On Monday, Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his highly aggressive energy plan to forcefully deal with climate change. You can read his published plan here.
“The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real,” said Sanders. “We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.”
To do all that, Sanders’ plan would outright ban offshore drilling, ban Arctic drilling, block natural gas exports, stop attempts to lift a decades-old ban on crude oil exports, support states trying to ban natural gas fracking, and ban mountaintop removal coal mining. That’s a whole lot of current private sector jobs he’d be killing to bring his plan to fruition. But it does appear that he intends to create 10 million public-sector(?) clean energy jobs that would replace them. Many however, may not possess the requisite skills to fill those clean energy jobs, so I hope he’s planning to provide re-skilling education programs as part of his overall plan he’s going to impact the overall economy with a gigantic thud.
The major points of his plans are as follows:
- Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House. (That’s nice, what about all the lobbyists who take precedence over actual constituents over in the House and the Senate?)
- End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies. (First, he’s going to need someone in the House and the Senate to propose that, then he’s going to need to get that out of committee and on the floor of each house for a vote, AND, he’s going to need 60 votes in the Senate or it’s going absolutely nowhere, because he cannot do that via executive order or fiat.)
- Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. (A plan that recognizes that? How about some constructive action to correct not just the risks, but the actual health conditions resulting from continual exposure?)
- Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. (Would that be his fellow Senators and Representatives from the House … or the corporations that are their financial backers?)
- Fight to overturn Citizens United. (Ok? Not sure why that one is in his “Energy/Climate Change” proposal. Seems like that should be in an “Election Reform” proposal. At best it’s just going to show us which energy companies are buying whom.)
- Embrace a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions. (and decrease our carbon pollution emissions by at least 8o% from 1990s levels by 2050? Does he fully comprehend how much pass-down costs are going to cripple our economy? He’s already indicated he has plans to increase even middle class taxes. Now he wants to dramatically increase the cost of absolutely anything and everything we buy as those costs to comply are passed down and marked up on every single commodity.)
- Put a price on carbon. (Well, that’s the only good thing in the plan so far given that we own 9kw worth of solar on the roof. If he sets up a credit system, maybe there’s something in it for the investment we made.)
- Work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. (Would those be private or public sector jobs? It’s already being intimated that Sanders is proposing the creation of 10 million “federal” jobs. I can already hear right-wing heads exploding over the idea of a socialized energy workforce and the demise of the for profit energy industry.)
- Invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind and Earth’s heat. (I really do believe that truly is something our federal tax dollars should be used for instead of bankrolling BigOil profit margins, but it won’t go over well. Didn’t Obama try that and get crucified by the GOP? I can already hear and see in my mind’s eye, one commercial after another ad nauseum, raving about the failed Solyndra Solar development and how the Bernie wants to waste even more of our precious tax dollars on such frivilous endeavors.)
- Invest in advanced renewable fuels and keep our energy dollars at home. (I do believe we’re already doing that. Net imports accounted for 27% of the petroleum consumed in the United States, the lowest annual average since 1985.)
- Invest in solar energy and put money back in the pockets of consumers. (Well I’m all for his support for net metering, but clearly he hasn’t been watching with the good Republicans of Nevada and other states around the nation have been doing to charge net-metered accounts higher “minimum cost to serve” bills and introducing schemes to credit net-metered accounts with only one-half a KW for every full KW taken by the utility. Will he be putting an end to those predatory schemes?)
- Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. (I’m sorry, but isn’t it the responsibility of home owners to invest in the maintenance and update of their homes? I can see maybe making that process more affordable via reduced rate energy improvement loans and assistance programs. But, we can’t do everything for everybody.)
- Build electric vehicle charging stations. (Wait a minute? The Federal Government is going to do that? We’re going to take that out of the hands of the private sector? Is he also going to require all vehicles that burn fossil fuels to be off the road by some magic date? That might work fine in urban centers, but it’s 2.5 hours at 75mph for us to be able to get to the nearest significant “urban center” and a single charge just isn’t gonna get us there without a significant stop for a serious re-charge … and then there’s the cost of that new electric car to add into the mix of things to come.)
- Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. (Amtrack serves a limited number of cities across our nation, and the small rural town in which I reside does happen to be one of them, but many other small rural towns along its path are not so lucky. It seems to me that while this proposal may help those along the eastern and western seaboards and maybe some of the bigger urban centers across the nation, it will be at the expense of rural Americans for the benefit of big urban centers.)
- Convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities in his first 100 days. (Really? Didn’t we just have one of those and didn’t leaders from around the globe just agree on some serious curtailment goals …. is didn’t the Republican Congress just tell President Obama to go take a flying leap? )
- Lead countries in cutting climate change. (I think before we start telling everybody else what they should be doing, we better get our act together here at home! When we have leaders in both houses of Congress not just denying climate change, but science altogether and claiming that Noah carried two of each type of Dinosaur and woolly mammoths on the ark along with two of every animal known to mankind today … maybe we need to concentrate on building a consensus at home.)
- Plan for peace to avoid international climate-fueled conflict. (What exactly does that mean? Do we all need to start watching “prepper” videos on YouTube and stalking our pantries?)
That definitely sets him apart from Hillary Clinton and assuredly proposes to take on BIG oil, but at what cost?
His staff did go all out to detail how his plan would work, complete with an interactive US map that pops out a target clean energy breakdown for each state. Here’s an animation of the pop-out for Nevada, as an example:
The 2050 Energy Costs slide claiming folks will save on average $98/person is a bit odd. Really? Folks are going to have to buy solar, trash their current car and buy a new car (or give up your car altogether to use a bicycle or walk), all to achieve $98/person … in 2050(?). Maybe I’m missing something here, but that’s a seriously steep selling curve even to the most avid climate change fanatics amongst us. And the “Money in your Pocket” for “Annual energy, health and climate cost savings/person” (again in 2050) section also makes no sense to me whatsoever. I don’t come close to spending that much per year on energy, health or climate now and I’m reaching those elder years where one expects to start having to pay a bunch on health care issues.
Take some time and see if you can make some sense of where he wants to take our nation, how drastically quick he wants to get there and whether you think his approach is even do-able given our currently ideologically split nation. If Bernie’s our party’s nominee, we’re all signing on “revolutionary” ideas to remake our nation.