How Cory Booker would combat climate change
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Tuesday unveiled a $3 trillion plan to tackle climate change and invest heavily in cleaning up polluted sites around the country that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color.
“We are facing a dual crisis of climate change and economic inequality,” Booker said in a statement. “To end the real and growing threat of climate change and to create a more just country for everyone, we must heal these past mistakes and act boldly to create a green and equitable future.”
What would the plan do?
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The plan takes policies that Booker has long-championed and expands them to a national scale, including using direct spending to develop clean energy, energy storage and electric vehicle technologies. And he would create a national electric vehicle charging station network and establish a carbon fee and dividend program that would return money to citizens on a monthly basis. Booker’s plan would shoot to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030 and a carbon neutral economy by 2045.
Other aspects of the plan are explicitly geared at helping poor communities. Booker would send Congress legislation creating the Environmental Justice Fund, which would use a $50 billion annual investment to replace all lead drinking water pipes, clean up polluted sites around the country and ensure proper wastewater disposal for households. Booker also pulls from the nature-based draft climate legislation he unveiled earlier this summer — planting billions of trees, turbo-charging sustainable agriculture practices and reestablishing the Civilian Conservation Corps to help provide young people with jobs.
How much would it cost?
Booker’s campaign says his plan would “directly invest over $3 trillion dollars by 2030.” That price tag includes $1.5 trillion for clean energy, energy storage, and electric vehicle technologies; $100 billion toward boosting existing sustainable agriculture practices; $400 billion to fund Moonshot Hubs in each state for research and development of new technologies; and $300 billion in climate resiliency and disaster relief.
How would it work?
Booker’s campaign says it will implement a host of immediate executive actions, because “he won’t wait for Congress to act.” Those promises include “drastically increasing” EPA enforcement actions; strengthening fuel economy standards that the Trump administration is targeting to roll back; requiring all new passenger vehicles after 2030 be zero emission and barring all new fossil fuel leases on federal land.
Other immediate actions include rescinding the approvals of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; strengthening methane emissions standards and rejoining the international Paris climate accord. The New Jersey senator also notably plans to end the granting of biofuel waivers to aid gasoline refiners that’s provoked anger for President Donald Trump in farm country.
The remaining parts of Booker’s plan — and likely the ones driving the steepest emissions reductions — all will require congressional approval.
Who would it help?
The plan is explicitly pitched toward helping low-income and minority communities already feeling the impacts of climate change and legacy pollution. Booker, who served as mayor of Newark, N.J., before coming to the Senate, says one of the biggest benefits of his proposal will be “bringing economic and environmental justice to those who have for too long been denied both.” He also hopes to help rural communities that are struggling to maintain safe drinking water and wants to boost voluntary sustainable agricultural practices that could curb a third of that sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
What have other candidates proposed?
The most unique components of Booker’s plan are its emphasis on nature-based approaches like tree planting to combat climate change and its detailed environmental justice plank. It’s price tag is far lower than the $16.3 trillion that Sen. Bernie Sanders seeks over a decade, but in line with former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan, which seeks $1.7 trillion over a decade.
Booker’s target for reaching net zero emissions is in line with most of the Democrats’ plans and in its calls to bar new fossil fuel infrastructure while spending aggressively on new energy technologies.
Who opposes it?
The fossil fuel industry, which Booker says has been “allowed to privatize their profits and externalize their costs on to everyone else,” would fiercely oppose his strategy for combating climate change. Republican lawmakers on the Hill oppose direct spending on the scale called for by Booker, though some have voiced some support for new investments in funding breakthrough energy technologies.