Our planet is currently experiencing a world-wide increase in temperatures, rising sea levels, diminishing clean water resources, severe storms, and massive species die-offs. With increasing damage due to burning fossil fuels, fracking, and continuing other environmentally destructive practices on both micro and macro scales. We the People put forward a Platform to address this crisis. Through these actions, we have a greater chance at mitigating and adapting to climate change, putting our country on track to a clean energy future, and protecting the health and environment of all communities regardless of income or race.
Stop bank-rolling fossil fuel companies: The U.S. government (both state and federal) provide over $20 billion per year to coal, oil, and gas companies in the form of subsidies. We cannot afford to continue this misuse of tax dollars towards the same dirty energy sources that are fueling climate change and environmental harm. These same companies should be required to fund clean-up efforts in the aftermath of any and all destructive spills and leaks. Emissions must be strictly monitored and reduced to between 771 lbs./MWh (pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity generated) to 1,305 lbs./MWh. Carbon taxes must be placed on the burning of fossil fuels at a rate of $150 per ton.
End fossil fuel extraction on federal lands by supporting the Keep it in the Ground Act, a bill that would prevent any new leases for the extraction of fossil fuels or offshore drilling. Encourage divestment from fossil fuel companies across schools, businesses, and other establishments, to discourage the extraction of these dirty, non-renewable resources. Create a system that will provide a just transition for fossil fuel workers, such as coal miners, who will be impacted by the essential steps needed end these destructive industries.
In addition, take the following actions and policy stances to address the dangers specifically attributed to each outdated, harmful form of energy:
- Coal: Stop mountain top coal removal, close coal mines and coal-fired power plants, and acknowledge that there is no such thing as “clean coal.”
- Oil: Stop the “bomb trains” that transport volatile crude oil from the Bakken tar sands across our communities.
- Fracking: Establish a national ban on fracking, which is putting almost 8 million people at risk of dangerous man-made earthquakes and contaminating drinking water supplies with toxic chemicals and methane. End fossil fuel extraction on federal lands by supporting the Keep it in the Ground Act, a bill that would prevent any new leases for the extraction of fossil fuels or offshore drilling.
- Nuclear: Nuclear power is a short-term option, as there is no long-term solution for disposing of radioactive waste.
Clean Energy & Transit:
When fueling our daily activities including transportation and industry, we must invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind, and Earth’s heat.
- Solar: Support solar net metering, which offsets the cost of individuals’ investments in solar power, or in some cases even allows them to make money on their electric utility bill. As we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar power, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation careers across the country. Pass the Low Income Solar Act to increase low-income families’ access to solar energy by making it more affordable for people who own their own home to install solar panels and incentivize access to community solar projects.
- Energy Efficiency: Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. Pass the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help rural and low-income families make their homes more energy efficient and lower their energy bills. Pass the Residential Energy Savings Act to provide federal loans to states to perform energy efficiency updates and provide homeowners with valuable energy savings. Upgrade the nation’s electricity grid so less energy is lost in transmission.
- Mass transit: Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. Once we have a state-of-the-art rail system, we will not only be able to move passengers and cargo faster and more efficiently, but we will make significant cuts to carbon emissions that cause climate change, and create millions of permanent jobs for electricians, pipe-fitters, and sheet-metal workers.
- Cleaner vehicles: Expand electric vehicle charging stations, and subsidize electric vehicles to increase their affordability to consumers. Invest in advanced renewable fuels, which must be produced in a way that achieves both our environmental and energy security goals.
Land Use Practices and Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Methane emissions must also be drastically reduced in order to slash greenhouse gas emissions overall. The US livestock industry contributes to nearly 10% of US methane emissions and is the highest source of methane emissions globally. Methane can be reduced and captured by altering manure management strategies at livestock operations or animal feeding practices. Use of tactics such as AgSTAR’s biogas recovery systems reduces methane emissions from livestock waste. In addition to producing biogas, anaerobic digestion systems can also help achieve other environmental and economic benefits. Reducing meat consumption nationwide by educating people on the health and environmental benefits may ease the demand on the livestock industry and also reduce emissions.
In terms of land use, US lawmakers proposed to stop new protections for precious landscapes like the Grand Canyon, and are pushing to eliminate funding for our most successful open space program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Senate recently passed a measure to sell off a bulk of our public lands—from national forests, to wildlife refuges, to wilderness areas—to the highest bidder. Land use practices must be amended to halt the deforestation and overdevelopment of public green spaces and natural/wild lands to protect wildlife and our natural heritage, and to capture carbon through protecting healthy ecosystems. In this way, current protections must be maintained expanded and current efforts to decrease protections must be stopped.
Seek Climate Justice:
While acting on climate, we must also act to bring justice to the communities most adversely affected by it, both domestically and abroad.
- Public Health: Policy-makers should create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities due to climate change; these risks include increased rates of asthma, respiratory illnesses, and more. Low-income and minority communities already overburdened by the presence of industry and related health risks and complications must be excluded from consideration as sites for industry expansion. We must strengthen our oversight of substances in our food, medicine, and all other consumer products. We are currently exposed to many substances which are known carcinogens. Also, products like fabric softeners must not have only individual ingredients tested, but also there must be tests for the combined effects of all the ingredients. Pesticides, all vehicular & smoke-stack emissions all need stricter standards, and the EPA & DEC need the teeth to enforce them. Medical substances, such as dental fillings are not regulated sufficiently.
- Hold climate deniers responsible: Call for the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon Mobil, which not only knew about the dangers of climate change decades ago, but spent millions of dollars to spread doubt and misinformation about the causes of climate change and impacts of burning fossil fuels. This public deception contributed to delayed awareness and action on the issue that is impacting communities in the here and now.
- Take further international action: Acknowledge that climate change is not just an “environmental issue,” but a global security issues as well: with increasing temperatures, drought, and dwindling water supplies, our changing climate threatens vulnerable communities all over the world. Climate-fueled conflict may incite wars and cause countries to shift from fighting over oil to clean water. The United States must lead the world by working with China, Russia, India and the rest of the international community to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable, efficient energy. The United Nations climate talks that took place in Paris last December were an important milestone in the path to solving climate change, but the outcomes of these talks alone will not put our world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think and act beyond Paris by participating in further climate talks.
- Ensure we act here at home: Defend the speedy implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the first step our nation has taken to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This plan would cut national carbon pollution by 32% below 2005 levels by the year 2030, if implemented on time. Right now, it faces opposition from polluter-backed special interests like coal companies and is currently at a standstill in the U.S. Supreme Court. The United States has contributed greatly to climate change, but also has the greatest opportunity and know-how to lead in implementing climate change solutions. We must commit to completing all of these actions by 2040.