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Bernie Sanders’ Sweeping Plan To Address Climate Change Will Cost $16 Trillion

Sanders calls for a ban on fracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, and imports and exports of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Posted on August 22, 2019, at 7:01 a.m. ET

Alexander Drago / Reuters

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event in West Branch, Iowa, on Aug. 19.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released his highly anticipated plan for how he would tackle the climate crisis as president, proposing a $16.3 trillion investment on his version of the Green New Deal.

“The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately,” the Sanders proposal says.

While Sanders is a vocal supporter in Congress on climate action — including cosponsoring the Green New Deal resolution to broadly tackle the climate crisis — he has lagged behind other 2020 Democratic nominees in converting those ideas into a campaign plan, drawing criticism from environmental groups like Greenpeace.

For example, his Senate colleagues Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — presidential contenders who also support the Green New Deal — have both already released at least one climate proposal while running for president.

In the sweeping trillion-dollar plan, Sanders calls for reaching 100% renewable energy for the electricity and transportation sectors by 2030 at the latest and complete decarbonization of the US economy by no later than 2050. His specific plans to do this include expanding infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, offering incentives to encourage people to swap their fossil fuel–run cars for electric ones, and building out high-speed rail.

He also calls for creating 20 million new jobs to both tackle the crisis and end unemployment, as well as establishing a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund to specifically help communities of color prepare for climate impacts.

In the plan, Sanders calls for declaring climate change a national emergency. Back in June, he proposed a congressional resolution to do just that, but it will likely go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Following in the footsteps of now-former presidential contender Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Sanders calls for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. (Inslee dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday night.)

Moreover, Sanders pitches to ban mountaintop coal mining; require fossil fuel companies to address their leaky infrastructure, which is releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere; and banning the import and export of fossil fuels.

This policy rollout comes the same week the Democratic National Committee is expected to vote on whether to allow a climate debate, an idea that Sanders has endorsed. And in a few weeks, Sanders will join eight other high-polling candidates at a CNN town hall devoted to the topic.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.