Energy & Environment

Bennet latest 2020 candidate to unveil climate plan

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Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) on Monday in Iowa unveiled a climate plan, joining the ranks of other Democrats rolling out proposals for fighting climate change.

Bennet’s proposal would require 100 percent net-zero emissions by 2050 — a target that has proved controversial for other candidates — commit to preserving 30 percent of America’s lands and oceans and create a climate bank that would dole out $10 billion in investments in green infrastructure both in the U.S. and abroad.

{mosads}Bennet would also require all power providers to offer customers the choice of powering their homes with emission-free energy.

“I’m frustrated we keep losing to climate denial in this country,” Bennet said in a call with reporters. “We’re going to have to figure out how to engage the entire country in this work and entire economy in this work.”  

If Bennet were to win the White House, his proposal says that on his first day in office he would sign an executive order to rejoin the Paris climate accord and create an American Climate Council, which would help develop a climate plan over the next 99 days. That group would lay out the specifics for deciding how the U.S. would reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Bennet’s goal would be to implement that plan in nine months through Congress, though he says “if a corruption of inaction continues to prevent it,” he would use the Clean Air Act and other presidential powers to push portions of his climate plan.

He wants to convene world leaders within his first 100 days to set more ambitious targets for fighting climate change by 2030.

Calling President Trump a “climate denier who never should have been president in the first place,” Bennet said his plan was designed to quickly take action on some fronts while others would endure during future administrations. He acknowledged, however, that without congressional action future presidents could undo his work.

“We’ve got to do both. We’ve got to be urgent, and we’ve got to make progress over time,” he said.

Bennet said job growth in the green energy sector could be used to battle a president that won by talking about jobs, and his plans set a goal of creating 10 million jobs in that sector within 10 years.

Bennet’s plan follows those of competitors Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Former Vice President Joe Biden has announced plans to roll out a climate plan, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (Mass.) public lands policy package included proposals that centered on climate.

Bennet may come under fire for the timelines proposed in his plan. Though Bennet lays out a number of steps to be taken within the first 100 days of his presidency up through 9 months, many Democrats have argued that the U.S. must get to net-zero emissions by 2030 rather than 2050.

O’Rourke’s proposal — which also included a 2050 timeline — was criticized by the Sunrise Movement, a major group backing the Green New Deal, as not aggressive enough.

“His plan is out of line with the timeline it lays out and the scale of action that scientists say is necessary to take here in the United States to give our generation a livable future,” the group said in April.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also said that the timeline was not urgent enough.

“Personally, I think we need to have more aggressive timelines than that to be honest,” she told The Hill.

Bennet said the 2050 timeline is supported by science even if it may not be fast enough for some politicians.

His plan also includes a 2030 Climate Challenge within his first six months in office to push states to compete for federal infrastructure funding by reducing emissions and climate risks — something Bennet hopes will put the U.S. on track to beat the 2050 goal.

Tags 2020 Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Climate change Democratic primary Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Jay Inslee Joe Biden Michael Bennet Michael Bennet

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