A JOBS AGENDA FOR OUR RENEWABLE ENERGY FUTURE
As a nation, we have made great strides toward becoming energy independent. Now is the time to accelerate that progress. The future of our country and our planet depend on it.
Today, we are in the midst of an extraordinary transition from one energy regime to a new one.
New technologies have put a clean energy, energy independent future within reach – while the threat of climate change, and the urgent need for new middle-class jobs, makes it imperative that we aggressively pursue it. The fact is, there is no either/or choice between our prosperity and our environment – that we can create a future where there are more good-paying jobs, or a future with a healthy environment, but not both.
The reality is the two goals are indivisible. And it is time to make clean energy and climate change a top national priority. That’s because:
- We have a moral obligation to act immediately and aggressively to stop climate change.
- Clean energy represents the biggest business and job creation opportunity we’ve seen in a hundred years.
- Ending fossil fuel use is a public health imperative, and would extend the lives of 200,000 Americans each year.
- Reliance on local, renewable energy sources means a safer, more stable world.
We can’t meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or from drilling off our coasts, or from building pipelines that bring oil from tar sands in Canada.
Meeting the climate challenge requires a commitment to one simple concept: a full transition to clean, renewable energy and an end our reliance on fossil fuels altogether.
I believe, within 35 years, our country can and should be 100% powered by clean energy, supported by millions of new jobs. But we have to accelerate the transition right now.
As President, on Day One, I would use my executive authority to declare the transition to a clean energy future the Number One priority of our federal government. I would:
- Create a new Clean Energy Jobs Corps to partner with communities to retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient, improve local resiliency, create new green spaces, and restore and expand our forests so they can absorb more greenhouse gases.
- Retrofit federal buildings to the highest efficiency standards and require new federal buildings to be net-zero. The federal government owns and manages nearly 900,000 buildings, more than any other entity.
- Require the federal fleet to be subject to low- or zero-emissions purchasing agreements. Our federal fleet of 250,000 vehicles consumes more than $450 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel every year. Fuel costs saved should be reinvested in clean energy deployment and jobs.
- Require all federally funded infrastructure projects to meet climate resiliency standards.
- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to take aggressive action to limit greenhouse gases, expanding rules to other large sources of emissions beyond power plants.
- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for methane leaks from current oil and gas production. Leaks waste $1.8 billion annually, while exacerbating greenhouse gas pollution.
- Direct the EPA and Departments of Defense and Transportation to set strong efficiency standards, including setting strict “MPG” standards for new buildings and requiring energy costs to be transparent to tenants and purchasers. Building retrofits out-perform investments in new gas and oil exploration as a form of job creation or economic stimulus by 3 to 1.
- Reject projects like Keystone XL that exacerbate climate change and extend our reliance on fossil fuels.
- Deny new permits for drilling in Alaska, Antarctica, and off our coasts.
- Increase royalties and emissions fees for fossil fuel companies currently drilling on federal lands and invest the proceeds in jobs and skills training.
- Keep domestically produced oil and gas in the U.S., instead of selling it abroad – unless there is a clear strategic security rationale.
More broadly, I would make clean energy deployment – and employment – a first order priority. I would:
- Set a national, cross-sector Renewable Electricity Standard so our nation is powered by 100% clean energy by 2050.
- Fight for federal legislation for a cap on carbon emissions from all sources, with proceeds from permits returned to lower- and middle-class families and invested in job transition assistance and the Clean Energy Corps.
- Set a national goal of doubling our energy productivity within 15 years. Low energy productivity costs American businesses and households $130 billion a year.
- Support a Clean Energy Financing Authority to support clean energy infrastructure, projects to increase efficiency, and resiliency upgrades in communities nationwide.
- End all subsidies for fossil fuels, while extending production and investment tax credits for renewable energy for the long term. Taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies total $4 billion a year, even as the biggest oil companies reap $90 billion in annual profits.
- Prioritize modernizing our electric grid to evolve to support localized, renewable energy generation, reduce electricity waste, and increase security from sabotage or attack. Power outages are up 285% over the last 30 years, costing businesses as much as $150 billion each year, and renewable energy sources remain unconnected.
- Make robust investments in state and community resiliency.
- Increase our investment in basic clean energy research so the U.S. can reclaim the lead on energy innovation, including advancing development, deployment, transmission, storage for renewable energy, and managing demand more effectively.
- Work with industry to help meet skills and employment needs that the current labor market isn’t sufficiently supplying, like utility workers and cybersecurity experts.