Bernie Finally Announced His Overly Ambitious Socialized Energy Plan

On Monday, Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his highly aggressive energy plan to forcefully deal with climate change. You can read his published plan here.

“The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real,” said Sanders. “We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.”

 To do all that, Sanders’ plan would outright ban offshore drilling, ban Arctic drilling, block natural gas exports, stop attempts to lift a decades-old ban on crude oil exports, support states trying to ban natural gas fracking, and ban mountaintop removal coal mining. That’s a whole lot of current private sector jobs he’d be killing to bring his plan to fruition.  But it does appear that he intends to create 10 million public-sector(?) clean energy jobs that would replace them.  Many however, may not possess the requisite skills to fill those clean energy jobs, so I hope he’s planning to provide re-skilling education programs as part of his overall plan he’s going to impact the overall economy with a gigantic thud.

The major points of his plans are as follows:

  1. Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House. (That’s nice, what about all the lobbyists who take precedence over actual constituents over in the House and the Senate?)
  2. End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies.  (First, he’s going to need someone in the House and the Senate to propose that, then he’s going to need to get that out of committee and on the floor of each house for a vote, AND, he’s going to need 60 votes in the Senate or it’s going absolutely nowhere, because he cannot do that via executive order or fiat.)
  3. Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. (A plan that recognizes that?  How about some constructive action to correct not just the risks, but the actual health conditions resulting from continual exposure?)
  4. Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. (Would that be his fellow Senators and Representatives from the House … or the corporations that are their financial backers?)
  5. Fight to overturn Citizens United. (Ok? Not sure why that one is in his “Energy/Climate Change” proposal.  Seems like that should be in an “Election Reform” proposal.  At best it’s just going to show us which energy companies are buying whom.)
  6. Embrace a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions. (and decrease our carbon pollution emissions by at least 8o% from 1990s levels by 2050?  Does he fully comprehend how much pass-down costs are going to cripple our economy?  He’s already indicated he has plans to increase even middle class taxes.  Now he wants to dramatically increase the cost of absolutely anything and everything we buy as those costs to comply are passed down and marked up on every single commodity.)
  7. Put a price on carbon. (Well, that’s the only good thing in the plan so far given that we own 9kw worth of solar on the roof.  If he sets up a credit system, maybe there’s something in it for the investment we made.)
  8. Work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. (Would those be private or public sector jobs?  It’s already being intimated that Sanders is proposing the creation of 10 million “federal” jobs.  I can already hear right-wing heads exploding over the idea of a socialized energy workforce and the demise of the for profit energy industry.)
  9. Invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind and Earth’s heat. (I really do believe that truly is something our federal tax dollars should be used for instead of bankrolling BigOil profit margins, but it won’t go over well.  Didn’t Obama try that and get crucified by the GOP?  I can already hear and see in my mind’s eye, one commercial after another ad nauseum, raving about the failed Solyndra Solar development and how the Bernie wants to waste even more of our precious tax dollars on such frivilous endeavors.)
  10. Invest in advanced renewable fuels and keep our energy dollars at home. (I do believe we’re already doing that.  Net imports accounted for 27% of the petroleum consumed in the United States, the lowest annual average since 1985.)
  11. Invest in solar energy and put money back in the pockets of consumers. (Well I’m all for his support for net metering, but clearly he hasn’t been watching with the good Republicans of Nevada and other states around the nation have been doing to charge net-metered accounts higher “minimum cost to serve” bills and introducing schemes to credit net-metered accounts with only one-half a KW for every full KW taken by the utility.  Will he be putting an end to those predatory schemes?)
  12. Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. (I’m sorry, but isn’t it the responsibility of home owners to invest in the maintenance and update of their homes?  I can see maybe making that process more affordable via reduced rate energy improvement loans and assistance programs.  But, we can’t do everything for everybody.)
  13. Build electric vehicle charging stations. (Wait a minute?  The Federal Government is going to do that? We’re going to take that out of the hands of the private sector? Is he also going to require all vehicles that burn fossil fuels to be off the road by some magic date?  That might work fine in urban centers, but it’s 2.5 hours at 75mph for us to be able to get to the nearest significant “urban center” and a single charge just isn’t gonna get us there without a significant stop for a serious re-charge … and then there’s the cost of that new electric car to add into the mix of things to come.)
  14. Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. (Amtrack serves a limited number of cities across our nation, and the small rural town in which I reside does happen to be one of them, but many other small rural towns along its path are not so lucky. It seems to me that while this proposal may help those along the eastern and western seaboards and maybe some of the bigger urban centers across the nation, it will be at the expense of rural Americans for the benefit of big urban centers.)
  15. Convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities in his first 100 days. (Really?  Didn’t we just have one of those and didn’t leaders from around the globe just agree on some serious curtailment goals …. is didn’t the Republican Congress just tell President Obama to go take a flying leap? )
  16. Lead countries in cutting climate change.  (I think before we start telling everybody else what they should be doing, we better get our act together here at home!  When we have leaders in both houses of Congress not just denying climate change, but science altogether and claiming that Noah carried two of each type of Dinosaur and woolly mammoths on the ark along with two of every animal known to mankind today … maybe we need to concentrate on building a consensus at home.)
  17. Plan for peace to avoid international climate-fueled conflict. (What exactly does that mean? Do we all need to start watching “prepper” videos on YouTube and stalking our pantries?)

That definitely sets him apart from Hillary Clinton and assuredly proposes to take on BIG oil, but at what cost?

His staff did go all out to detail how his plan would work, complete with an interactive US map that pops out a target clean energy breakdown for each state. Here’s an animation of the pop-out for Nevada, as an example:

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The 2050 Energy Costs slide claiming folks will save on average $98/person is a bit odd. Really?  Folks are going to have to buy solar, trash their current car and buy a new car (or give up your car altogether to use a bicycle or walk), all to achieve $98/person … in 2050(?).  Maybe I’m missing something here, but that’s a seriously steep selling curve even to the most avid climate change fanatics amongst us. And the “Money in your Pocket” for “Annual energy, health and climate cost savings/person” (again in 2050) section also makes no sense to me whatsoever.  I don’t come close to spending that much per year on energy, health or climate now and I’m reaching those elder years where one expects to start having to pay a bunch on health care issues.

Take some time and see if you can make some sense of where he wants to take our nation, how drastically quick he wants to get there and whether you think his approach is even do-able given our currently ideologically split nation.  If Bernie’s our party’s nominee, we’re all signing on “revolutionary” ideas to remake our nation.

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Updated: Ltr to Rep. Mark Amodei Opposing Passage of HR4923

by Vickie Rock

I am writing you today to urge you to vote NO on HR4923, the FY15 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. This legislation moves us backward on energy and environmental policy by slashing funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency while boosting funding for polluting, mature fossil fuel and nuclear generation technologies. The bill also contains dirty water policy riders that threaten the waters Americans depend on for drinking, swimming, fishing, and flood protection.

But if that isn’t enough, I understand that it also includes anti-environmental policy riders that jeopardize our health and the environment, including those that would prevent action to combat carbon pollution by undermining the president’s Climate Action Plan. I oppose those riders and urge you to take action to remove those riders.

Across the country, clean energy is providing new jobs, decreasing air and water pollution, saving consumers money, and helping to combat dangerous climate change that threatens our future. I’ve personally participated in that effort by installing 9KW of solar generation on my rooftop. Yet HR4923, as proposed by the GOP majority, chooses to ignore those efforts and instead, doubles down on the failed energy policies of the past. If it’s enacted as currently proposed, it would CUT funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and increase funding for fossil fuels that emit dangerous carbon pollution and contribute to global climate change.

HR4923 would increase costs to governments, insurance corporations and citizens from climate change-fueled extreme weather events like prolonged heat waves, more severe droughts, and an extended season of wildfires continue to rise. We should be increasing investment in cleaner technologies, not encouraging more production of dirty fossil fuels.

Then there’s the subject of the two harmful water policy riders. The first would PROHIBIT the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with their draft Clean Water Rule to protect small streams and wetlands that provide flood protection, filter pollution, and contribute to the drinking water for 117 million Americans. The second would PROHIBIT the Army Corps from updating the definition of “fill material,” which would allow mining companies to continue to dump toxic mining waste into mountain streams. Really? THAT is not GOOD policy and I urge support for any amendments that strike these harmful provisions. In addition I urge you to reject any attempts on the floor to add even more amendments that attack our important environmental protections. These policy riders should not be included in a spending bill, and they put the health and safety of Americans and our environment at risk.

PLEASE REJECT HR4923, a harmful spending bill that prioritizes the dirty energies of the past over the clean energies of our future and OPPOSE any anti-environmental amendments, including those that attempt to restrict the EPA’s ability to limit carbon pollution from power plants.


Update: 4/13/2014
If deliberately making the environment worse is your cup of TEA, like Rep. Mark Amodei and his brethren in the House Of Representatives, you’ll be thrilled to know that they just passed the mother of all anti Mother Nature bills. Rep. Mark Amodei voted “FOR” passage; Rep. Joe Heck at least had the good sense to see the folly in HR4923 and that it would harm his Nevada constituents.  Energy efficient light bulbs are out. Low flow toilets are out. Renewable energy programs get cut, while taxpayer subsidies for coal and other fossil fuels get increased. The EPA is forbidden to implement any action designed to fix climate change and even the study of climate change is banned. The Corps of Engineers can’t do anything to protect our streams and waterways.  And, funding for storing nuclear waste storage in Yucca Mountain is in.  There isn’t really any sense to any of this. It is just a collection of middle fingers to the Obama administration and environmentalists. Hopefully, the bill won’t go anywhere in the Senate or be signed into law by the President as it was passed by the House.

Still waiting on any response back from Representative Amodei’s office re: my letter requesting that he vote “NO” on this onerous bill.

Dear Secretary John Kerry

As someone concerned with climate change, I want to thank you for your years of climate leadership as a Senator. As Secretary of State, you have the opportunity to have an even greater impact on combating climate change. One of the main ways you can do that now is by telling President Obama that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest and should be rejected.

Climate action starts at home, and one of the first and clearest actions you could take would be to recognize that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a climate issue. The evidence is clear that Keystone XL could increase production levels of tar sands oil in Alberta, and therefore significantly add to carbon emissions. Moreover, the massive investment would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades, exacerbating carbon pollution just when we have to move quickly and decisively in the other direction.

Beyond the effects on our climate, activities to remove those toxic materials have already had a serious impact on wildlife who call that area home.  Plus, the dangerous pipeline would put the water supply and the bread basket we use to feed millions of Americans at risk. After a year in which many communities across the USA were harmed by spills from existing pipelines, we cannot allow any more of the dirtiest, most toxic tar sands immersed in solvents that NO ONE knows how to clean up, to spill and permanently contaminate our farm lands, our aquifers and our waterways.

President Obama will have the final say on the Presidential Permit for Keystone XL, but your department, as the lead agency, will point the way. Although the State Department’s environmental impact statement underestimated the likelihood that Keystone XL pipeline would fuel climate change, you can set the record straight in your National Interest Determination.

At a minimum, you could say that Keystone XL is not in our national interest. But to be totally blunt, this pipeline would be an absolute disaster not only for our country, but also for our planet! Not only is there is no available “Planet B” within migrating distance, we have no viable means to get there even if there were a likely “Planet B.”

All we ask is that you get your facts right and support our fight against climate change in your decision on Keystone XL. We’re sure that once you have studied the issue carefully, you will see that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a significant climate issue, and must be stopped.


The final comment period is open for 30 days.  Send your own letter to Secretary Kerry asking him to “reject the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Cleaner Air Isn’t Just Good For Our Lungs; It’s Good For Our Economy

Earth Justice
May 9, 2012
Miles Grant, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6855
Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5213

If politicians in Washington know that protecting the air we breathe not only protects people and wildlife, but also helps spur our economy, then why are they trying to gut Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean air standards? On Thursday, May 10, the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund (NWF Action Fund) and Earthjustice are launching a seven-figure TV ad buy that highlights the economic and health benefits associated with a transition to a greener economy, while also raising public awareness and support for EPA’s new clean air standards to limit industrial air pollution from power plants.

Watch the ad:

“Clean air protects health and enhances our economy,” said Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at Earthjustice. “According to a Brookings Institute study, between 2003 and 2010, the clean tech sector outperformed the national economy as a whole, expanding 3.4 percent annually. Letting the EPA enforce the Clean Air Act and limit dangerous air pollution spewing from smokestacks will not only make it easier for Americans to breathe, it will also boost the clean technology sector and help create more jobs.”The ad focuses attention on a recent Department of Labor study showing that transitioning away from dirty sources of energy to clean technology development and innovation in turn creates jobs. In fact, the Labor Department study concludes that the transition to cleaner energy and technology has already created 3.1 million jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2012).

“Whether aimed at toxic air pollutants like mercury or dangerous carbon pollution, there are multiple benefits from job-creating clean air standards,” said Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director at the National Wildlife Federation, the sister organization of NWF Action Fund. “EPA air standards that clean up power plants are good for our economy, the health of our families and communities, addressing climate change and for protecting wildlife and their habitat.”

Congress is currently considering several legislative proposals to prevent the EPA from protecting public health with new clean air standards that would reduce air pollution from toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, soot, smog, carbon and other pollutants. Many of these new standards would save thousands of lives each year.

The ad campaign, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund and Earthjustice will appear in 12 major media markets in three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (including Washington, D.C. cable only). NWF Action Fund ads will appear in Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Toledo, OH; and Pittsburgh, PA. Earthjustice ads will appear in Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Wilkes-Barre, PA; Norfolk, VA; Richmond, VA; and Roanoke, VA. See the ad at: http://earthjustice.org/greener