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Beto O'Rourke Introduces Bold $5 Trillion Climate Plan
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50678"><span class="small">Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune</span></a>   
Monday, 29 April 2019 13:04

Svitek writes: "In the first major policy rollout of his presidential campaign, O'Rourke focuses on one of the most dominant issues in his party."

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks to the crowd at his 'Turn Out for Texas' rally, featuring a concert by Wille Nelson, in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 29, 2018. (photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks to the crowd at his 'Turn Out for Texas' rally, featuring a concert by Wille Nelson, in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 29, 2018. (photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)

Beto O'Rourke Introduces Bold $5 Trillion Climate Plan

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

29 April 19

In the first major policy rollout of his presidential campaign, O'Rourke focuses on one of the most dominant issues in his party.

emocratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday unveiled an ambitious plan to combat climate change that spurs $5 trillion for the cause and aims to achieve net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050.

In making the first major policy announcement of his campaign, O'Rourke is seeking to get specific on an issue that has dominated the Democratic primary and increasingly animated the party more broadly — including in Congress, where U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made waves with her crusade for a Green New Deal. That plan calls for net-zero global emissions over the next three decades.

"The greatest threat we face — which will test our country, our democracy, every single one of us — is climate change," O'Rourke said in a statement. "We have one last chance to unleash the ingenuity and political will of hundreds of millions of Americans to meet this moment before it's too late."

O’Rourke’s proposal has four main components. On his first day in office, he would take executive action to reduce pollution by doing things such as recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump withdrew the country from in 2017. He would also move unilaterally to strengthen waste limits for power plants and fuel economy standards.

Then, O'Rourke's first demand of Congress would be to “mobilize” $5 trillion over 10 years to update infrastructure and speed up innovation to take on climate change. In his first 100 days, O’Rourke would work with Congress to devise a “legally enforceable standard” to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 and halfway there by 2030. And finally, O’Rourke would boost resources to help communities already facing extreme weather, including pushing a 10-fold increase in spending on pre-disaster mitigation grants and broadening the federal crop insurance program to cover more threats.

The plan also puts an emphasis on protecting federal lands, setting a more ambitious zero-emissions target on them — 2030 — while banning new fossil fuel leases on them. One of O'Rourke's rivals, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, proposed a moratorium on new leases earlier this month, and after saying last week that he was willing to consider such a ban, he threw his support behind it at a rally Sunday in San Francisco where he offered a preview of his forthcoming plan.

“Every single purchasing decision, leasing decision, that the federal government makes, should include the cost of pollution and the cost to our climate," O'Rourke said. "No more leases on federal lands for oil and gas drilling, and let’s make sure those leases that are enforced right now are changed to reflect the true cost in the royalties that are paid."

O'Rourke's plan would not be cheap, and it calls for leveraging the $5 trillion mobilization by a "fully paid-for $1.5 trillion investment." O'Rourke proposes paying for that through "revenues generated by structural changes to the tax code that ensure corporations and the wealthiest among us pay their fair share." O'Rourke would also free up money by ending tax breaks to fossil fuel companies.

The plan marks the first policy rollout of O'Rourke's month-and-a-half-old campaign aside from an earlier proposal to have cabinet secretaries hold monthly town halls. And it comes as O'Rourke, once the most buzzed-about candidate, finds himself settling into a more normal campaign rhythm while other candidates take their turns in the spotlight he once occupied.

O'Rourke is pitching the climate policy amid his first visit to California as a candidate, a four-day trip that began Saturday. On Monday, he was set to tour the state's Central Valley, a major agriculture region that suffers from severe air pollution. He was beginning the day in Yosemite National Park.

O'Rourke has long talked about climate change as one of the most urgent threats facing the country, but as he has become a national figure, some on the left have questioned his commitment to the cause. He recently expressed regret for some of his votes in Congress on the issue, specifically reversing his support in 2016 for legislation that left the door open to using federal money to study oil and gas exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, where offshore drilling is mostly off limits.

O'Rourke has nonetheless won praise for prioritizing climate in his White House bid, including from a California Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, who sits on the House's new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Huffman, O'Rourke’s former roommate in Washington, D.C., introduced him at the San Francisco rally and later revealed that he advised O'Rourke on his climate policy.

Early reviews of O'Rourke's plan were mixed. The League of Conservation Voters hailed it as the "kind of leadership we need from our next president" and called on other candidates to put forward similarly ambitious ideas.

But the Sunrise Movement, a newer group of young climate activists, said O'Rourke's policy does not go far enough. The group believes the country should reach net-zero emissions by 2030, not 2050, and said O'Rourke's plan is "out of line" with the Green New Deal, though that proposal does not specify a target for net-zero emissions specifically in the United States.

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+16 # DongiC 2019-04-29 17:02
I still prefer AOC's plan but Beto is moving in the right direction. The Progressives are continuing to rally, there is hope yet for the planet.
+1 # Ahimsa 2019-04-29 19:10
Another of Beto's copycat, piggyback platform policies. I will give him credit for telling us up front how he would pay for it(taxing the rich), so he will not have to overcome that objection when confronted. I am all for a climate policy, and if somehow Beto makes it to the White House and fulfills his promises, that would be great. I just don't trust him as a leader. With all this grandstanding it looks more like he is a follower. But my-oh-my, isn't he handsome!
+2 # PaineRad 2019-04-30 01:26
A bold plan that is nowhere near bold enough. Typical.
+5 # Citizen Mike 2019-04-30 15:09
A Green New Deal needs a Green WPA, a government agency to train and hire workers to implement the construction and management of a new infrastructure that uses clean renewable energy technology. I would not trust private contractors to carry this work out because profit makers cut corners but a nonprofit government agency can be both efficient and cost-effective.
+2 # Citizen Mike 2019-04-30 16:14
Oh, let me add that this would be an excellent way for a moderately socialistic president to establish a government-spon sored and managed business model without any need to nationalize any existing industry.Instea d, create a new industry from scratch. So we can begin to ease capitalism out of its dominant role without having to confiscate anything or prosecute anyone.
+2 # Wise woman 2019-04-30 20:09
I'm not for Beto as president but I do like his insistence that climate change is our number one problem that must be dealt with because it is. If we don't have a survivable planet to live on, all our other problems become moot points. And this I've been saying for the last 40 years at least. I hope that his initiative along with AOC's will propel the other candidates to follow suit. We can no longer ignore this problem hoping it will go away. It WON'T!!!
0 # Citizen Mike 2019-04-30 22:28
Beto is not my first choice and I do not know if his campaign has "legs," the election is still far away. But if he seems to be the one most likely to retire Trump from public life and has some of the positions I support I will support him. I will not hold out for "perfect" if good is offered, and the two most important issues are getting rid of Trump and dealing effectively with global warming.
0 # jimallyn 2019-05-01 01:36
"O’Rourke, who is making the “existential threat” of climate change a major theme of his presidential kickoff tour, signed a pledge against taking any fossil fuel money at the behest of an Austin environmental group during the Senate race, according to a copy obtained by The Texas Tribune. But he was removed from the national list of pledge signers after one of the national environmental groups behind it saw reports that he had accepted almost half a million dollars from individuals, including executives, in the oil and gas industry during the 2018 campaign.

That haul made him the second-largest recipient of oil and gas dough in the nation last year — bested only by his opponent in the race, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics."
0 # jimallyn 2019-05-01 01:39
"O’Rourke voted twice to lift longstanding restrictions on crude oil exports."

"He voted with the Republican party as well to encourage more natural gas exports, and to stop a Democratic bill to ban drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And as recently as October, O’Rourke voiced his support for an all-of-the-abov e energy policy that’s out of step with scientific reality, repeating a fossil fuel industry talking point that indefinitely continued oil and gas production is a way to “help us meet some of the challenges of climate change”."
0 # jimallyn 2019-05-01 01:41
"Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke has been removed from a pledge he signed to reject large donations from fossil fuel PACs and executives, following a recent Sludge investigation of federal campaign finance records.

Sludge reported on Dec. 10 that the congressman had accepted dozens of contributions of over $200 from oil and gas executives and had not reported refunding them. Oil Change USA, which led a coalition of environmental and democracy organizations to create the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, attempted to reach O’Rourke’s campaign and congressional office but did not hear back. Nor did Sludge."