Bernie Sanders' 'Ambitious' Green New Deal Wins Praise From Environmental Advocates

Photo Credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP/Shutterstock
August 22, 2019

On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders revealed his $16.3 trillion plan to combat climate change. He's calling his new proposal the Green New Deal, borrowing the title of the legislation that's been championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Sanders' proposal comes a day after Gov. Jay Inslee — who had centered his presidential campaign on the climate crisis — announced that he would be dropping out of the race.

Sanders' plan calls for moving the transportation and electricity sectors to renewable energy sources by 2030, and complete decarbonization by 2050, "at the latest." He claims the proposal will create 20 million jobs.

"This plan will pay for itself over 15 years," the new section of his campaign website reads. Its propositions cover vast swaths of the American economy, outlining initiatives such as a vehicle trade-in program to encourage the adoption of electric cars, a grant program to "weatherize" American homes, and assistance packages to promote publicly-owned broadband infrastructure.

"It is now the most expensive plan out of all the ones that the contenders have put out," Vox staff writer Umair Irfan told Cheddar. "$16.3 trillion is the highest dollar amount so far out of any of the candidates. What's kind of unique about that is that Bernie is counting this exclusively from government spending."

"He's naming the fossil fuel industry as the adversary. He says that he wants to start litigation and even criminal prosecution of fossil fuel companies," Irfan added. "From more neutral observers, people are a little bit skeptical about the pace that he wants for this transition. And also, the top line dollar amount — $16.3 trillion — that sounds like a tall order and it seems unlikely that you would be able to get that through a Congress, which may be divided."

However, the plan was heralded by environmental groups fighting to prevent climate change.

Greenpeace USA has raised Sanders' climate plan score from a B+ to an A-, tying with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Only Governor Inslee scored better, with a solid A, before he dropped out.

"If fossil fuel executives and lobbyists reading Sanders' plan are scared, they should be. They've spent millions of dollars to convince the American people that we can't thrive without oil, gas, and coal, when the exact opposite is true. It's time we have a president who calls out their dangerous lies, not one who repeats them," said Jack Shapiro, a senior climate campaigner with Greenpeace.

The plan also won support from the Sunrise Movement, the organization that heralded Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's version of the Green New Deal.

"The Bernie Sanders Green New Deal is not only ambitious in its goals, but it also harkens back to the vision of how the original New Deal was won — through a federal government-led mobilization of all sectors of society," the organization said in a statement.

Representatives for Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.