scale carbon sequestration effort, and other life-saving measures,” said Ezra Silk, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy & Policy of The Climate Mobilization.

 “We are absolutely in a climate emergency, and it’s time all of our elected officials started acting like it. Acknowledging that climate change represents a monumental threat, as this resolution does, is a critical first step. What the American people need to survive this crisis is swift action from our government to end drilling, fracking, and mining for fossil fuels and to invest in a more just, inclusive economy built on renewable energy,” said Janet Redman, Climate Campaign Director, Greenpeace USA.

“For decades our politics has been dominated by fear — fear of fossil fuel corporations, fear of a just transition, and fear of each other. As our leaders have been crippled by fear, we’re now left with only 11 years to rapidly transition off fossil fuels and toward green energy. It’s time to declare a national emergency to stop the crisis and create millions of good-paying jobs in our communities,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. 

To read a summary of the resolution, click here.

To read the resolution, click here.

What I Learned From Traveling Around the World in 23 Days

Inle Lake, Myanmar. A trip around the world affords an opportunity to meet people on their own turf. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Bill Chalmers, the “ringmaster” and Chief Experience Officer of the Global Scavenger Hunt, launches us on this around-the-world-in-23-days mystery tour with what he calls a “chimpanzee test” – a test where a chimpanzee is likely to get more answers right than a human being who has news and information available to them. The test basically demonstrates that unlike the gloom-and-doom of headlines, the trendlines are positive and these are actually the best of times for human society.

Throughout this Global Scavenger Hunt, “A Blind Date With the World” – where we don’t know where we are going next until we are told when to go to the airport or get ourselves there, and along the way, complete scavenges and challenges –  we are encouraged, even forced, to “trust in the kindness of strangers.” To interact with local people even when we can’t understand each other’s language. To learn and understand for ourselves.

For me, it is an incomparable opportunity to see in close proximity and context what is happening in countries literally around the globe – to examine this notion of American Exceptionalism, America First; to see the scope of such hot-button issues as trade, technology, migration and how they have played out over the longer course of human civilization. (I have a theory that 98% of Trump’s so-called hard-core base have never traveled beyond their own provincial border.)

As Chalmers notes, it is conceit to think we can parachute into places and understand the nuances of complex issues, but still, travel is about seeing for yourself, but also gaining an understanding of one another, disabusing stereotypes or caricatures, and most significantly, not seeing others as “other”, which works both ways. In very real ways (and especially now), travelers are ambassadors, no less than diplomats. Isolating people is not how change happens – that only hardens points of view, and makes people susceptible to fear-mongering and all the bad things that have happened throughout human history as a result. “See for yourself,” Chalmers tells us.

This is particularly poignant when we arrive in Myanmar:  One of the first things I see upon arriving in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Rangoon in its colonial days) is the National Human Rights Commission which at this juncture, strikes as ironic. But despite the awful headlines, we all find the people of Myanmar to be kind, gentle, considerate. And a complete lack of politics or angst.

And just after returning home, the two prizewinning Reuters journalists imprisoned for their reporting of the deadly crackdown on the Rohingya, were released.

War Remnants Museum, Ho C hi Minh City, Vietnam. Press photos from international journalists from the time of the Vietnam War document the atrocities committed and go unpunished © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vietnam is a testament to the resiliency of human society to rebound after wars and other crises (as we see everywhere, in fact – in Spain, in Portugal, in Greece, places that suffered during World War II, and you reflect on the success of the alliances that set the stage for 70 years of progress, now being weakened). In Vietnam, visiting the Chu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum, you cannot help but feel ashamed at the war crimes that remain unpunished because of the wealth and power of the United States.

In Gibraltar, still a colony of Great Britain, I come upon a May Day labor rally that could have been New York City: Privatization. Nonconsultation and lack of transparency. Unfair distribution. Wage increases that don’t keep up with the cost of living.

May Day Rally in Gibraltar © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Abu Dhabi is like a fantasy of a society built on oil wealth, conspicuous ostentation, a gallery of skyscrapers that defy physics; Amman, Jordan, on the other hand, is the real world. But my side trip to Petra – a fantastic city carved out of the rock faces, showed how greatness is made possible by innovations in engineering a water supply. Petra was able to dominate (and protect) the caravan routes, and the result was fabulous art and culture.

This theme picked up again in Athens, visiting the National Archaeological Museum, where I am struck by the artistry from 2500 years ago (themes and imagery that I will see again repeated throughout history on our final stop in New York City, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and realize that the human species is not smarter or better than thousands of years ago, we just have better tools and technology.

But this panel about 6th Century Greece stood out that notes the nexus between trade, migration, innovation, democracy and culture and rise of empire:

“The nature of the economy underwent a radical change as a result of the growth of trade. A new class of citizens emerged who were conscious of liberty and its potential and now demanded the right to play an active role in the running of public affairs….The liberty that was characteristic of the Greek way of life and which governed their thinking finds eloquent expression in their artistic creations. …Works of art and artists moved freely along the trade routes. The wealth and power of the city-states were expressed in the erection of monumental, lavishly adorned temples and impressive public welfare works.

“Greeks turned their attention to the natural world and to phenomena that gave rise to philosophical speculation, formulative ideas such as those of matter, the atom, force, space and time, and laying the foundations of science…”

But then came the rise of the Persian Empire and the Persian Wars.

Banquet Relief of Malku with Two Attendants, ca early 3rd C, artifact from Palmyra. The ancient site has been destroyed by ISIS and the artifacts looted © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

These themes are repeated in New York City  where our “Global Scavenger Hunt” ends. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art where the challenge I take is to find objects from five of the countries we visited, and this leads me to a fascinating exhibit, “The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East.” The museum rarely (if ever) becomes political, but in this exhibit, archaeologists comment on the destruction of Palmyra and other ancient sites by ISIS.

“It may seem frivolous to focus on monuments, museums when people are enslaved and killed. But to wipe out, destroy culture is a way of destroying people. We must protect heritage as well.”

Palmyra only exists now “on paper” and in photos after the destruction by ISIS © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is a humbling experience, to be sure, to go to the origins of the great civilizations, fast forward to today. How did they become great? How did they fall? Greatness is not inevitable or forever.  Empires rise and fall. Rulers use religion, art and monuments to establish their credibility and credentials to rule; successors blot out the culture and re-write history. Traveling around the world, you appreciate just what a small world it is, how interdependent we are, how vulnerable our societies are, and that individuals do have impact. Also, that people everywhere are more similar than different.

I come back to a monstrously disturbing New York Times headline: “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace:”

“Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.”

The Barbary Macaques delight visitors to Gibraltar but the loss of 1 million species due to human activity and development is more threatening to society and civilization than the impact on tourism revenue © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In this case, headlines are trendlines. And it isn’t just about aesthetics or seeing animals like the Barbary Macaques that delight tourists in Gibraltar, but whole economies and sustenance. It is a matter of national security, peace and progress. It is about food and water supply, disease, habitable spaces. Sea level rise alone is expected to trigger 300 million climate refugees, competing for dwindling resources. There have been periods of mass extinction in the past – in fact, homo sapiens (us) were touch and go there for awhile.

Chalmers started off our “Blind Date With the World” with the Nicholas Kristof model, that these are actually the best of times for human society despite the gloom and doom headlines. But I disagree: the trendlines are not that hopeful. We may well be living in a golden age of human capacity, but we must recognize that we now have the power of the Gods to shape, to destroy or to create. And we seem too short-sighted to see that.

“Governments must start putting people and the planet ahead of corporate interests and greed and act with the urgency this report illustrates,” writes Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA. “Leaders must adopt strong targets and implementation plans to protect biodiversity with the active participation and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Instead of plundering the forests and seas for short-term profit we need to shift our system into one that respects planetary boundaries.”

The Greek Gods may well have the last laugh at the extraordinary ability humans have to destroy themselves.

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Sanders Spotlights His Humble Roots, Early Activism in 2020 Campaign Rally in Brooklyn

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “Make no mistake, the struggle is not just about defeating Trump but taking an incredibly powerful institutions that control economy and political life of the nation.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bernie Sanders held his first major rally of his 2020 campaign for president on the campus of Brooklyn College, just a few miles from where he grew up in a 3 ½-room rent-controlled apartment, and where he attended his first year of college. As many as 7,000 people crammed in to see him on Saturday, March 2 – like the 2016 campaign, mostly young people. Judging by the enthusiasm, The Burn is back.

Bernie Sanders is hoping the rock star status he achieved in the 2016 campaign carries through to 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While the agenda now has become pretty standard fare for all the Democrats running for President – universal health care, lower drug prices, gun safety, immigration reform, climate action – and while others have emphasized the need to restore civility to political discourse (in contrast to the crass vitriol that constantly spews from Trump), what was decidedly different about Bernie is his willingness to name names, to take on the corporatists and the billionaires: Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Netflix, Disney, General Motors.

In some ways, Bernie, while taking credit for the leftward shift of the Democrats’ platform, needs to stand out – and this is his way. He also seems intent to correct any missteps from the 2016 campaign. This time around he is emphasizing his humble origins whose father migrated from Poland on his own at age 17 with “not 5 cents in his pocket, not speaking English” to escape crushing poverty and anti-Semitism and make a better life. He described a hard-scrabble life, appreciating full well the stress and anxiety of 800,000 government workers furloughed by the record-long Trump shutdown, who live paycheck to paycheck, at the mercy of employers.

Nina Turner, Jane Sanders, Shaun King at Sanders rally at Brooklyn College © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The campaign emphasized his early years as an activist, protesting against housing discrimination and horrible public schools for Chicago’s black children – but he was too modest during the 2016 to focus much attention on his early activism on behalf of civil rights. This time around, Nina Turner, who heads Our Revolution, put Bernie on the same pedestal as Martin Luther King, Jr., and journalist/activist Shaun King connected him with Black Lives Matter.

This time, Sanders also made certain to include issues that concern women on a long “to do” list: child care and women’s reproductive rights.

Jane Sanders: “Today is only the beginning. not a moment, but a movement.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Taking to the podium to introduce her husband, Jane Sanders declared, “I’m honored to be his wife – that might not be politically correct to say, but it’s one of my greatest honors of my life.”

She added, “Today is only the beginning. not a moment, but a movement.”

But as Bernie is forced to differentiate himself from the rest of the dozens of Democrats who are running, most of whom are championing the same agenda, he has to go even further than he did, and that may well turn off centrists, moderates and independents, and fall right into the hands of Trump and his minions who are made to turn against the notion of affordable, accessible health care and pharmaceuticals as some kind of Communist takeover. Imagine, as Trump told CPAC, “taking away private insurance from 180 million people,” banning beef, airplanes, indeed, individual liberty.

“Medicare for All” among the signs carried by the thousands of supporters who turned out for Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And don’t Democrats want as their #1 priority to have a candidate who can beat Trump? Which means not just the hard-left and youth who still only vote at a dismal 39% rate and are easily made too peeved to bother, but centrists, moderates, independents, who might be put off by being branded a Socialist and not the European-style Democratic Socialist (which have universal health care, parental leave, child care) but the Venezuelan kind, especially with such radical talk of a federally guaranteed job and a Green New Deal?

“Every card carrying American who loves their Social Security, public schools, roads, police, and fire services will love their Medicare for All. Labels don’t define us, we come together around issues – Medicare for All; free college,” a campaign worker noted.

“Bernie believes another world is possible, that in a modern developed world, people don’t die for lack of access to medical care. The issues are not blue or red, they are human rights.”

In actuality, the Republicans have portrayed every liberal as a Socialist with images of work camps and everyone collecting the same wage – including Obama, Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy.

Why choose Sanders? “He’s been consistent for 30 years. He’s been there for 30 years and knows where the next steps are.”

“Sanders’ success has been to inspire a revolution at the grassroots,” says a young supporter. “Look at what has happened in localities and at the state level. He alone among the Democrats who now all champion the same ideals of social, political, economic and environmental justice, has inspired such local activism.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I remark to a young fellow as we are crammed into a subway car after Bernie’s rally at Brooklyn College, how it is that with 30 years in Congress, Sanders has very little to show in the way of accomplishing the lofty goals he set out in 2016 and again for his 2020 campaign, and question how he would he be more successful as a president, given the obstructions Obama faced from a Republican minority willing to use ruthless tactics. His reply? Sanders’ success has been to inspire a revolution at the grassroots – look at what has happened in localities and at the state level. He alone among the Democrats who now all champion the same ideals of social, political, economic and environmental justice, has inspired such local activism.

Here are highlights from Sanders’ speech:

“Thank you for being part of the revolution, part of the campaign that will not just win the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history, but with your help, will transform the country and finally create an economy and a government which works for all.

“The underlying principle of government will not be greed, hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry, tax breaks for billionaires and efforts to take millions off health care. This campaign will end all that.

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “I came from a family that struggled. That influenced my life, my values. I know where I came from and will never forget. Unlike Trump who shut down government, left 800,000 employees without money to pay their bills, I know what it is like to live in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The principles of our government are based on justice: economic, social, racial, environmental justice.  Tell the insurance companies we will have Medicare for All, say to Pharmaceutical companies you will no longer charge the highest prices in world for medicines people desperately need. Your greed will end.

“We will raise the minimum wage to at least $15, rebuild infrastructure, and when we do, we will create up to 13 million decent paying jobs.

“We will have quality affordable child care…. we will make public colleges and universities tuition free.

“We say to seniors, you can’t survive on $14,000 Social Security; Republicans want to cut Social Security Benefits: we will raise it.

“We say to Trump and the fossil fuel industry: climate change is not a hoax, but an existential threat to the entire planet. We will transform away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, and when we do that, we will create millions of good paying jobs.

“All of us have moral responsibility to make sure the planet we leave our kids, our grandkids, is healthy and habitable.

”We say to the prison-industrial complex (boo), we are going to achieve real criminal justice reform. We will end the international embarrassment of having more people in jail than any other – take the $80 billion a year and invest in jobs and education instead. No more private prisons, no more profiteering form locking people up.

“No more war on drugs or keeping people in jail because too poor to afford cash bail.

“We will have real criminal justice reform –people have  records for possessing marijuana but not one Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying the economy in 2008. Instead, they got a $1 trillion bailout (boo).

“Instead of deporting undocumented immigrants, we will pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide a path to citizenship, legal status for 1.8 million DACA-eligible recipients. We will develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum – no longer snatch babies from the arms of their mothers.

“We say to the 1% and the large profitable corporations in America, under a Sanders Administration, you’re not getting more tax breaks (big cheers). We will end their tax breaks, loopholes, and they will start paying their fair share; we will end the loopholes where Amazon, Netflix, General  Motors pay nothing in federal tax, where corporations and billionaires stash money in the Caymans and other tax havens.

“We will end the military industrial complex. We won’t spend $700 billion – more than the top 10 nations combined spend. Instead, we will  invest in affordable housing, public education, invest in our crumbling infrastructure. No more major investment in never-ending wars.

“Trump wants to divide us by skin color, where we were born, gender, religion, sexual orientation. What we are about is doing the opposite: bring people together – black, white, Latino, Asian, young, old, men, women, native, immigrant, we are together.

“As return to where I was born, as I launch my campaign for president, you deserve to know where I came from, the values I developed… I grew up a few miles from here on Kings Highway, in a 3 ½ room rent-controlled apartment. My father was a paint salesman who never made much money; my mother raised the two of us. I learned about immigration from my father who came from Poland at age 17 without 5 cents in his pocket and no English, to escape crushing poverty and widespread anti-Semitism. His entire family was wiped out by Hitler. Coming from a lower middle class family, I will never forget how the lack of money always causes stress in family. My mother’s dream was to move out of rent control apartment to a home of her own. She died young and never saw that dream.

“I came from a family that struggled. That influenced my life, my values. I know where I came from and will never forget.

“Unlike Trump who shut down government, left 800,000 employees without money to pay their bills, I know what it is like to live in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.

“I didn’t have a father who gave me a $200,000 allowance when I was three years old – my allowance was 25 cents a week. But I had something more valuable – a role model of a father with courage to journey across an ocean with no money, to start a better life.

“I didn’t come from a family of privilege, who entertained people on TV by saying ‘You’re fired.’ I came from a family which understood the frightening power of employers. I didn’t attend an elite private school, I was educated in public schoo0ls in Brooklyn.

“I didn’t build a corporate empire based on housing discrimination. I protested against housing discrimination. One of my proudest moments was joining the March on Washington with Martin Luther King.

Bernie Sanders, campaigning for 2020, calls for Medicare for All, free tuition at public colleges, investment in infrastructure, not military, ending private prisons, voting rights, gun control, reproductive rights, federal jobs guarantee and affordable housing © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The last two years and before, you, I and millions, fought for justice in every part of society. Had some success against billionaires who attack unions, slash wages. We succeeded in raising wages to $15 across country – forced Amazon, Disney to do the same.

“We stood with teachers across country who went out on strike to fight for better schools.

“The forces of militarism kept us engaged in war. We fought back and for first time in 45 years, used the War Powers Act to end the Saudi-fueled war in Yemen.

“We fought to end the war on drugs, to get states to decriminalize marijuana possession and we are beginning to see records being expunged.

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “We won some victories but clearly have a long way to go.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We won some victories but clearly have a long long way to go.

“Because of the work done, we are on the brink of not just winning election but transforming our country.

 “When we are in the White House, we will enact a federal jobs guarantee.

“We will attack the problem of urban gentrification and build affordable housing this country desperately needs.

“We will end the decline of rural America – so young people in rural America have decent jobs and can remain in their communities. We will reopen rural hospitals.

“We will end the epidemic of gun violence, pass commonsense gun safety legislation.

“We will address national, racial disparity of wealth, root out institutional racism wherever it exists.

“We will end the cowardly outrage of voter suppression, and make it easier to vote.

“We will protect a woman’s right to control her own body – that is a woman’s right, not federal, state, local government.

“Make no mistake, the struggle is not just about defeating Trump but taking an incredibly powerful institutions that control economy and political life of the nation: Wall Street, insurance companies, drug companies, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry and corrupt campaign finance system that enables billionaires to buy elections.

“Brothers and sisters, we have enormous amount of work ahead. The path forward is not easy.

“Wealthy and powerful elites will do all they can to defend their financial interests, and have unlimited money. But we have the people.

“This is what I believe: if we don’t allow Trump to divide us, if we stand together – not blue states, red – but as working people believing in justice and human dignity, love and compassion, the future of this country is extraordinary and nothing we will not be able to accomplish.”

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Womens March on NYC Led by Womens March Alliance Draws Tens of Thousands

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019

Tens of thousands took to the streets of New York City on Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the third annual Women’s March organized by the Women’s March Alliance, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave and reproductive freedom, to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social, political, environmental and economic justice. (See also With Cry of ‘Your Voice Your Power,’ Alliance Mounts 3rd Annual Women’s March on NYC Jan. 19)

The marchers got particularly animated outside of Trump Tower Hotel on Central Park West, chanting “Shame, Shame, Shame,” extending a finger, and waving placards calling for “Indict, Impeach, Imprison.”

The protesters use their bodies as message boards. Here are highlights:

Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
New York City High School members of “NYC Great Girls” (Girls Reaching Every Apex Together), a leadership initiative of the NYC Department of Education, gather for the 2019 Women’s March NYC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Alexandria OcasioCortez at 2019 NYC Women’s March © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Alexandria OcasioCortez at 2019 NYC Women’s March © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney with Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer at 2019 NYC Women’s March © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019
Women’s March on NYC organized by Womens March Alliance, Jan. 19, 2019

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin