For decades, fossil fuel corporations knowingly destroyed our planet for short-term profits. The fossil fuel industry has known since as early as the 1970s that their products were contributing to climate change and that climate change is real, dangerous, and preventable. Yet, they kept going. Instead of working to find solutions to the coming crisis, the fossil fuel industry poured billions into funding climate denialism, hiring lobbyists to fight even the slightest government regulation and oversight, and contributing to politicians who would put the interests of fossil fuel executives over the safety and security of the planet. Fossil fuel corporations have fought to escape liability for the pollution and destruction caused by their greed. They have evaded taxes, desecrated tribal lands, exploited workers and poisoned communities. Bernie believes this is criminal activity, and, when he is President, he will hold the fossil fuel industry accountable.
Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy cannot be done without standing up to fossil fuel corporations. Bernie will make fossil fuel corporations pay for the irreparable damage they have done to our communities and our planet, and he will ensure that all fossil fuel workers affected by the transition are entitled to new jobs, health care, pensions, and wage support. He will not allow fossil fuel executives to reap massive profits while endangering the future of humanity. He will not leave it to the market to determine the fate of the planet. The science is clear on what is necessary. As president, Bernie will take immediate action to end the fossil fuel industry’s greed once and for all.
As president, Bernie will:
Make the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution by: a) Massively raising taxes on corporate polluters’ and investors’ fossil fuel income and wealth. b) Raising penalties on pollution from fossil fuel energy generation. c) The EPA has historically under-enforced the existing penalties for polluting under the Clean Air Act. As president, Bernie will raise and aggressively enforce those penalties. Requiring remaining fossil fuel infrastructure owners to buy federal fossil fuel risk bonds to pay for disaster impacts at the local level. Federal risk bonds can then be paid to counties and municipalities when there are fossil fuel spills, explosions, or accidents.
Prosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused. When it was revealed in 2015 that the fossil fuel industry knew their actions were contributing to climate change decades ago, Bernie sent a letter to then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to open a federal investigation to find out whether the industry violated the law. President Bernie Sanders will ensure that his Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigate these companies and bring suits — both criminal and civil — for any wrongdoing, just as the federal government did with the tobacco industry in the 1980s. These corporations and their executives should not get away with hiding the truth from the American people. They should also pay damages for the destruction they have knowingly caused. We will also support state and regional action to determine the projected harm to communities and pave the way for actions that remunerate devastated communities requiring care and repair and the dollars to do it.
Create a National Climate Risk Report. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will jointly develop an economy-wide survey of climate risks. To create this report, the SEC will require corporations to audit and report their climate risks. The EPA will use the information to target the worst climate risks through economy-wide regulations to limit carbon pollution emissions under the Clean Air Act to achieve our carbon pollution reduction goals.
Implement sanctions for corporations that violate our domestic climate goals. Polluters should not be allowed to run around our climate laws. Bernie will require the EPA and the Treasury Department to monitor investments and actions made around the globe to ensure our national carbon pollution emissions reduction goals are met. Bernie will impose sanctions on corporations and entities that threaten national and global emissions reduction goals.
End fossil fuel subsidies. The federal government hands out almost $15 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. The American people will no longer be on the hook for this wasteful and dangerous spending when we are in the White House.
Keep fossil fuels on public lands in the ground. Scientists have been clear that in order to solve the climate crisis, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We will immediately end all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands.
Ban offshore drilling. If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combating climate change, and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, it is that Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling and ban drilling in the Arctic Circle and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
End all new federal fossil fuel infrastructure permits. We will ensure fossil fuels stay in the ground by stopping the permitting and building of new fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and refining infrastructure. Additionally, Bernie will repeal Trump’s Executive Orders (Orders 13867 and 13868) which fast-tracked construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and revoke all federal permits for those projects. He will also deny all Section 401 permits for fossil fuel infrastructure.
Require fossil fuel corporations repair leaking infrastructure, including natural gas and oil pipelines and drilling sites. Methane from fracked natural gas is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane leaked by the oil and gas industry each year is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon pollution emitted each year by the US coal industry. The Trump administration repealed important regulations that were based on Colorado’s regulation of leaking fracked natural gas pipeline and wellhead leaks. Those regulations must be reestablished and strengthened to ensure there are no more oil and fracked natural gas leaks.
Clean up old and abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure. There are thousands of abandoned fossil fuel sites all over the country. As we move forward with this plan, there will likely be thousands more. We will put people to work in those communities cleaning up plants, pipelines, well heads, and refineries with good-paying, union jobs while ensuring the highest workplace safety standards, and repurposing these facilities for community needs.
Ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining. Fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining are two particularly harmful methods used to extract fossil fuels. They make surrounding communities less healthy and less safe. They must be immediately banned.
Ban imports and exports of fossil fuels. Congress’ decision in 2015 to lift the ban on exporting fossil fuels was a mistake. We must no longer export any fossil fuels. Our coal and natural gas are contributing to increased emissions abroad. We will also end the importation of fossil fuels to end incentives for extraction around the world. We can meet our energy needs and ensure energy security and independence without these imports.
Divest federal pensions from fossil fuels. Federal employees’ pensions are currently invested in fossil fuels. That puts their pensions at risk. The federal government must protect and grow those pension funds by instead investing in the clean energy economy.
Pressure financial institutions, universities, insurance corporations, and large institutional investors still invested in or insuring fossil fuels to transition those investments to clean energy bonds through executive action. When we are in the White House, we will establish new financial rules through the SEC and other regulatory agencies to pressure hedge funds, the insurance industry, and other large investors currently invested in fossil fuels to divest or pay for clean energy investments through clean energy bonds. We have seen a movement of activists force divestment from fossil fuel corporations, and we will support these movements in the White House.
Place a fee on imported Carbon Pollution-Intensive Goods. We will make sure that goods sold into the U.S. are not able to undercut domestic manufacturing by placing a fee on the carbon intensity of those products, under the World Trade Organization General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Article 20. This will not only prevent U.S. manufacturers from being incentivized to leave the United States, it will also provide extra revenue to boost clean domestic manufacturing.
Accurately estimate the climate impacts or benefits of all legislation proposed in Congress. In order to ensure our lawmakers keep us on the right path, we will require the Congressional Budget Office to coordinate with the EPA to provide a “climate score” for legislation, similar to the budget score legislation currently receives.
Focus the federal government’s resources on transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy. In order to make the carbon pollution reductions required by the IPCC report, we must eliminate all new fossil fuel production in the United States immediately. This will require reorganizing the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Energy Information Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Federal Emergency Management Agency to prepare for the clean energy economy and climate impacts to eliminate or transition resources and offices historically used to facilitate fossil fuel extraction, transportation, refining, and use. Instead, these agencies will lead a centralized taskforce to phase out fossil fuels by expediting research, development, deployment, and technical support for polluting industries to ensure a smooth transition for the workers and communities who have historically relied on fossil fuel production. This taskforce will be responsible not only for phasing out fossil fuel production on public lands and waters, but will support the end of fossil fuel production on private property as well.