Tag Archives: climate action

Biden Signs Executive Orders to Tackle Climate Change, Create Jobs: ‘Climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy’

Solar array on a farm in Finger Lakes, New York (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

‘It’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.’

President Joe Biden equated Climate Day with Jobs Day at the White House because he knows that confronting this existential crisis is also about jobs that will build a sustainable future. Think about it: workers populated Pennsylvania and West Virginia when technology was invented to turn coal into fuel; workers flooded Texas and Oklahoma when oil was discovered. Now we need new sources of energy to replace these archaic, destructive technologies and will redeploy those workers, re-purpose those sites and develop new industries. Long Island will lead a new off-shore wind industry, other places – including farmers and ranchers – will turn their land into a new source of wealth with solar panels and windmills.

Today, President Biden signed executive actions to treat the need to tackle climate change as the national security threat it is, while at the same time countering the Republican claim of a zero-sum game that climate action will cost jobs rather than create millions of jobs. And after Republican presidents and administrations did all they could to erase “climate change” from mission statements, agencies and policies, Biden signed an executive order restoring scientific integrity.

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is “Climate Day” at the White House which means that today is “Jobs Day” at the White House.  We’re talking about American innovation, American products, American labor.  And we’re talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air, and cleaner communities.  We’re talking about national security and America leading the world in a clean energy future.

It’s a future of enormous hope and opportunity.  It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that we — that’s now facing us — climate change — with a greater sense of urgency.  In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and we can’t wait any longer.  We see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones, and it’s time to act. 

And I might note, parenthetically: If you notice, the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board — Democrat, Republican, independent. 

That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change.  And it is an existential threat. 

Last year, wildfires burned more than 5,000 acres in the West — as no one knows better than the Vice President, a former Senator from California — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled states across the Gulf Coast and along the East Coast — I can testify to that, from Delaware.  Historic floods, severe droughts have ravaged the Midwest.  More Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, coastlines, and in farmlands, in red states and blue states.  And the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military’s operational critical installations.  Two thirds.  And so this could — we could — this could well be on the conservative side. 

Record heat caussd by climate change contributed to record wildfires in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once.  It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside; it’s poor air quality.  Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.  And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis. 

We must lead global response because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone.  We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it. 

When we think of climate change, we think of it — this is a case where conscious and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same.  When I think of climate change, I think of — and the answers to it — I think of jobs. 

A key plank of our Build Back Better Recovery Plan is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs — not 7, 8, 10, 12 dollars an hour, but prevailing wage and benefits. 

You know, we can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.  We’ve already reached a point where we’re going to have to live with what it is now.  That’s going to require a lot of work all by itself, without it getting any worse. 

When we think of renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers racing to lead the global market.  We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

And I want to parenthetically thank the Secretary of Agriculture for helping to put together that program during the campaign. 

We see small business and master electricians designing, installing, and innovating energy-conserving technologies and building homes and buildings.  And we’re going to reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process.

And when the previous administration reversed the Obama-Biden vehicle standard and picked Big Oil companies over American workers, the Biden-Harris administration will not only bring those standards back, we’ll set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway systems to adapt to the changes that have already taken place.  We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives, and the residents of our cities and towns breathing cleaner air, and fewer kids living with asthma and dying from it.

And not only that, the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles, as you all know.  With today’s executive order, combined with the Buy American executive order I signed on Monday, we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

With everything I just mentioned, this will mean one million new jobs in the American automobile industry.  One million.  And we’ll do another thing: We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electric sector by 2035Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and to our environment. 

Already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy.  Clean energy.  Why?  Because it’s affordable; because it’s clean; because, in many cases, it’s cheaper.  And it’s the way we’re keeping up — they’re keeping up.  We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land-grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electric — clean electricity across distances, and battery technology, and a whole range of other things.

We need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.  We need iron workers and welders to install them.  Technologies they invent, design, and build will ultimately become cheaper than any other kind of energy, helping us dramatically expand our economy and create more jobs with a cleaner, cleaner environment.  And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of those technologies, creating even more jobs. 

Homes have to be rebuilt after hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy which decimated the coastal community of Breezy Point, Long Island (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You know, we are also — we’re going to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that are going to benefit communities three times over: one, by alleviating the affordable housing crisis; two, by increasing energy efficiency; and, three, by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.

We’re also going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.  They’re abandoned wells that are open now, and we’re going to put people to work.  They’re not going to lose jobs in these areas; they’re going to create jobs.  They’re going to get prevailing wage to cap those over a million wells.  These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams.  These are concrete, actionable solutions, and we know how to do this.

The Obama-Biden administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.  We need solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, weatherizing more — we made them cost-competitive, weatherizing more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act of our administration — the Democratic administration –made record clean energy investments: $90 billion.  The President asked me to make sure how that money was spent, on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

Now, the Biden-Harris administration is going to do it again and go beyond.  The executive order I’ll be signing establishes a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  And it’ll be led by one of America’s most distinguished climate leaders, former EPA Director Gina McCarthy.  As the head of the new office and my National Climate Advisor, Gina will chair a National Climate Task Force, made up of many members of our Cabinet, to deliver a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.

This is not time for small measures; we need to be bold.  So, let me be clear: That includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, and gas, and power plant communities.  We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth, creating new, good-paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they helped build this country.

Shuttered steel mill, Bethlehem, PA, built to be near coal (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation.  We’re going to do right by them and make sure they have opportunities to keep building the nation and their own communities and getting paid well for it.

While the whole-of-government approach is necessary, though, it’s not sufficient.  We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people organizing and leading the way.  My message to those young people is: You have the full capacity and power of the federal government.  Your government is going to work with you. 

Now, today’s executive order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, wherever possible.  We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program…We’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve them — the full value that they provide for us for future generations. 

Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up: We’re not going to ban fracking.  We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards, like controls from methane leaks and union workers in — willing to install the changes. 

Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to big oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies.  And I’m going to be going to the Congress asking them to eliminate those subsidies.

Wind turbines in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in Americamillions of jobs in wind, solar, and carbon capture.  In fact, today’s actions are going to help us increase renewable energy production from offshore wind and meet our obligation to be good stewards of our public lands. 

It establishes a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps — that I called for when I was campaigning — to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

Look, this executive order I’m signing today also makes it official that climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy. 

As Secretary Kerry — as our Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — with him, the world knows how serious I am about one of America’s — by appointing one of America’s most distinguished statesmen and one of my closest friends, speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.  John was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement that we started to — that we rejoined — this administration rejoined on day one, as I promised.

And today’s executive order will help strengthen that commitment by working with other nations to support the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to increase our collective resilience.  That includes a summit of world leaders that I’ll convene to address this climate crisis on Earth Day, this year.

In order to establish a new effort to integrate the security implications of climate change as part of our national security and risk assessment and analysis will also be included.

With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color — so-called “fenceline communities” — especially those communities — brown, black, Native American, poor whites.  It’s the hard-hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, or the Route 9 corridor in the state of Delaware. 

That’s why we’re going to work to make sure that they receive 40 percent of the benefits of key federal investments in clean energy, clean water, and wastewater infrastructureLifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation and increases the health of everybody.

Finally, as with our fight against COVID-19, we will listen to the science and protect the integrity of our federal response to the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, I nominated Dr. Eric Lander, a brilliant scientist who is here today, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology.  I also nominated another brilliant scientist, Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — so-called “PCAST” — that President Eisenhower started six weeks after the launch of Sputnik.

It’s a team of America’s top scientists charged with asking the most American of questions: “What next?  What’s the next big breakthrough?”  And then helping us make the impossible possible. 

Today, I’m signing a presidential memorandum making it clear that we will protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the Vice President, and the American people.

To summarize, this executive order — it’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and in the fa– on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.

Our plans are ambitious, but we are America.  We’re bold.  We are unwavering in the pursuit of jobs and innovation, science and discovery.  We can do this, we must do this, and we will do this.

See:  FACT SHEET: BIDEN EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CRISIS, CREATE JOBS, RESTORE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY ACROSS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

FACT SHEET: Biden Executive Actions to Tackle Climate Crisis, Create Jobs, Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

Windfarm in California. President Biden sees the transformation from carbon to renewable energy as not just essential for national security, but for economic prosperity and jobs (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Biden-Harris Administration Commits on Climate Change – Creating Jobs, Building Infrastructure, and Delivering Environmental Justice

President Biden took executive action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs and equitable clean energy future, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, restoring scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking across the federal government, and re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that the President took on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water, and communities.

President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm.

President Biden also signed an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people. Additionally, and in line with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific advisory committees, President Biden signed an Executive Order re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD EXECUTIVE ORDER

Today’s Executive Order takes bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world. In signing this Executive Order, President Biden has directed his Administration to:

Center the Climate Crisis in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Considerations

The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 

The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. 

The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; that the United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in U.S. foreign policy, the President has created a new position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council, and that it will be a U.S. priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.

The order also kicks off the process of developing the United States’ “nationally determined contribution” – our emission reduction target – under the Paris Agreement, as well as a climate finance plan.

Among numerous other steps aimed at prioritizing climate in U.S. foreign policy and national security, the order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change, the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

Take a Whole-of-Government Approach to the Climate Crisis

The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy – led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor – creating a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.

The order establishes the National Climate Task Force, assembling leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable a whole-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Leverage the Federal Government’s Footprint and Buying Power to Lead by Example

Consistent with the goals of the President’s Build Back Better jobs and economic recovery plan, of which his clean energy jobs plan is a central pillar, the order directs the federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.

In addition, the order requires those purchases be Made in America, following President Biden’s Buy American executive order. The order also directs agencies to apply and strictly enforce the prevailing wage and benefit guidelines of the Davis Bacon and other acts and encourage Project Labor Agreements. These actions reaffirm that agencies should work to ensure that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union.

The order directs each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change and directs relevant agencies to report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities – helping facilitate public access to climate related information and assisting governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.

The order directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy

The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Advance Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation

The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation. 

The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.

The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.

Revitalize Energy Communities

The order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities. 

The order tasks the new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.

In addition, the new Interagency Working Group is also directed to explore efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, like brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.

Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity

The order formalizes President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices, including strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement through new or strengthened offices at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services.  The new bodies are also tasked with advising on ways to update Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994.

The order creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.

The order initiates the development of a Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, building off EPA’s EJSCREEN, to identify disadvantaged communities, support the Justice40 Initiative, and inform equitable decision making across the federal government

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

The Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of effective and equitable programs. Improper political interference in the scientific process, with the work of scientists, and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the public trust.

The memorandum charges the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies. The OSTP Director is directed to review the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies and assess agency scientific-integrity policies and practices going forward.

In addition, agencies that oversee, direct, or fund research are tasked with designating a senior agency employee as Chief Science Officer to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded and conducted with integrity. Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government, all agencies – not just those that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research –must designate a senior career employee as the agency’s Scientific Integrity Official to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific-integrity policies and processes.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation.

To that end, and in alignment with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific and technological advisory committees, this order re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST– co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor – will advise the President on policy that affects science, technology, and innovation. The Council will also advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

Biden Announces his Team to Beat the Climate Crisis

President-Elect Joe Biden introducing his Climate team:We are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.

As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”

The  contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.

Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”

Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.”

He added, “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. 

“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.”

Biden introduced his nominees:

Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan

Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory

National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.

These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.

Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden

Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.

Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.

With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet. 

A record.

After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12 —including today’s long-overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.

Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.

The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.

A Cabinet that looks like America. 

That taps into the best of America.

That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation.

And like the rest of the team, today’s nominees are ready on Day One, which is essential because we literally have no time to lose.

Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.

Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and across the Gulf and along the East Coast. 

Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest.

And more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.

Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.

Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.

And so many climate and health calamities are colliding at once.

It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside — it’s poor air quality.

Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19. 

Folks, we’re in a crisis.

Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. 
 
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.

And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. 
That’s what this Administration will do.

When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.

A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy future.

We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.

When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.

We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

And we will challenge everyone to step up.

We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.

The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country. 

We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.

Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles. 

And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry. 

And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.

Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
 
But we need to get to work right away.
 
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
 
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.

We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.

That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.

We know how to do this. 

The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool. 

We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.

We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to homeownership.

We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.

We’ll launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. 

But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.

Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.

But it is necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. 

These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions.

And this team will get them done. 

For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.

She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a Marine now buried in Arlington.

A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business.

When times were tough, they relied on food stamps.

Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and got involved in politics.

Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.

She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect 
of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor. 

As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.

The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial. 

With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.

For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.

The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.

In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.

But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.

Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.

Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking.

Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.

Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy. 

Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy. 

For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.

A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.

He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.

He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, 
where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.

He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.

And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity. 

It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.

Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.

He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.

He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.

For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.

An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.

A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.

She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.

As Chair of CEQ, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today. 

Brenda would be the first African American official to hold this critical position. 

We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again.

To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.

The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.

Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.

She’s a policy wonk and a people person. 

A problem-solver and coalition builder.

As EPA Administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama-Biden Climate Action Plan.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Getting toxins out of the air we breathe. Conserving critical water sources.

She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants of the future.

And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.

Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda 
here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.

I’m grateful to work alongside her again.

And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.

He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. 

He helped draft and implement our Climate Action Plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement.

He currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment and the State’s Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance.

He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations and a more modern grid, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.

And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.

Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs. 

He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten. 

And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.

To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.

To your families, thank you. 

We could not do this without you or them.

To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.

And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today are bold. 

The challenges ahead are daunting.

But I want you to know that we can do this.

We must do this. 

And we will do this.

We are America. 

And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland is Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Interior, the first Native American to be nominated for cabinet member: “We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland

I’m proud to stand here — on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Tribal Nation. 

The president-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior. 

Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom. 

These struggles give me perspective to help people succeed. 

My grandparents — who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school, in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities — maintained our culture. 

This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.

I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here. 

My dad was a US Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors. 

Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the Earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience. 

As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges. 

The president-elect’s goals are driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence.  

And we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.

We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge. 

The president-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under Interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation — they’re woven in with justice, good jobs, and closing the racial, wealth, and health gaps. 

This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position.

I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.

I am honored and ready to serve.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, is nominated to become Secretary of Energy: “The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world. We can win those jobs for American workers.”© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy,  Jennifer Granholm

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect — thank you for your confidence.

I bring my gratitude, and that of the loves of my life: My best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.  

My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.

I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.

Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.

But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”

Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.

Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.

Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.

They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.

Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?

In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?

The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.

We can win those jobs for American workers. 

I know what those jobs will mean for families.

Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity. 

My mom is a funny and fierce Irish/Welsh “Newfie” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”

Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.

My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.

He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.

My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.

My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.

My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.  

Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.

It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.

Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.

We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.

I’m so ready, and honored, Coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team — to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country, and especially in the hardest-hit places, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.

Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.

Biden nominated Michael Regan to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: “We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet. And that’s what we’ll pursue together.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect: Thank you for this opportunity.

Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina — I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.

But I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad.

I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health — how the world around us contributes to, or detracts from, our enjoyment of life.

So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular I wanted to work: the EPA.

When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.

So this opportunity is a dream come true.

Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: To safeguard our natural resources; to improve the quality of our air and water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.

Now, I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake.

When President-elect Biden called out the plight of fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities —  we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.

He has already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America — and I’m proud to join the vice president-elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration.

Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle the tough issues.

After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.

And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.

We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.

We will be driven by our conviction that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life no matter how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.

We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.

But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.

And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive — they go hand in hand.

We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet.

And that’s what we’ll pursue together. 

I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.

Biden is appointing environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality: “CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory

Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect —I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team.

I am especially grateful for this chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism, and so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent and interwoven crises.

I know first-hand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family.

I grew up in the working-class community of Waterbury, Connecticut — a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution. 

While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.

In that setting, there was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives.

For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important.

Service, in all its forms, was essential.

They taught me to be a problem-solver — to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.

This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey. 

I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life. 

I became the first in my family to go to college, I attended law school, and at each stage, I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.

I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of decisions.

As a staffer at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled.  

It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security, and prosperity of all their people.

The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality. 

CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.

I am grateful to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve.

Gina McCarthy, the former EPA Administrator, will be the first-ever National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy: “Climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on. Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes. And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy

Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—

Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.

The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.

As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.

My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.

Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.  

A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.

That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.

That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.  

I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.

That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember. 

So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.  

And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.

Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.

And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.

I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.

Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.

And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world. 

But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, energy, and excitement.

We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together.

The President-elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.

It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.

It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.

Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying jobs to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, more vibrant lives.

 

Biden is appointing Ali Zaidi his Deputy National Climate Advisor: “For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident. But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries. And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi

Thank you President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.

I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence.

For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident.

But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries. 

And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.

Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, not only by listening to the science, but also by invigorating the economy. Revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice — long overdue.

Leading by the example of America at its best.

When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids — and a few suitcases of dreams.

Dreams their kids are living today: 

Danish, my brother: a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.

To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.

I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.

Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage, and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration.

This has been a trying year for all Americans — marked by so much loss. But throughout, you have been there for us. 

And when the pandemic hit closer to home, you were there for me.

Mr. President-elect, that is who you are.  A person of faith and family, decency and goodness. 

Your leadership gives me hope.    

My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope

Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope

And together, I know: We will meet this moment.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “These public servants reflect the very best of America. And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

A few months ago, as wildfires raged across the West, I traveled home to California. 

What I saw on that trip — and so many others in recent years — was heartbreaking.

Charred playgrounds.

Homes and neighborhoods in ashes. 

Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.

Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world. 

Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history. 

This fire season was even worse. The worst in California’s history — and America’s history. 

And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis. 

In recent years, families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding, while families along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record. 

They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year, we had more named storms than ever before.

Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue. 

And it is not a hoax. 

It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure. 

Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country. 

Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. 

So does the president-elect. 

Part of the reason I was so proud to join him as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history.

A plan to secure carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035. 

A plan to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

A plan to invest in a clean energy future, and create millions of good-paying, union jobs, along the way.

And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.

They are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts.

They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change. 

They recognize the importance of bringing the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world.

And they are compassionate leaders who understand that, ultimately, addressing climate change is about building safer communities, and healthier communities, and thriving communities, for all Americans.

These public servants reflect the very best of America. And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge. 

In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”

Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together, here in our country and around the world, to build and protect our common home for generations to come.

Thank you, Mr. President-elect.

Biden: ‘If you give a climate arsonist 4 more years, why be surprised if more of America is ablaze?’

Vice President Joe Biden delivers an address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Climate Change: “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America… Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership. It requires a president for all Americans.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While Trump continues to deny climate change as a “hoax” (one perpetrated by China to hurt US business), minimize the destruction to life and livehood of the wildfires setting the West ablaze that he blamed on California’s “failure” to adequately rake the forest floor, actively denigrate public health experts while promoting conditions for the super-spread of coronavirus, and call for Obama to be jailed for treason, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out on the urgency to address the existential climate crisis and how he would address it.  

“The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us…It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating…

 “Our response should be grounded in science. Acting together. All of us. But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions…

But if Trump gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
 
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..

“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.

“Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
 
“It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Delaware:

Good afternoon.
 
As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.
 
The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.
 
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
 
Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.
 
And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods
— which I’d like to talk about today.
 
Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.
 
We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.
 
Think about that.
 
People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.
 
Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.
 
Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.
 
This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.
 
And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.
 
Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.
 
The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.
 
But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.
 
Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.
 
We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.
 
I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
 
It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.
 
And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.
 
Think about that reality.
 
Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.
 
We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.
 
This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.
 
But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.
 
The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded
. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.
 
What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.
 
With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.
 
It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.
 
Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.
 
Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.
 

These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year. 
 
It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy. 
 
How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?
 
And none of this happens in a vacuum.
 
A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
 
Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.
 
The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.
 
These are the interlocking crises of our time.
 
It requires action, not denial.
 
It requires leadership, not scapegoating.
 
It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.
 
Because here’s the deal.
 
Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.
 
The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.
 
It’s science.
 
And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.
 
But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.
 
I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate. 
 
Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.
 
As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.
 
We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands,
as any president should do during a national emergency.
 
He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.
 
This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.
 
The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.
 
He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”
 
This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.
 
We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.
 
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
 
Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.
 
But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
 
Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous. 
 
But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?
 
Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts. 
 
If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
 
If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? 
 
If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?
 
We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.
 
A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.
 
Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.
 
Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.
 
He fails to protect us.
 
And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
 
What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.
 
And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.
 
We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”
 
I think: “jobs.”
 
Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.
 
A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.
 
I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
 
I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.
 
This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
 
While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.
 
Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.
 
I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.
 
And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
 
Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.
 
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
 
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
 
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.
 
We need to get to work right away.
 
We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
 
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.
 
And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
 
We know how to do this.
 
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
 
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.
 
We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.
 
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
 
There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.
 
We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.
 
We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.
 
We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
 
I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. 
 
That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now. 
 
But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware. 
 
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans —  especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.
 
But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it. 
 
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs,  mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
 
Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.
 
But here’s the thing. 
 
Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice. 
 
We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change. 
 
Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable. 
 
We have a choice.
 
We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.
 
Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.
 
It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead. 
 
And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.
 
Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
 
It requires a president for all Americans.
 
So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.
 
I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.
 
A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.
 
I want you to know that we can do this.
 
We will do this.
 
We are America.
 
We see the light through the dark smoke.
 
We never give up.
 
Always.
 
Without exception.

Every time.
 
May God bless our firefighters and first responders.
 
May God protect our troops.

Biden: 9-Point Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution

Vice President Joe Biden presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. This is from the Biden campaign:

President Trump has spent his presidency ignoring the experts and scientists, reversing the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to address climate change, abandoning communities and workers, and blocking states and cities trying to lead— going backwards, all while we should have been doing even more.
 
On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously, because there’s no time to waste.
 
Here are 9 key elements of Joe Biden’s plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice:
 
1) Take executive action on Day 1 to not just reverse all of the damage Trump has done, but go further and faster. Day 1 of the Biden Administration is going to be very busy! To immediately make progress on his climate agenda, Biden will take actions including requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles; protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters; and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.
 
2) Work with Congress to enact in 2021, President Biden’s first year in office, legislation that, by the end of his first term, puts us on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting.
 
3) Rally the world to urgent and additional action. We know we cannot solve this emergency on our own: the United States accounts for only 15% of global emissions. On Day 1, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. But we must go further. In his first 100 days in office, Biden will convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.
 
4) Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will invest $400 billion over ten years, as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation. That investment is twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. He will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies.
 
5) Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout our economy. Creating the best, most innovative clean technology in the world is not enough. We also need to make sure it is used by households and industry in order to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. And, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone.
 
6) Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change. But the impacts of climate change (and inaction on climate change) – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. The coronavirus pandemic, which early data suggests is linked to air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities, is shining new light on this reality. Biden will make it a priority for all federal agencies — and hold them accountable for results — to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
 
7) Hold polluters accountable. On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. But that’s not all: Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department 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 when merited. 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. These companies must be accountable to the American people, the communities where they operate, and the workers they employ.
 
8) Create 10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs. Every federal dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden Administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of this climate crisis. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting workers across industries.
 
9) Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have risked their lives to produce fossil fuels that made it possible for America to win world wars and become an industrial power. Biden will stand with communities and workers impacted by the changing energy market, including by increasing coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reforming the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expanding efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforcing regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place. Biden will also establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.
 
Read Biden’s full climate and environmental justice plan at joebiden.com/climate

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Plan to Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.

Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. 
 
Elizabeth rang the alarm in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate change.  It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. 

As President, Elizabeth Warren will:

Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
 

Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate.
 

Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. 
 

Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
 

Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 

Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities — by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. 
 

Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects.
 

Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
 

Work with international allies by:
 

Advocating for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System
 

Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. 
 

Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home under the Green Marshall Plan.
 

Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. 
 

Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.

Read the plan here and below: 
 
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis 
 
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial crisis growing, I rang the alarm as loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen — not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat taxpayer bailout. 
 
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. 
 
Climate change threatens our financial system in two ways. First, it poses a physical risk to property as climate-fueled extreme weather events — floods, hurricanes, wildfires — become more and more frequent. Second, it poses transition risks to our economy: investments in the fossil fuel industry may abruptly lose value as we transition to a clean economy, posing risks of financial crisis and destabilization. If we remain on a pathway to 2°C of warming (right now we’re on track for roughly 3°C of warming), the costs to the financial system could reach as much as $69 trillion by 2100. Other estimates put the global economic losses caused by climate change at $23 trillion –– still roughly three or four times the scale of the 2008 crisis.
 
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and asset managers have actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. 
 
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan — the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects, restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager –– announced that it will exit investments with high environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either. 
 
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments. Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy –– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil fuels. 
 
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way Wall Street is currently doing business. 
 
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is a systemic risk to our financial system
 
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a “catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to “a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play a much larger role in tackling the crisis. 
 
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in the lead up to the 2008 financial crash. 
 
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that climate change poses.
 
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their climate-related risks.
 
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate the transition towards a clean energy economy.
 
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange Commission
 
Publicly traded companies, including big banks, have an obligation to share important information about their business. But right now, these companies don’t share much about how climate change might affect their business, their customers, and their investors. 
 
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage. Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications” for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
 
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
 
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
 
Protect Pensions 
 
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet today, our pension systems are failing our public employees. That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement accounts. 
 
One recent analysis found that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS –– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees –– would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10 years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this year CalSTRS rejected divestment, claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the health of the fund.” 
 
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 
And, as a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy –– and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality. 
 
Ensure insurers accurately price climate risk 
 
Insurers are the financial intermediaries most directly exposed to climate change’s risks because their core business requires them to underwrite damages on physical property. As the climate crisis accelerates the size and scale of disasters, the models that insurers have long relied on are increasingly unpredictable, generating unprecedented losses. In 2017 and 2018 alone, insurance companies paid out an estimated $219 billion in natural disaster-related claims –– the highest for any two-year period in history. One California-based insurer filed for bankruptcy after it couldn’t pay out the millions it owed policyholders whose homes had been destroyed in California’s Camp Fire.
 
But despite insurance companies knowing the size of the climate risk — they literally write it into their risk models — still they fan the flames of the climate crisis by underwriting the fossil fuel companies behind the crisis. Large insurers had over $500 billion in fossil fuel-related investments as of 2016. And of the combined $15 trillion in assets managed by the world’s 80 largest insurers, an average of only one percent is allocated to low-carbon investments. If insurers stopped providing insurance for coal-fired power plants it would be nearly impossible to secure financing for new power plants.
 
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states in tornado alley experiencing the highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half a billion in premiums since the prior year.
 
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.
 
Personnel is Policy
 
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s lying: study after study shows that we are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate crisis. 
 
I have often said that personnel is policy. The regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:  

I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin — believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because right now, research in both of those fields shows how vital it is that we expose the climate risk. 
 

I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council — who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
 

I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC chair who will use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil fuels. 

The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m in office. 
 
Work with international allies
 
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league. 
 
Leaders across the globe recognize the risk that the climate crisis poses to their financial systems: environmental concerns make up the top five long-term global economic risks for leaders surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020. Manymany other countries have not only recognized the risk but are already taking steps to address it. The President of the European Central Bank has called for climate change to be an “essential part of monetary policymaking,” and the Bank of England has introduced stress tests to assess the UK financial system’s exposure to climate-linked financial risks. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his fossil fuel cronies are letting the U.S. fall behind, putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk. 
 
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead. Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean energy.

NYS Makes $4.3 Million in Grants to Reduce Food Waste, Help Hungry New Yorkers & Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Following a Gold Coast International Film Festival screening of the documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” panelelists discussed the issue of food waste, how it directly contributes to climate change, and what the state, local community and individuals can do to help solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st century. The panel consisted of Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO of Island Harvest, Halie Meyers chief of staff representing NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright. Not shown, Kendrick Repko, Brand Lead, Sustainable Retailing for Stop & Shop. The documentary, from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, gives persuasive argument and offers realistic solutions for changing the way food is raised, distributed, stored, processed, purchased, cooked and recycled. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has made $4.3 million in grants for 111 projects across the state that will help prevent hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and recycling. The grants will support efforts by municipalities and organizations, such as pantries and soup kitchens, to help divert scraps for recycling and reduce the amount of organic waste by redirecting excess, edible food to New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity.

“Wasted food hurts needy families facing the terrible challenges of food insecurity and harms the environment by growing landfills and contributing to climate change,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said“These awards are the latest step New York is taking to help local governments and community organizations support smart investments that prevent food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by food disposal, and provide nutritious and healthy food to combat hunger across New York State.”

Wasted food has significant environmental, social, and economic impacts and these grants help support municipalities and emergency food relief organizations by improving food rescue efforts and diverting food scraps from disposal in landfills. Reducing the landfilling of food scraps is also recognized as a valuable mitigation measure in the state’s ongoing fight against climate change. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will administer the grants.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “It is a sad fact that Americans waste about 25 percent of the food purchased, leading to negative impacts on our environment and a waste of food resources that could otherwise be used to help people in need. The projects supported by the grants announced today are a combination of public outreach initiatives and innovative, common-sense approaches to promoting food recycling, helping the hungry, and reducing waste to build stronger, healthier, and environmentally sustainable communities.”

Municipal Food Scraps Reduction, Food Donation, and Food Scraps Recycling Grants

DEC is awarding a total of $3.28 million in grants to 27 municipal projects that will use innovative and comprehensive approaches to support wasted food prevention and reduction initiatives, streamline food donation and rescue efforts, and/or develop organics recycling programs and facilities. Many projects involve strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to reduce the volume of wasted food and food scraps entering the municipal waste stream. This is accomplished through the development and implementation of wasted food reduction education and outreach programs and by establishing municipal composting and other organics recycling infrastructure. Among the highlights of the municipal grant projects:

  • City of Cortland $195,936: The funding will support the Cortland Food Project Rescue and Waste Prevention, a comprehensive community education campaign focused on wasted food prevention and reduction. The city will develop and implement Cortland’s first local food rescue system and volunteer network to seek out large quantities of “past prime” produce that program staff and volunteers will be trained to process into value-added food products. The city will then coordinate with existing local hunger projects, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and the planned commercial community kitchen and entrepreneurship program to be located at the Homer Avenue Revitalization Project site;
  • Town of Ossining $99,145: The town will create a comprehensive food scraps recycling pilot program to serve approximately 38,300 residents and neighboring areas. The town will: purchase collection bins for several public sites, including nearby Environmental Justice communities and for residential home use; develop informational materials to include in the kits residents will use in their homes; and Teatown Lake Reservation will begin community education events and programming regarding food waste prevention and reduction, composting, and the town-run food scrap recycling program;
  • Tompkins County $70,426: The county will address wasted food prevention and food donation by targeting apartment complexes and multifamily units in the county. The project will educate tenants and property managers, focusing on smart shopping, smart storage, and smart food prep; site a food hub cooler for sharing excess edible food, with leftover donations going to Friendship Donations Network (FDN) for further distribution throughout the Tompkins County community; provide tenants with free toolkits to collect food scraps from their kitchens for composting; and develop “kitchen to compost” educational materials; and
  • Village of Sleepy Hollow $11,286: The village will develop and launch a comprehensive food scraps recycling program that includes: education efforts and materials that are accessible for all residents, despite income or language barriers; create a food scraps recycling program that offers 500 free starter kits (countertop food scraps collection pail and storage bin) to residents for composting; and create outreach materials designed to reach all demographics in the village, including Spanish-language translations, and engaging low-income residents and seniors in the participation of the project.

Emergency Food Relief Organization Grants

Food pantries and other local emergency food relief organizations are on the front lines when it comes to helping those in need. These organizations often rely on donations of food through partnerships with local businesses, farms, and other food donors to supplement their inventories of wholesome food. However, as many of these food pantries and organizations are volunteer-run and have limited funds, they often do not have the resources to establish these partnerships or purchase the necessary storage equipment and vehicles to transport donated perishable foods. Due to these challenges, highly nutritious, perishable food that is ready to be distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens — such as fresh produce ­— often goes to waste, despite the efforts of donors and food rescue organizations.

DEC is funding 84 projects with $1.1 million to support projects including: hiring food recovery staff focused on developing donation partnerships; purchasing efficient cold storage equipment; kitchen equipment to prepared rescued, perishable produce; vehicles to transport rescued food; and the implementation of hyper-local perishable and prepared food recovery and distribution networks. In addition, several projects include the establishment of nutrition and cooking classes to help them use the food they receive from the pantries most efficiently. These classes and workshops help clients reduce wasted food and stretch limited food budgets. Highlighted grant projects include:

  • Iris House $13,720: Iris House in Central Harlem will use the funds to support efforts to distribute food closer to the residents of East Harlem in New York City. Iris House will use part of the grant funds to cover the operation costs of a van to transport food pantry bag distribution to pop-up locations in East Harlem to save residents the costs of transportation to Central Harlem. Iris House will also develop and distribute brochures about nutrition and to advertise their services and provide information about free food availability;
  • Second Chance Foods $15,000: Second Chance Foods is not-for-profit food rescue organization in Carmel, New York, that will use the grant to support the salary of a kitchen manager to process rescued food into cooked meals or prepare parts of meals to donate to local food programs. By processing rescued food such as blemished produce and unfamiliar foods, Second Chance Foods makes more rescued food “usable” by soup kitchen managers and pantry clients, preventing wasted food and increasing the amount of wholesome food available to people;
  • Comfort Food of Washington County, Inc. $12,420: Comfort Food Community serves a rural county with limited access to grocery stores and a significant percent of the population in poverty. CFC will hire a seasonal Food Recovery Assistant to improve gleaning efforts at the 35 farms in their service area through volunteer recruitment and management, as well as coordinating and supervising rescue efforts. The Food Recovery Assistant will also work on outreach and education elements of the Fresh Food Collective. CFC will also use these grant funds to dedicate staff time to developing recipe cards and coordinated meal kits for the gleaned produce to help ensure that recipients of the produce are able to use all of it properly and incorporate more nutritious food into their diets; and
  • Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. $15,000: Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc., is not-for-profit organization in Saratoga Springs dedicated to urban agriculture, farmland conservation, community empowerment, and increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. The farm will install a “Giving Garden” dedicated to growing food for food pantries and will use the grant to hire a farm manager to oversee the Giving Garden and associated donation partnerships; construct a wash/pack station to properly prepare freshly harvested vegetables in a safe, reliable, and convenient way; and install a walk-in cooler to store food before it is donated to local pantries.

A complete list of awardees/grantees and summaries of projects is available at the DEC website. For more information about how to reduce food waste in all New York households: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/98102.html.

New York State has long been committed to the fight against hunger and Governor Cuomo has launched groundbreaking initiatives and programs in recent years, including the Council on Hunger and Food Policy, Vital Brooklyn, and the No Student Goes Hungry initiative to combat hunger, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods, and bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities. The grants announced today also build upon the success of the 2019 Food Donations and Food Scraps Recycling law signed by the Governor, that requires all designated food scraps generators to first donate edible food to those in need, and secondly, to recycle food scraps if a viable recycling facility is located within 25 miles. In response to this crucial legislation, DEC has provided $800,000 to Feeding New York State for additional resources to handle the anticipated influx of donated food.

The grant announcement was made at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, to help prepare New Yorkers for the statewide ban on plastic carryout bags, which begins March 1. DEC, in coordination with Feeding New York State, will distribute reusable bags to food banks across the state as part of DEC’s efforts to encourage consumers to bring their own bags whenever and wherever they shop. Feeding New York State helps feed millions of people each year through more than 5,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs.

The BYOBagNY initiative is part of New York’s comprehensive outreach campaign with state and local partners to educate retailers and consumers about the plastic bag ban, which will help reduce the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state’s environment and communities. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. For more information about the outreach efforts and details of the law’s implementation, visit DEC’s website.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren’s Plans for Green New Deal Will Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs

Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs © 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 has released independent analysis supporting her plans for a Green New Deal creating 10.6 million new green jobs. This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs. 

“America has a long and proud history of rising to the challenges that have faced this country — and defeating the climate crisis is no exception. A Warren administration will ensure that as we fight climate change, each and every American benefits from the opportunities created by the clean economy — especially the 10.6 million workers who will power our transition to 100% clean energy.”
 
Elizabeth Warren’s plans for a Green New Deal will:

Develop the green workforce of the future by expanding job training, partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class, and ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone

Rebuild and repower our energy grid to grow our economy, invest in offshore wind, and achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030

Transform our transportation sector by expanding green public transportation programs and requiring all new light and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles

Repair our water infrastructure by rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways and ensuring safe drinking water for all

Rebuild our homes, buildings and schools to achieve safe and affordable housing and provide our children with healthy living and learning environments

Finance the green jobs program by creating a new Green Bank and issuing Green Victory Bonds, modeled after the programs FDR implemented during the New Deal

 
My Plan to Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs
 
Earlier this month, climate scientists published new research suggesting the planet is hurtling towards an ecological tipping point that would irreversibly damage the earth and threaten our livable climate — for good. This most recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change is happening faster than scientists originally thought. And it further reinforces what we already know: we have roughly a decade left to avoid catastrophic impacts by ending our economic dependence on fossil fuels and substantially reducing global emissions.

But while climate change presents an urgent threat, it also presents the greatest opportunity of our time: the chance to rebuild our economy with 100% clean energy, to address the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy, and to create millions of good, union jobs in the process.
This is not the first time our country has faced a threat of this magnitude.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said we would build a historic air force of 185,000 planes to defeat the Nazis, America had a nascent military aircraft industry. But FDR rallied the nation to the task: by the end of World War II, we had produced around 300,000 aircraft in less than 5 years.

When John F. Kennedy told the nation that we would send a man to the moon in under a decade, people said that would be impossible, too. But our top scientists and engineers came together and changed the world forever, delivering not just a lunar landing but also a torrent of new technology that helped working Americans here at home.

From World War II to the space race, American ingenuity has risen to meet seemingly impossible challenges — leading the world and unleashing economic benefits for Americans in the process.

Today we face a new challenge. Defeating the climate crisis will require the ingenuity of the moon landing and an economic and industrial mobilization unseen since our efforts in World War II. It will need to happen at the speed and scale of FDR’s New Deal, which launched over 50 federal programs and pulled millions of Americans out of unemployment. It will take workers of all kinds to rebuild and repower our energy grid and to upgrade our transportation, building, and water systems to guard against the worst effects of climate change and protect our most vulnerable communities. And it will take workers in every corner of America — from construction foremen in the Rust Belt to pipefitters in the Bayou — to transform our country’s infrastructure.

The Green New Deal is the answer to this national call.

After the 2008 crash, President Obama ushered through the historic American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to jumpstart our economy and bring an end to the Great Recession. Included in this total federal investment was $90 billion for clean energy, making it one of the largest investments in clean energy in U.S. history. The Council of Economic Advisors later reported that every $1 invested in clean energy leveraged an additional $1.60 in non-federal and private dollars.

Using this historical data and other estimates as a guide, my plans for a Green New Deal will result in an estimated total public and private investment of $10.7 trillion in our new clean energy economy. And independent experts that examined my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. This will help rebuild the middle class by providing family-supporting wages, career pathways, and worker protections in our new green economy.
This is the opportunity of the Green New Deal: a $10.7 trillion total investment in our clean economy that spurs 10.6 million green new jobs. And we’ll do it all together — with no community and no worker left behind.

I mean it when I say that defeating the climate crisis will be a top priority of my administration. That’s why today I’m releasing my plan to enact a climate change agenda that not only reduces our carbon emissions but also jumpstarts our economy.

Developing the Green Workforce of the Future

There are already clean energy job opportunities across the country. But with $10.7 trillion in federal and private investments, we can turn these opportunities into 10.6 million new, union jobs rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and transitioning to the new clean energy economy. To support the millions of skilled and experienced contractors we will need to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects in the new clean economy and to support the first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and other public and private employees who respond to climate-induced disasters, my administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college.

Expanding job training.

We currently invest $200 million annually in apprenticeship programs across the country. Successfully training and re-training millions of skilled laborers to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, however, will require scaling up dramatically. That’s why my plan to Defend and Create American Jobs calls for a tenfold increase in investments in apprenticeships — a $20 billion commitment over the next ten years. I’ll follow Governor Inslee’s lead by re-establishing dedicated programs for green industrial and construction job training and placement under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), too.

And investing in job training is only the first step. A Warren administration will link public investments in clean energy infrastructure to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training, as well as graduation rates and local hires, to ensure that we are creating a full training-to-career pipeline. My plans also call for expanded technical and trade school opportunities to create pathways into good jobs in the new clean energy economy that will not require a college degree. And my administration will create regional sector-specific training partnerships to help better align training with the local job market, leverage the community college system, and ensure that workers gain transferable skills.

Partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class.

I am committed to ensuring that all of the 10.6 million new jobs in the clean economy pull working Americans back into the middle class — and to working hand-in-hand with unions to do so. That’s why I will fight for good wages and strong benefits for every worker that joins the new clean economy. A Warren administration will condition federal clean energy investments to state, local, and tribal governments on employers offering family-supporting wages and benefits — and will enforce this through Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wage laws, and Community Benefit Agreements. And I will work hand-in-hand with unions to return power to the working people powering the green economy. Unions built the middle class and unions will rebuild the middle class in the green economy of the future, too.

I’ve already committed to making sweeping reforms to our labor policy. These changes will extend labor rights to all workers — for example, narrowing the definition of “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act to end the exclusion of workers like the construction foremen that will lead the charge on building our clean energy grids. They will guarantee workers entering this new economy have a voice in actually shaping it by strengthening organizing and collective bargaining rights and increasing worker choice and control, including by requiring large companies to allow workers to elect no less than 40% of board members. And I will work with unions to design the training and apprenticeship programs that can create strong career pipelines for workers to enter this new green economy, helping to expand opportunities — and a continuous supply of skilled workers to power this transformation.

Ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone.

In addition to employing millions of new workers in the clean economy, I am committed to leaving no worker behind as we transition to an economy powered on clean energy. That includes honoring our commitments to fossil fuel workers by holding fossil fuel companies accountable and defending worker pensions, benefits, and securing retirements. I will make sure the opportunities created are available to those who have traditionally been excluded — especially women and communities of color — by imposing new rules on companies that hope to receive federal contracts.

Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure as part of the new clean energy economy will take all of us, including returning citizens — which is why my administration will partner with organizations that make renewable energy and associated job training available to underserved communities and formerly incarcerated individuals. And my plan to empower workers will expand worker safety protections for workers entering the green economy — like our transit workers who are increasingly subject to assault — and I will strengthen anti-discrimination protections for workers from all backgrounds.

Repowering our Energy Sector

In 2018, clean energy industries employed over 3.2 million Americans — more workers than in the petroleum, natural gas and coal industries combined. The clean energy industry is rapidly expanding — the two fastest-growing jobs in the nation are solar panel installer and wind turbine technician. But there is more to do, and the federal government can and should play a role in increasing the speed and scale of this transition. A Warren administration will focus on rebuilding and repowering our energy grid to grow our economy — and my plans will create 6.8 million good paying jobs in the energy sector, all while cutting carbon pollution.

100% Clean Energy Plan

While some states and utilities have been leading the way on cleaning up their electricity sources, far too many are falling behind. My plan calls for the federal government to set a bold standard for achieving 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, including carbon-free baseload solutions, putting us on the path to a 100% emissions-free electricity supply by 2035.

These ambitious targets will require us to ramp up renewable energy generation and deployment dramatically. Cleaning up our energy system will create a diverse range of jobs — from construction worker to electrician to project manager. But these good paying jobs won’t just be in renewable energy. They will also come from making homes, offices, and industries more energy efficient. And through my Green Manufacturing plan, we’ll jumpstart American research and manufacturing in areas like battery storage, which will require a whole new set of skills and laborers. And wherever possible, we’ll invest in modernizing our grid with American-made materials, spurring still more jobs right here at home.

Offshore Wind Jobs

Right now, there is only one offshore wind project operating in this country — Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm. It’s clear that today, we are failing to make use of the clean, powerful energy resource that lies just off our coasts. My Blue New Deal For Our Oceans plan will jumpstart the offshore wind industry. Bringing these offshore wind projects to life will generally require the help of workers from more than 70 different occupations — from machinists to engineers, sailors to ironworkers, electricians to longshoremen. By 2030, offshore wind energy development from Maryland to Maine could support more than 36,000 full time jobs. And even after they’re built, we will need workers to operate and service the turbines. My Blue New Deal also calls for electrifying and shoring up our ports, creating additional jobs throughout our coastal communities.

Restarting Our Transportation Sector

America’s transportation and trucking industry accounts for more than 10 million direct jobs, with over 3 million truck drivers alone. But right now, transportation also accounts for the largest portion of U.S. carbon pollution. Moreover, our public transportation infrastructure is crumbling: the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a “D” grade on their most recent infrastructure report card, with one out of every five miles of highway pavement in poor condition.

For too long, our government has failed to invest in critical infrastructure — and unless we take action, poor conditions will continue to plague one of our most important industries. But this, too, is an opportunity: as we rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure, we can build in climate resiliency, and create a transportation system powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. The massive project of investing in our transportation infrastructure will affect every state and county in the nation, creating about 2.6 million jobs in the public and private sector.

Build Green Program

Public transportation is a $71 billion industry that employs more than 430,000 people. And yet, 45% of Americans still do not have access to public transportation, leaving those without access reliant on car ownership to get to work, school and worship. We know that increasing public transportation rates and decreasing vehicle miles traveled is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. That’s why I’m proposing a new Build Green program, which would establish a new grant program to electrify public buses, school buses, rail, cars, and fleet vehicles that is modeled after the Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program. This program will be paid for by closing corporate loopholes, and will open up new funding opportunities for states, cities, counties and tribal governments to expand and electrify public transportation options. A study conducted in the Twin Cities found Black, Asian-American, and Latinx commuters have longer commutes than white commuters. And people with disabilities face particular barriers in using and accessing public transportation. These investments will be crucial to ensuring equitable and accessible transportation for all.

100% Clean Vehicles.

Demand for passenger electric vehicles is growing at home and abroad — but even though more and more people want electric vehicles, they still only account for around 1% of vehicles on the road. To spur auto manufacturing in this space, I have put forward a bold and ambitious goal to require all new light -and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero emission vehicles. We’ll achieve this goal by investing in a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By the end of the first term of a Warren administration, there will be a charging station at every rest stop in America. And this nation-wide network of charging infrastructure will begin to lay the groundwork for electrifying long-haul trucking, too.
But charging station infrastructure is only half the battle. Right now, consumers don’t have enough access to vehicles. In 2011, there were only two mass market electric vehicles available to consumers — and even now, the auto industry offers only fifteen models. While car manufacturers are already trying to meet growing demand, my investment in clean energy technology, including products designed for use in the electric vehicle supply chain, will further increase adoption of electric vehicles by making it easier for auto manufacturers to build the vehicles that consumers want.

We’ve let our failure to take action destroy our transportation infrastructure for too long and a Warren administration will make sure that the Department of Transportation acts with the speed and scale necessary to address the climate challenges ahead of us. I will take executive action to require the Department of Transportation set performance management rules that require federal transportation investments to be accompanied by life-cycle analysis and reduction strategies for climate and other transportation related pollution.

Renewing Our Water Infrastructure

America’s water infrastructure is crumbling. The government’s failure to invest is putting Americans in danger in two ways: first, our leveesdams and inland waterways infrastructure are all at risk — and will only become more stressed by climate change as sea-level rise, extreme flooding, and drought all become more frequent and severe. Second, our drinking water is increasingly at risk: as the infrastructure supporting it crumbles, an estimated 77 million Americans live with tap water that violates federal safe water standards — and this number does not even include the millions more served by very small water systems or private domestic wells. Meanwhile, more and more Americans struggle to afford their water bills as water bill costs have risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. Fixing our water infrastructure is an urgent priority — but we risk not having enough hands on deck, as the water sector’s aging workforce increasingly enters into retirement. Reinvesting in our nation’s water infrastructure isn’t just essential for the health and the safety of our communities, it’s also a chance to grow our workforce. In a Warren administration, we’ll not only protect Americans by rebuilding our nation’s water infrastructure — we’ll also create about 190,000 thousand good, union jobs in the process.

Rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways.

Our nation’s dams, levees, and inland waterways provide necessary infrastructure for shipping and hydroelectric power — but they’ve been so underfunded that they are putting our communities at risk. When the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failed in 2017, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated from rural Northern California. And the failure of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina made Katrina one of the most devastating U.S. hurricane on record, killing 1,800 people, damaging 70% of homes in New Orleans, and resulting in damages of $125 billion. This stops now. A Warren administration will triple the US Army Corps of Engineers’ annual budget so that they have the resources they need to upgrade our water infrastructure and defend our vulnerable communities from harm. We’ll pay for this with savings from my plan to transition the military away from its dependence on fossil fuels and other internal Department of Defense funding shifts. This dramatic expansion will create new opportunities for good, federal jobs as we update critical infrastructure across the nation — an investment that is more important than ever to defend vulnerable front-line communities from more frequent and more severe weather events.

Ensuring safe drinking water for all

Nearly a decade ago the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. But today, the United States is in the middle of a dangerous drinking water crisis. Not only do an estimated 77 million Americans’ have tap water that violated federal standards, but at least 2 million Americans still don’t have access to running water. And because of a long legacy of unfair, racist, and deliberate policy choices, communities of color are disproportionately likely to lack access to safe, affordable drinking water. After decades of declining federal investments in safe water, it’s time to invest in safe, affordable water for our communities. That’s why I have committed to fully capitalizing federal programs that fund drinking water capital infrastructure, such as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. And I will go further by supporting Rep. Joe Kennedy’s Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act, which would extend the horizon for states and localities to repay revolving loans and expand the funding to cover the installation of lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) filtering systems and remediation measures. These important updates to the State Revolving Fund programs will not only guarantee much-needed upgrades to our drinking water infrastructure, but will also spur necessary investments to allow for expanded job opportunities. My administration will continue to invest in brownfield remediation, which is why I have proposed to reinstate and then triple the Superfund Tax to ensure that we protect our communities from the legacy of environmental harm and we put people to work in the process. And I will remain committed to standing with communities across the country that are impacted by lead.

Jobs in the water sector are wide ranging: there are more than 200 different occupations, including in skilled trades, administration, and finance. What’s more, because every community needs quality water, these jobs exist across the nation. I will work to create more inclusive career paths for water workers to meet the needs of our drinking water infrastructure by fighting for increases in the percent of local hires and minority/women-owned contracts that are awarded as part of water-related government contracting. And I will work with Congress to fully fund the EPA’s Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program and the Environmental Health Sciences Environmental Career Worker Training Program, which is helping to improve workforce development for water-related careers. Lastly and in order to confront America’s drinking water crisis head on, I will take executive action to develop a national inter-agency safe and affordable drinking water roadmap. And to inform this effort I will convene a Water Equity Advisory Council with representation from key environmental justice and community-based organizations that are on the frontlines of addressing our safe water crisis.
 
Rebuilding our Homes, Buildings and Schools

In his Second Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the “test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Later that term, FDR signed into law the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act, which put Americans to work building new, modern affordable housing units across the country. But today, whether it’s a leaky window, an old appliance, or mold in a home, it’s hard-working Americans that pay the price through increased utility bills and housing costs.

As I’ve outlined in my 100% Clean Energy Plan, I’ll work with states and local governments to develop and implement new and stronger building codes to reach zero-carbon emissions and building those new standards into federal grant requirements, tax credits, and mortgage products. And I’ll launch an initiative to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, with the goal of upgrading 4% of buildings a year until the job is done. All told, my plans will create over 970,000 thousand new jobs as demand grows across sectors from the manufacturing of American-made energy efficient materials to large and small-scale construction efforts.

Safe and affordable housing

We currently have a government that has paid lip service to the idea of providing all Americans in need with safe and affordable housing. The federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades and has turned a blind eye to the massive maintenance backlog needed to make sure the limited housing we do have is safe to live in. That stops now. My Affordable Housing Plan would invest $500 billion over 10 years to address this crisis and would create 3 million new housing units. As a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, I recognize the right to safe, affordable housing for every American and the need for new, green jobs to realize FDR’s dream. My Green Public Housing program will build on the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, by raising living standards and providing the financial assistance necessary to retrofit these homes. This will require training a new American workforce and would alone create 240,000 new jobs. We can address the climate crisis while we tackle the housing crisis, too.

Providing our children with healthy learning and living environments

As a former public school teacher, I know firsthand how our children’s learning can be affected by their environment. More than half of our public schools need repairs in order to be in “good” condition. Our poor school infrastructure has serious effects on the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers and staff. That’s why in my K-12 plan I’ve committed at least an additional $50 billion to improving our school infrastructure. This will require a workforce across the country to identify the schools most in need and carry out the necessary upgrades to provide our children with the learning environment they deserve. There’s nothing more important to me than investing in our kids because it means we’re investing in our future.

Green infrastructure means inclusive infrastructure. We have to recognize that our building infrastructure crisis is an environmental justice crisis. The disparities in our building infrastructure reflect the racial inequities that exist in America today. Historically, redlining denied entire groups of people—primarily communities of color—the chance to live in neighborhoods of their choice while also making them the victims of environmental racism. Studies have shown that low-income and minority children bear the brunt of poisoning from lead-based paint and failing lead pipes in older housing units. Our system has also failed Americans with disabilities who occupy 41% of our public housing units and yet only 3% of those units are ADA accessible. These same inequities exist in our public schools, too. In New York City, for example, 83% of elementary schools in New York City are not fully accessible to students with disabilities.

This ends in a Warren administration. It’s the job of our government to reverse these injustices, and I will put Americans to work to finish the job. That’s why I will use the full force of the federal government to invest in addressing these disparities — and creating millions of good, union jobs in the process.Together, these plans will curb homelessness in America, put Americans to work in quality jobs, protect the health of American families, and ease the burden on their pocketbooks.

Financing the Green Jobs Plan

Defeating the climate crisis and transitioning our economy to run on 100% clean energy will take big, structural change. That’s why my plans will result in $10.7 trillion in federal funding to fight for a Green New Deal — backed up by detailed plans laying out exactly how we will use those dollars — to address the size of this crisis.

The transition to clean energy is an opportunity to transform our economy, creating new industries, like in zero-emissions building construction, and greatly expanding others, like electric vehicle manufacturing, at a speed and scale not seen since World War II — and creating huge opportunities for state, local and non-federal investment in the process, too. My Administration will create new financing tools to unlock state, local, and private investment and direct it towards meaningful investments that tackle climate change, produce jobs, and reduce inequality. And my administration will put in place strong protections to ensure that this $10.7 trillion commitment flows to the right places, so that our climate investments benefit all Americans — not just the wealthy and well-connected.

A New Green Bank

A Green Bank is among the best ways to ensure a dedicated funding stream for an economy-wide climate transition to reconcile the scale of investment required with the speed of transition necessary to defeat the climate crisis. I’ll work with Congress to establish a bank modeled after and expanded upon the National Climate Bank Act, introduced earlier this year by my friend and colleague Senator Markey. We’ll put in place strong bipartisan oversight and governance to ensure that investments are equitable and benefit working Americans. And ultimately, this new Green Bank will mobilize $1 trillion in climate and green infrastructure investments across the country over 30 years.

The Green Bank will open up new markets for greater investment by working alongside existing federal authorities through direct spending, grants, and loans. It will provide security for investors looking for climate-friendly investments in mid- to large-scale infrastructure projects that serve the public interest but might not otherwise attract private capital due to risk-return thresholds, payback horizons, credit risk or other factors. It will increase the overall scale of clean energy investment and the pace of substitution of clean energy technologies for fossil-fuel based technologies, while also protecting consumers by keeping energy prices low and ensuring compliance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations. And it will expand opportunities for communities and the private sector by directing funds toward communities on the front lines of the climate crisis that have traditionally been left out of investment opportunities.

Green Victory Bonds

Today many states have green bonds programs, using the proceeds to fund land use projects, river and habitat preservation, and energy and water infrastructure. Green bonds have also surged in popularity worldwide, with sales growing 46% last year to about a total of about $460 billion.

While the federal government has never issued a green bond, the World War II-era “Victory Bond” program was a major success, raising $185 billion — over $2 trillion in 2012 dollars — and four out of five American households bought Victory Bonds. I’ll propose a “Green Victory Bond,” backed by the full-faith and credit of the United States by the Treasury Department, to finance the transition to a green economy. These Green Victory Bonds will be sold at levels that allow Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum the opportunity to own a piece of the climate solution, and to benefit from the new green economy that we build together.

Read her plan here

Read independent analysis here

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Announce The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here at a rally in Queens, New York, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings.© 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 Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the plan from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
 
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change. It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
 
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders.”
 
About 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking 1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
 
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing, and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including buildings’ water and electrical systems.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America” requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from this legislation.
 
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.

Read the bill summary here.

Read the legislative text here.

Read a section-by-section overview here.

Read organizational statements of support here.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Elizabeth Warren Details Plan to Confront Crisis of Environmental Injustice

Senator Elizabeth Warren details her plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.” © 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 her plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.” This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her plan to fight for justice as we take on the climate crisis. Warren will implement an equity screen for her proposed climate investments, directing at least $1 trillion into the most vulnerable communities over the next decade and investing not only in cleaning up pollution but in building wealth and lifting up the communities in most need. 

The climate crisis demands all of us to act, but it is also an opportunity to create millions of new good, middle class, union jobs and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. Elizabeth will honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers by fighting for guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries, and to protect the pensions and benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. She’ll partner with unions every step of the way. 

She will hold corporate polluters accountable, working with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm, and imposing steep fines on violators that will be reinvested in impacted communities.

Elizabeth knows we need to elevate environmental justice at the highest levels. She’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including empowering frontline community leaders to speak directly to the White House. 

In 1987, the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice commissioned one of the first studies on hazardous waste in communities of color. A few years later —  28 years ago this month —  delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted 17 principles of environmental justice. But in the years since, the federal government has largely failed to live up to the vision these trailblazing leaders outlined, and to its responsibilities to the communities they represent. 

From predominantly black neighborhoods in Detroit to Navajo communities in the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades — communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called “sacrifice zones.” But it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race. A seminal study found that black families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of air pollution than white families — even when they have the same or more income. A more recent study found that while whites largely cause air pollution, Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to breathe it in. Unsurprisingly, these groups also experience higher rates of childhood asthma. And many more low-income and minority communities are exposed to toxins in their water — including lead and chemicals from industrial and agricultural run-off.

And these studies don’t tell the whole story. As I’ve traveled this country, I’ve heard the human stories as well. In Detroit, I met with community members diagnosed with cancer linked to exposure to toxins after years of living in the shadow of a massive oil refinery. In New Hampshire, I talked with mothers fighting for clean drinking water free of harmful PFAS chemicals for their children. In South Carolina, I’ve heard the stories of the most vulnerable coastal communities who face the greatest threats, from not just sea-level rise, but a century of encroaching industrial polluters. In West Virginia, I saw the consequences of the coal industry’s abandonment of the communities that made their shareholders and their executives wealthy — stolen pensions, poisoned miners, and ruined land and water.

We didn’t get here by accident. Our crisis of environmental injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long. It is the result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change. 

Justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the center of our response to climate change. The Green New Deal commits us to a “just transition” for all communities and all workers. But we won’t create true justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at the EPA. We also need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need strong, resilient communities who are prepared and properly resourced to withstand the impacts of climate change. We need big, bottom-up change — focused on, and led by, members of these communities. 

No Community Left Behind

The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first and worst. In response, local community leaders are leading the fight to hold polluters responsible and combat the effects of the climate crisis.  In Detroit’s 48217 zip code, for example, community members living in the midst of industrial pollution told me how they have banded together to identify refinery leakages and inform their neighbors. In Alabama and Mississippi, I met with residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods who spoke to me about their fight against drinking water pollution caused by inadequate municipal sewage systems. Tribal Nations, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental racism and the effects of climate change, are leading the way in climate resilience and adaptation strategies, and in supporting healthy ecosystems. The federal government must do more to support and uplift the efforts of these and other communities. Here’s how we can do that:

Improve environmental equity mapping. The EPA currently maps communities based on basic environmental and demographic indicators, but more can be done across the federal government to identify at-risk communities. We need a rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with other indicators of socioeconomic health. We’ll use these data to adjust permitting rules under Clean Air and Clean Water Act authorities to better consider the impact of cumulative and overlapping pollution, and we’ll make them publicly available online to help communities measure their own health.

Implement an equity screen for climate investments. Identifying at-risk communities is only the first step. The Green New Deal will involve deploying trillions of dollars to transform the way we source and use energy. In doing so, the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and both New York and California have passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the next decade. 

Strengthen tools to mitigate environmental harms. Signed into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act provides the original authority for many of our existing environmental protections. But even as climate change has made it clear that we must eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has tried to weaken NEPA with the goal of expediting even more fossil fuel infrastructure projects. At the same time, the Trump Administration has moved to devalue the consideration of climate impacts in all federal decisions. This is entirely unacceptable in the face of the climate emergency our world is facing. As president, I would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts in their permitting and rulemaking processes. Climate action needs to be mainstreamed in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that requires the government to do more than merely “assess” the environmental impact of proposed projects — we need to mitigate negative environmental impacts entirely. 

Beyond that, a Warren Administration will do more to give the people who live in a community a greater say in what is sited there — too often today, local desires are discounted or disregarded. And when Tribal Nations are involved, projects should not proceed unless developers have obtained the free, prior and informed consent of the tribal governments concerned. I’ll use the full extent of my executive authority under NEPA to protect these communities and give them a voice in the process. And I’ll fight to improve the law to reflect the realities of today’s climate crisis. 

Build wealth in frontline communities. People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate change risks or where they’re subject to environmental hazards like pollution. That’s not a coincidence — decades of racist housing policy and officially sanctioned segregation that denied people of color the opportunity to build wealth also denied them the opportunity to choose the best neighborhood for their families. Then, these same communities were targeted with the worst of the worst mortgages before the financial crisis, while the government looked the other way. My housing plan includes a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to reverse that damage. It provides assistance to homeowners in these communities who still owe more than their homes were worth, which can be used to preserve their homes and revitalize their communities. These communities should have the opportunity to lead us in the climate fight, and have access to the economic opportunities created by the clean energy sector. With the right investments and with community-led planning, we can lift up communities that have experienced historic repression and racism, putting them on a path to a more resilient future.

Expand health care. People in frontline communities disproportionately suffer from certain cancers and other illnesses associated with environmental pollution. To make matters worse, they are less likely to have access to quality health care. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high quality health care at a lower cost, allowing disadvantaged communities to get lifesaving services. And beyond providing high quality coverage for all, the simplified Medicare for All system will make it easier for the federal government to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental disasters in affected communities when they occur.

Research equity. For years we’ve invested in broad-based strategies that are intended to lift all boats, but too often leave communities of color behind. True justice calls for more than ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions — instead we need targeted strategies that take into account the unique challenges individual frontline communities face. I’ve proposed a historic $400 billion investment in clean energy research and development. We’ll use that funding to research place-based interventions specifically targeting the communities that need more assistance.

No Worker Left Behind

The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of good-paying American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. 

The task before us is huge and demands all of us to act. It will require massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to ensure that communities of color and others who have been systematically harmed from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition to clean energy.

But it is also an opportunity. We’ll need millions of workers: people who know how to build things and manufacture them; skilled and experienced contractors to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects; and training and joint labor management apprenticeships to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. This can be a great moment of national unity, of common purpose, of lives transformed for the better. But we cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills to get the job done are in the room as full partners. 

We also cannot fight climate change with a low-wage economy. Workers should not be forced to make an impossible choice between fossil fuel industry jobs with superior wages and benefits and green economy jobs that pay far less. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren Administration we will do both: creating good new jobs through investments in a clean economy coupled with the strongest possible protections for workers. For instance, my Green Manufacturing plan makes a $1.5 trillion procurement commitment to domestic manufacturing contingent on companies providing fair wages, paid family and medical leave, fair scheduling practices, and collective bargaining rights. Similarly, my 100% Clean Energy Plan will require retrofitting our nation’s buildings, reengineering our electrical grid, and adapting our manufacturing base — creating good, union jobs, with prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining, for millions of skilled and experienced workers. 

Our commitment to a Green New Deal is a commitment to a better future for the working people of our country.  And it starts with a real commitment to workers from the person sitting in the White House: I will fight for your job, your family, and your community like I would my own. But there’s so much more we can do to take care of America’s workers before, during, and after this transition. Here are a few ways we can start: 

Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers. Coal miners, oil rig workers, pipeline builders and millions of other workers have given their life’s blood to build the infrastructure that powered the American economy throughout the 20th century. In return, they deserve more than platitudes — and if we expect them to use their skills to help reengineer America, we owe them a fair day’s pay for the work we need them to do. I’m committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement benefits. 

Defend worker pensions, benefits, and secure retirement. Together, we will ensure that employers and our government honor the promises they made to workers in fossil fuel industries. I’ve fought for years to protect pensions and health benefits for retired coal workers, and I’ll continue fighting to maintain the solvency of multi-employer pension plans. As president, I’ll protect those benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. My plan to empower American workers commits to defending pensions, recognizing the value of defined-benefit pensions, and pushing to pass the Butch-Lewis Act to create a loan program for the most financially distressed pension plans in the country. And my Social Security plan would increase benefits by $200 a month for every beneficiary, lifting nearly 5 million seniors out of poverty and expanding benefits for workers with disabilities and their families. 

Create joint safety-health committees. In 2016, more than 50,000 workers died from occupational-related diseases. And since the beginning of his administration, Trump has rolled back rules and regulations that limit exposure to certain chemicals and requirements around facility safety inspections, further jeopardizing workers and the community around them. When workers have the power to keep themselves safe, they make their communities safer too. A Warren Administration will reinstate the work safety rules and regulations Trump eliminated, and will work to require large companies to create joint safety-health committees with representation from workers and impacted communities. 

Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality.  

And as part of our commitment, we must take care of all workers, including those who were left behind decades ago by the fossil fuel economy. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal is the inspiration for this full scale mobilization of the federal government to defeat the climate crisis, it was not perfect. The truth is that too often, many New Deal agencies and policies were tainted by structural racism. And as deindustrialization led to prolonged disinvestment, communities of color were too often both the first to lose their job base, and the first place policymakers thought of to dump the refuse of the vanished industries. Now there is a real risk that poor communities dependent on carbon fuels will be asked to bear the costs of fighting climate change on their own. We must take care not to replicate the failings and limitations of the original New Deal as we implement a Green New Deal and transition our economy to 100% clean energy. Instead we need to build an economy that works for every American — and leaves no one behind.

Prioritizing Environmental Justice at the Highest Levels

As we work to enact a Green New Deal, our commitment to environmental justice cannot be an afterthought — it must be central to our efforts to fight back against climate change. That means structuring our government agencies to ensure that we’re centering frontline and fenceline communities in implementing a just transition. It means ensuring that the most vulnerable have a voice in decision-making that impacts their communities, and direct access to the White House itself. Here’s how we’ll do that:

Elevate environmental justice at the White House. I’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including making environmental justice a priority. I’ll update the 1994 executive order that directed federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their missions, and revitalize the cabinet-level interagency council on environmental justice. We will raise the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to report directly to the White House, bringing in the voices of frontline community leaders at the highest levels. And I will bring these leaders to the White House for an environmental justice summit within my first 100 days in office, to honor the contributions of frontline activists over decades in this fight and to listen to ideas for how we can make progress.  

Empower the EPA to support frontline communities. The Trump Administration has proposed dramatic cuts to the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices, including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open to provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur. 

Bolster the CDC to play a larger role in environmental justice. The links between industrial pollution and negative public health outcomes are clear. A Warren Administration will fully fund the Center for Disease Control’s environmental health programs, such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, and community health investigations. We will also provide additional grant funding for independent research into environmental health effects.

Diminish the influence of Big Oil. Powerful corporations rig the system to work for themselves, exploiting and influencing the regulatory process and placing industry representatives in positions of decision-making authority within agencies. My plan to end Washington corruption would slam shut the revolving door between industry and government, reducing industry’s ability to influence the regulatory process and ensuring that the rules promulgated by our environmental agencies reflect the needs of communities, not the fossil fuel industry. 

Right to Affordable Energy and Clean Water

Nearly one-third of American households struggle to pay their energy bills, and Native American, Black, and Latinx households are more likely to be energy insecure. Renters are also often disadvantaged by landlords unwilling to invest in safer buildings, weatherization, or cheaper energy. And clean energy adoption is unequal along racial lines, even after accounting for differences in wealth. I have a plan to move the United States to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035 — but energy justice must be an integral part of our transition to clean energy. Here’s what that means:

Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities. In addition, my housing plan includes over $10 billion in competitive grant programs for communities that invest in well-located affordable housing — funding that can be used for modernization and weatherization of homes, infrastructure, and schools. It also targets additional funding to tribal governments, rural communities, and jurisdictions — often majority minority — where homeowners are still struggling with the aftermath of the 2008 housing crash. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor protections and the right to organize. 

Support community power. Consumer-owned energy cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during the New Deal, serve an estimated  42 million people across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets to renewable energy resources, too many are locked into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low- or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service. I’ll work with Congress to extend and expand clean energy bonds to allow community groups and nonprofits without tax revenue to access  clean energy incentives. I’ll also provide dedicated support for the four Power Marketing Administrations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Appalachian Regional Commission to help them build publicly-owned clean energy assets and deploy clean power to help communities transition off fossil fuels. Accelerating the transition to clean energy will both reduce carbon emissions, clean up our air,  and help bring down rural consumers’ utility bills.

Protect local equities. Communities that host large energy projects are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. But too often, large energy companies are offered millions in tax subsidies to locate in a particular area — without any commitment that they will make a corresponding commitment in that community. Community Benefit Agreements can help address power imbalances between project developers and low-income communities by setting labor, environmental, and transparency standards before work begins. I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster. 

It’s simple: access to clean water is a basic human right. Water quality is an issue in both urban and rural communities. In rural areas, for example, runoff into rivers and streams by Big Agriculture has poisoned local drinking water. In urban areas, lack of infrastructure investment has resulted in lead and other poisons seeping into aging community water systems. We need to take action to protect our drinking water. Here’s how we can do that: 

Invest in our nation’s public water systems. America’s water is a public asset and should be owned by and for the public. A Warren Administration will end decades of disinvestment and privatization of our nation’s water system — our government at every level should invest in safe, affordable drinking water for all of us.

Increase and enforce water quality standards. Our government should enforce strict regulations to ensure clean water is available to all Americans. I’ll restore the Obama-era water rule that protected our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. We also need a strong and nationwide safe drinking water standard that covers PFAS and other chemicals. A Warren Administration will fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water systems. I’ll aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water supply, including by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance.

Fund access to clean water. Our clean drinking water challenge goes beyond lead, and beyond Flint and Newark. To respond, a Warren Administration will commit to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. In rural areas, I’ll increase funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program to $15 billion annually, empowering family farmers to help limit the agricultural runoff that harms local wells and water systems. To address lead specifically, we will establish a lead abatement grant program with a focus on schools and daycare centers, and commit to remediating lead in all federal buildings. We’ll provide a Lead Safety Tax Credit for homeowners to invest in remediation. And a Warren Administration will also fully fund IDEA and other support programs that help children with developmental challenges as a result of lead exposure.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable During Climate-Related Disasters

In 2018, the U.S. was home to the world’s three costliest environmental catastrophes. And while any community can be hit by a hurricane, flood, extreme weather, or fire, the impact of these kinds of disasters are particularly devastating for low-income communitiespeople with disabilities, and people of color. Take Puerto Rico for example. When Hurricane Maria hit the island, decades of racism and neglect were multiplied by the government’s failure to prepare and Trump’s racist post-disaster response — resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Puerto Ricans and long-term harm to many more. Even as we fight climate change, we must also prepare for its impacts — building resiliency not just in some communities, but everywhere. Here’s how we can start to do that:

Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall. But true to form, the Trump Administration has proposed to steep cuts to  FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, abandoning communities just as the risk of climate-related disasters is on the rise. As president, I’ll invest in programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling this program’s funding. 

Better prepare for flood events. When I visited Pacific Junction, Iowa, I saw scenes of devastation: crops ruined for the season, cars permanently stalled, a water line 7 or 8 feet high in residents’ living rooms. And many residents in Pacific Junction fear that this could happen all over again next year. Local governments rely on FEMA’s flood maps, but some of these maps haven’t been updated in decades. In my first term as president, I will direct FEMA to fully update flood maps with forward-looking data, prioritizing and including frontline communities in this process. We’ll raise standards for new construction, including by reinstating the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. And we’ll make it easier for vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone properties — including by buying back those properties for low-income homeowners at a value that will allow them to relocate, and then tearing down the flood-prone properties, so we can protect everyone.

Mitigate wildfire risk. We must also invest in improved fire mapping and prevention programs. In a Warren Administration, we will dramatically improve fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only fire vulnerability but community demographics. We will prioritize these data to invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities, supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at once. We will also invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy supply. And as president, I will collaborate with Tribal governments on land management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible. 

Prioritize at-risk populations in disaster planning and response. When the most deadly fire in California’s history struck the town of Paradise last November, a majority of the victims were disabled or elderly. People with disabilities face increased difficulties in evacuation assistance and accessing critical medical care. For people who are homeless, disasters exacerbate existing challenges around housing and health. And fear of deportation can deter undocumented people from contacting emergency services for help evacuating or from going to an emergency shelter. As president, I will strengthen rules to require disaster response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. In my immigration plan, I committed to putting in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations, including emergency shelters. We’ll also develop best practices at the federal level to help state and local governments develop plans for at-risk communities — including for extreme heat or cold — and require that evacuation services and shelters are fully accessible to people with disabilities. During emergencies, we will work to ensure that critical information is shared in ways that reflect the diverse needs of people with disabilities and other at-risk communities, including through ASL and Braille and languages spoken in the community. We will establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters, ensure that federal disaster spending is ADA compliant, and support people with disabilities in disaster planning. We will make certain that individuals have ongoing access to health care services if they have to leave their community or if there is a disruption in care.  And we will ensure that a sufficient number of disability specialists are present in state emergency management teams and FEMA’s disaster response corps. 

Ensure a just and equitable recovery. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, disaster scammers and profiteers swarmed, capitalizing on others’ suffering to make a quick buck. And after George W. Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, the doors were opened for contractors to under-pay and subject workers to dangerous working conditions, particularly low-income and immigrant workers. As president, I’ll put strong protections in place to ensure that federal tax dollars go toward community recovery, not to line the pockets of contractors. And we must maintain high standards for workers even when disaster strikes. 

Studies show that the white and wealthy receive more federal disaster aid, even though they are most able to financially withstand a disaster. This is particularly true when it comes to housing — FEMA’s programs are designed to protect homeowners, even as homeownership has slipped out of reach for an increasing number of Americans. As president, I will reform post-disaster housing assistance to better protect renters, including a commitment to a minimum of one-to-one replacement for any damaged federally-subsidized affordable housing, to better protect low-income families. I will work with Congress to amend the Stafford Act to make grant funding more flexible to allow families and communities to rebuild in more resilient ways. And we will establish a competitive grant program, based on the post-Sandy Rebuild by Design pilot, to offer states and local governments the opportunity to compete for additional funding for creative resilience projects.

Under a Warren Administration, we will monitor post-disaster recovery to help states and local governments better understand the long-term consequences and effectiveness of differing recovery strategies, including how to address climate gentrification, to ensure equitable recovery for all communities. We’ll center a right to return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and prioritize the voices of frontline communities in the planning of their return or relocation. And while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, we must improve living standards and keep communities together whenever possible.

Holding Polluters Accountable

In Manchester, Texas, Hurricane Harvey’s damage wasn’t apparent until after the storm had passed — when a thick, chemical smell started wafting through the majority Latinx community, which is surrounded by nearly 30 refineries and chemical plants. A tanker failure had released 1,188 pounds of benzene into the air, one of at least one hundred area leaks that happened in Harvey’s aftermath. But because regulators had turned off air quality and toxic monitoring in anticipation of the storm, the leaks went unnoticed and the community uninformed. 

This should have never been allowed to happen. But Manchester is also subject to 484,000 pounds of toxic chemical leaks on an average year. That’s not just a tragedy — it’s an outrage. We must hold polluters accountable for their role in ongoing, systemic damage in frontline communities. As president, I will use all my authorities to hold companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. Here’s how we can do that: 

Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their companies hurt people through criminal negligence.

Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, companies are often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and hold corporate polluters accountable.

Reinstitute the Superfund Waste Tax. There are over 1300 remaining Superfund sites across the country, many located in or adjacent to frontline communities. So-called “orphan” toxic waste clean-ups were originally funded by a series of excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries. But thanks to Big Oil and other industry lobbyists, when that tax authority expired in 1995 it was not renewed. Polluters must pay for the consequences of their actions — not leave them for the communities to clean up. I’ll work with Congress to reinstate and then triple the Superfund tax, generating needed revenue to clean up the mess.

Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in stopping the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Chubb became the first U.S. insurer to commit to stop insuring coal projects, a welcome development. Unfortunately, many banks and insurers seem to be moving in the opposite direction. In fact, since the Paris Agreement was signed, U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America have actually increased their fossil fuel investments. And there is evidence that big banks are replicating a tactic they first employed prior to the 2008 crash — shielding themselves from climate losses by selling the mortgages most at risk from climate impacts to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to shift the burden off their books and onto taxpayers at a discount. 

To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that burden to the rest of us.