While several candidates have vocalized their support for the Green New Deal, few have offered their vision for implementing such a massive policy. Here are five things to know about Booker’s proposal:
Booker’s plan is rooted in his support for the Green New Deal.
Of the 2020 candidates who serve in the Senate, Booker is one of five senators who are co-sponsors of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution in Congress, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is just a resolution, meaning it signals the intent of Congress to meet the listed goals, but has no force of law behind it. Booker’s plan would change that.
If elected president, Booker would take several steps using executive authority, including a ban on new offshore and onshore drilling leases and the revocation of several of President Donald Trump‘s executive orders, including his approval of several pipelines and his exit from the Paris Climate Accords.
Beyond the Oval Office, Booker would urge his colleagues in the House and Senate to move to complete the rest of his environmental and economic goals, including the creation of a Civilian Conservation Corps and increased funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
He hopes to address climate change while mobilizing a green economy.
Similar to the Green New Deal, Booker’s plan goes beyond just climate policy. While he similarly hopes to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, he also wants to overhaul the U.S. economy in the process. Booker wrote:
“As we address the existential threat of climate change, we must also confront deep and persistent economic inequality: the economy isn’t working for millions of Americans, with income and wealth more concentrated among the ultra-wealthy than at any time since before the Great Depression.”
Booker hopes to reimplement a version of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a popular program from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal that provided jobs to build out American infrastructure.
He also hopes to protect marginalized communities by growing the EPA’s Environmental Justice Office and the External Civil Rights Enforcement Office tenfold and doubling the staff in all EPA enforcement offices throughout the United States to ensure low-income areas are protected from contaminated air and water.
With these public programs and projected growth in green private-sector jobs, Booker believes his plan could create millions of jobs and realign the U.S. economy to be climate-focused.
His plan is expensive, but he argues inaction will cost more.
Booker’s climate plan doesn’t come cheap. In his proposal, he calls for a $3 trillion investment over the next 10 years to ensure the U.S. is carbon-neutral by 2045, at the latest. He claims a significant portion of the funding will come from taxes on chemical and fossil fuel companies, as well as savings from overturning the Trump tax cuts and ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
The senator’s plan is significantly cheaper than the estimated cost of $51 trillion of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, mostly because it doesn’t include Medicare for All as part of the proposal, as the congresswoman does. However, Booker does support Medicare for All as a matter of policy, it just isn’t included in his climate plan.
It is also unclear if Booker’s $3 trillion cost estimations are accurate, as the center-right think tank American Action Forum projects that it would cost between $8.3 and $12.3 trillion to become carbon-neutral in the U.S.
The cost, according to Booker, is not the point, though. He argues that inaction will cost the U.S. far more than the upfront investment into his climate plan.
“The reality is that we can’t afford not to act,” Booker stated in his proposal. “We spend more than $100 billion each year solely on the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, and have spent $450 billion on climate-related disasters in the last three years alone. A recent paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the U.S. economy could shrink by more than 10 percent by 2100 if we don’t act decisively on climate change.”
Booker may use his plan to set himself apart from his 2020 competitors.
Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) was the favorite of most climate activists in the 2020 pool, but he dropped out of the presidential race in August to run for governor. Inslee’s exit leaves room for Booker to step in and capture the support of climate-focused voters.
So far, several climate activist groups have signaled their support for Booker and his climate plan, highlighting the parallels between the Green New Deal and the senator’s proposal.
🔋100% clean energy by 2030
🌎Clean air, soil, and water for all
🌳Natural climate solutions
👩🏽🏭Guaranteed good jobs & a just transition to ensure no one is left behindhttps://t.co/YEVKAlkR67
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) September 3, 2019
There can be no climate action without climate justice. We applaud @CoryBooker for centering the voices of frontline communities in his plans to solve the #climatecrisis, invest in renewable energy, advance environmental justice, and achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. pic.twitter.com/no4wrerWQR
— LCV (@LCVoters) September 3, 2019
The climate group Greenpeace has granted Booker’s proposal the highest grade of the candidates still in the race, giving him an A- which sets him ahead of candidates like Warren, Sanders, and Biden.
He could risk support from moderates with his aggressive plan.
While his plan could help him with climate activists, it could cost him with other voting demographics. As IJR previously reported, the AFL-CIO — the largest workers union in the country — spoke out against Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, warning that it “could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families.”
The Green New Deal would kill the union jobs in the fossil fuel industry and likely deal a blow to other related industries, such as manufacturing.
Booker has tried to mitigate union backlash in his proposal by promising that all new jobs would be union jobs and that union leadership would be consulted as changes moved forward, but it is unclear how much that will calm the nerves of that voting block.
The senator’s plan could be a liability in the general election, too, as many moderates and Republicans find the proposal to be too costly.
A poll conducted by the Green Advocacy Project — a non-profit aimed at passing climate policy in the U.S. — found that more than half of the independent voters strongly opposed the Green New Deal, along with more than 75% of Republicans who felt the same way.