Expanding on his ambitious plan to combat climate change, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Climate Protection and Justice Act today to establish a price on carbon pollution. The legislation would cut total emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies, return billions of dollars to working families and protect the most vulnerable communities.
“What the scientists tell us is that we have a relatively short window of opportunity to bring about the fundamental changes that we need in our global energy system to transform our energy system,” Sanders said on the Senate floor today. “It is absolutely vital that we do what many economists tell us we must and that is put a price on carbon. It is the simplest and most direct way to make the kind of cuts in carbon pollution that we have got to make if we are going to successfully transition away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
Sanders’ legislation would return billions of dollars to working families to ensure that the fossil fuels industry doesn’t pass on unfair rate hikes. Eighty percent of revenue would be transferred from big polluters to the middle class.
The legislation creates a Climate Justice Resiliency Council, which will distribute $20 billion a year in block grants to areas disproportionately affected by climate change. The bill also sets aside $3 billion each year for energy efficiency investments for towns, cities and low-income families. Other aspects of the bill include: protections for the manufacturing sector from unfair international competition; roughly $1 billion in annual investments to reduce costs for the agricultural sector while also reducing pollution; and reforms to dramatically increase energy efficiency and improve resiliency of the electrical grid.
Earlier this week, Sanders introduced the American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 and The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to create millions of jobs and drive over $500 billion in clean energy investments between now and 2030.
“The Sierra Club strongly supports the Climate Protection and Justice Act of 2015, as well as the Clean Energy Investment and Transition Acts,” Liz Perera, Sierra Club Climate policy director, said. “We greatly appreciate Senator Sanders’ legislative leadership in tackling the climate crisis – the greatest challenge of our time – while also advancing new plans for ensuring jobs, justice and support for the communities affected as we transition to clean energy. These important pieces of legislation provide billions toward necessary efforts to ensure environmental and economic justice as we grow the booming clean energy economy even more. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Sanders and his colleagues, with the shared goal of building a cleaner, stronger, healthier and more just economy for all American families and workers.”
"As the world watches leaders negotiate a climate deal in Paris it is clear that the United States needs to promote environmental health, workers’ rights, and justice over the profits of Fossil Fuel Empires. With this new suite of legislation Senator Sanders is recognizing the need to rapidly transition to a new economy. Senator Sanders bills protect workers and communities while helping to build a clean energy economy on the principles of equity and justice." --Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth.
"We applaud Senator Sanders for introducing legislation that puts a serious price on carbon pollution and sets ambitious targets for reducing the United States’ contribution to climate change. We are particularly heartened that the bill recognizes the importance of climate justice and seeks to help those communities already overburdened by conventional pollution. These communities are likely to be among the first and worst hit by the impacts of climate change,” Marty Hayden, vice president for policy & legislation, Earthjustice.
"UCS applauds the introduction of the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act. The bill rightfully recognizes that coal miners and their families have built this nation and helped keep the lights on for more than a last century—and that we have a collective responsibility to ensure that these workers, families, and communities share in the benefits of the emerging clean energy economy. Importantly, the bill recognizes that in addition to protecting workers and families, we must invest in coal communities to create longer term economic development in sustainable industries," Dr. Jeremy Richardson, senior energy analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The Climate Protection and Justice Act provides relief for communities of color across the United States whose health suffers from dangerous emissions,” said Brent Newell, Legal Director of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “Unlike Cap and Trade’s false solutions, this Act will aggressively reduce climate pollution, redirect money back to the public, and support those communities most in need.”
Native Alaskans and Native Americans, along with other communities of color in the United States, suffer the effects of climate change first and worst among all Americans,” said Millie Hawley, President of the IRA Council for the Native Village of Kivalina, located in northwest Alaska. “We deserve equitable treatment and justice, which means resources to adapt to the rapidly changing climate, to live as a people who are identified by our culture and not as a people who once were, and to continue living as we have traditionally in spite of the changes caused by the excessive use of fossil fuel.”
"The Climate Protection and Justice Act (CPJA) is one of the first bills I’ve seen that would put us on offense to fight humanity’s greatest challenge, climate change. Senator Sanders has once again demonstrated the type of dexterity necessary to address this challenge. CPJA adroitly showcases the intersectional issues of racial, environmental and income inequality by reducing climate emissions. These issues must be addressed together to avert the worst impacts of climate catastrophe. If we want to show the world that we’re ready to lead, this is the type of proactive climate bill we need. I commend Senator Sanders for leading on this issue and urge Congress to pass CPJA with haste, because time is running out to act on climate," Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy and organizing director at Environmental Action.
Click here to read a one page summary of the Climate Protection and Justice Act.
Click here to read a section-by-section summary of the Climate Protection and Justice Act.
Click here to read the full text of the Climate Protection and Justice Act.