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#EcoTuesday: What Is The Green New Deal?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on a stage speaking about the Green New Deal, flanked by signage

You may have heard of the “Green New Deal” from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and others. But did you know that there are many Green New Deals out there, with different plans? We’re gonna dive into AOC’s and Bernie Sanders’ separate plans, since they are at the front of US politics right now.

Why are there so many plans with the same name?

These plans are named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which restructured the US economy and helped pull it out of The Great Depression. It was a turning point for the US economy, first in terms of scope, and then in terms of results. These plans already mimic the scope of the original New Deal, and they hope to have a similar impact.

What’s the difference between these two plans?

While both plans set out goals to help heal the environment and rebuild the US infrastructure, education, and job market, AOC’s plan is an outline for Congress to follow, while Bernie’s is more focused goals and specifics. We’re going to break down most of the goals of each plan below, but if you want to read them for yourself, check out AOC’s plan here, and read Bernie’s plan here.

What is AOC’s Green New Deal?

AOC’s and Ed Markey’s 14 page resolution is a broad roadmap of goals to accomplish over the next 10 years. You could look at it as an outline, with each item being a prompt for it’s own bill, resolution, or action.

Here are the key points of the plan, along with our comments on what that means.

  • Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.
    The US treats employees pretty rough overall. AOC wants to set a humane standard for workers.
  • Providing all people of the United States with – (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
    This is pretty broad, but the goals are straightforward. Let’s get everyone healthcare and affordable housing.
  • Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States.
    The goal of this is to reduce/eliminate the cost of college, which is out of control right now.
  • Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
    This would be fantastic! It’s a lofty goal, but one we can start building towards now. This would involve getting away from coal, gas, and other polluting methods of energy.
  • Repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States.
    Repairing old roads, pipes, and more leads to more jobs and a healthier environment.
  • Building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity.
    This leads to cheaper power for consumers and less pollution.
  • Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.
    “All existing buildings” is a bit out there and unreachable, but it can start some processes that will help the environment and your bank account.
  • Overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in – (i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail.
    Transportation pollutes, plain and simple. Public transportation can be overhauled to greener methods.
  • Spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible.
    Manufacturing pollutes like crazy, both in our air and water. This is another lofty goal but as younger people take over the positions of power with these companies, hopefully it can become a reality.
  • Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.
    This is a great goal, and one that can hopefully be reached faster than others. Spurring beef alternatives is a big way to do this..

It’s a wonderful roadmap for the goals our government should be aiming for in the next 10 years. Congress should be looking to this if they ever say “what should I be working on next?” Whether or not this resolution ever gets passed, AOC and Markey have let the country know what is important and what they believe is possible. There has been a great amount of backlash due to the lofty nature of these goals, and the fact that the outline calls for them to be done in 10 years. Most of this is close to impossible in that short amount of time, due to technological limitations. However, if these at least get started in the next 10 years, then we will be on our way to better times for everyone.

Ok, so what about Bernie’s Green New Deal? What is different about it?

Bernie’s Green New Deal is also a 10 year plan, and is a major part of his Presidential campaign. The major difference is that most of the goals are more fleshed out and specific as to what will get done, and how. The goal is to use the largest resources in the US, which are money and people, to help curb climate change and its negative effects. The goal of the plan is to pull us out of climate disaster. His plan has more of the “how will this get done” and is a roadmap for his potential Presidency. Sanders has said that AOC will be part of his cabinet, so she can definitely contribute to making sure these things happen.

Here are the key points of Bernie’s Green New Deal:

  • Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050 at latest.
    This will be done by expanding the existing federal Power Marketing Administrations to build new solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources. Think windmill farms, solar farms, and more.
  • Ending unemployment by creating 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis.
    Bernie says these will be good paying union jobs that will be in a variety of fields such as engineering, agriculture, coding, construction, and more. Many different skillsets will be needed, so many types of people will have jobs available to them.
    Bernie says these will be good paying union jobs that will be in a variety of fields such as engineering, agriculture, coding, construction, and more. Many different skillsets will be needed, so many types of people will have jobs available to them.
  • Directly invest an historic $16.3 trillion public investment toward these efforts.
    This will take a lot of money, and Bernie wants to make sure minorities and Indigenous communities are given the opportunity to benefit from this investment.
  • Help fossil fuel workers transition to new industries
    This is a big one. Some industries will effectively be shut down, so Bernie is guaranteeing five years of a worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.
  • Investing in modern homes and transportation.
    New materials and technologies are available to help homes and public transportation use less energy. Added into this section is affordable high speed internet. We’re hoping he can swing that part of it. The US is far behind where we should be in terms of internet speeds, and faster internet means better business!
  • Supporting small family farms by investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture.
    It is hoped that investing in smaller farms will help them break away from larger corporations that can limit their profitability and production.
  • Justice for frontline communities.
    Frontline communities are those that live and work closely with pesticides and other harmful chemicals or materials. Bernie wants to create a $40bn fund to make sure these people are taken care of as they recover and move to healthier job environments.
  • Rejoining the Paris Agreement.
    This was an agreement in the UN, among 196 countries, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change while trying to curb it. Under the current administration, the US backed out of it. Getting back in will generate goodwill and tech sharing with other countries.
  • Investments in Research and Development.
    Looking for new ways to reduce pollution, including alternatives to plastic. New R&D always means jobs.
  • Investing in conservation and public lands.
    Investing in jobs (yay!) that will preserve and hopefully restore public lands and waterways.

So this sounds REALLY expensive! So how where will the money come from? According to Bernie and his team, it will be aid for in 15 years, through the following methods:

  • Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
  • Scaling back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.
  • Collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
  • Reduced need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
  • Making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.

Whew! That’s a lot, and that’s not even all of it! Hopefully that gives a better understanding of what these 2 big plans are, and the differences between them. Whoever wins the Presidency and the majority of Congress, we hope that these two plans can get put into action, even if it’s just part of them. For more on AOC’s Green New Deal, and her stance on other issues, check out her page here, and hear what else she has to say on the #climatecrisis. For Bernie’s plan, see his page here.

Don’t forget to check your registration status and see if your state has a November election in 2019!

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