At Climate Town Hall, A Need For Tangible Energy Solutions

In CNN’s “climate crisis” town hall tonight, participating Democratic 2020 candidates would do well to focus on pragmatic, tangible solutions with reasonable timelines and price tags – rather than political sound bites.

In advance of the town hall, nearly all of the candidates have proposed “climate plans” – some with price tags as high as $10 billion (Julian Castro) – that would undoubtedly drive up energy costs in the near term and disproportionately impact low-income populations.

For example, in his climate plan, Senator Cory Booker became the latest candidate to vow to revoke permits for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines – which, as we have noted previously, would in no way reduce demand for crude oil or the amount that is produced. Instead, it would simply make transporting more dangerous and cause greater pollution instead of less.

Additionally, Booker’s plan would:

“…require “fossil fuel producers” to pay a carbon fee on coal, natural gas and oil production and end tax subsidies to those industries, but does not go into greater detail about how it would be paid for. …

The plan also calls for a series of strict reforms that aim to “accelerate the end of the use of fossil fuels,” including ending tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, “barring all new onshore or offshore fossil fuel leases” and banning the creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure after 2025. Booker would also bring back a ban on crude oil exports and “expand the ban to cover all fossil fuel exports by 2030.”

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro promises:

Together, we will direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments over the next decade to create ten million good paying jobs, transition away from fossil fuels, build a 100 percent clean-energy economy, and lead the world in the 21st century.

The climate crisis affects everyone, but those who are already struggling to pay their bills in this economy may miss a payment for homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. When disaster strikes, it can wipe out their financial stability. For those living in poverty, a flood can mean homelessness or housing insecurity. This issue disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income Americans. I look at the climate crisis through the lens of how it affects people.

We agree. When governments and regulators delay the construction of much needed infrastructure – such as pipelines – it has a real effect on people. How? In times of high demand, outdated infrastructure can’t deliver the fuel communities need – leaving consumers to face unnecessarily high energy costs while struggling to stay warm.

Finally, Senator Amy Klobuchar’s climate plan vows to:

Undertake a comprehensive review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration has revoked dozens of guidance documents and rules that protect people’s safety, health and the environment when it comes to our power plants, oil refineries, national parks and wildlife refuges, offshore drilling, pipelines, and oil and gas development. Senator Klobuchar will undertake a thorough review of all the repealed guidance and rules, and work to restore our environmental and safety protections.

Grandiose climate plans play well for aspiring White House contenders as they campaign for the superlative of “who cares most about the environment.” However, it is critical that all candidates carefully consider their proposals and the impact they will have on American families, the environment and the economy. We need pragmatic ideas with realistic timelines that will bring real solutions for our nation.