Booker Unveils $3 Trillion Climate Change Plan Ahead of Debate

PHILADELPHIA (CN) — New Jersey Senator Cory Booker released a $3 trillion plan Tuesday on how the United States should combat global warming, coming in well under the sticker price proposed last month by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

“We are facing a dual crisis of climate change and economic inequality,” Booker said in a statement. “Without immediate action, we risk an incredible human toll from disasters, health impacts, rising national security threats, and trillions of dollars in economic losses.” 

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaks to reporters on Aug. 22 at Vector90, a co-working space in south Los Angeles co-founded by the late rapper and community activist Nipsey Hussle. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is at left. (Photo by MARTIN MACIAS JR./Courthouse News Service)

Making similar warnings, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke both pitched plans in the spring that call for $1.7 trillion and $1.5 trillion, respectively, in federal spending. Senator Elizabeth Warren topped that with a $2 billion plan, but Sanders proposed a $16 trillion plan in a more-than-13,000-word proposal.

Booker says he would create a “100% carbon-neutral” economy by cutting fossil fuel industry’s tax subsidies; ceasing new fossil fuel leases and fracking; and fining fossil fuel companies that fail to stop methane leaks. After 2025, Booker would outlaw building new fossil fuel infrastructure; he would ban all fossil fuel exports by 2030. 

“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,” said Booker, who as a senator has supported climate change legislation like the Green New Deal. 

Booker also described his plan for a U.S. Environmental Justice Fund, to be led by a White House adviser. He said the fund would tackle issues that primarily affect poor communities and communities of color, such as lead-contaminated drinking water, U.S. households lacking modern sewer systems, the clean-up of “shovel-ready” Superfund sites, and water and air pollution caused by massive animal agriculture feeding sites.

An Aug. 6 poll by Quinnipiac showed that Booker ranked sixth in the Democratic race with about 2% of the vote. This plan was released one day before he is set to square off with other presidential hopefuls at CNN’s town hall on the climate crisis. The seven-hour primetime event is set to feature Booker as well as 10 other presidential candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.

Polling has indicated that plans to address climate change should be a priority for 2020 presidential candidates. An Aug. 29 poll by Quinnipiac showed that 56% of voters consider climate change an emergency; among Democratic voters, that number jumps to 84%.

Prior to Booker’s plan being released, he had ranked second on Greenpeace’s 2020 climate scorecard, below Sanders. Tom Steyer and Senator Warren occupied the third and fourth slots.

The scorecard has yet to be updated, but Greenpeace climate campaigner Jack Shapiro said Tuesday that the organization applauds Booker’s commitment to scaling back on fossil fuels and transitioning to a renewable energy economy,

For some, however, Booker’s plan to phase out fossil fuels may be too moderate. 

“If we’re going to limit warming to 1.5 C and protect the most vulnerable communities from the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” Shapiro said in a statement, “science dictates that we need to immediately stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure and instead responsibly phase out existing coal, oil and gas extraction.”

Booker will be interviewed by Don Lemon on his plan to address climate change at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday night on CNN.

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