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Jail time for polluters in Bidens $2T climate plan

Enlarge / Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden today unveiled a $2 trillion policy platform that seeks to address both the climate crisis and the worsening pandemic-driven economic crisis by drastically expanding investments in infrastructure improvements and clean energy.

The proposals in the Biden plan are in line with a policy package released earlier this month by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The House Democrats' plan (a 550-page PDF), at a very high level, calls first for bringing the United States to net-zero emissions by 2050, then for using the back half of the century to get to negative emissions. That ambitious goal would be reached by adopting new regulations and incentives in energy, transportation, housing, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, telecommunications, and infrastructure, among other sectors.

Biden's plans, as outlined on his campaign website, go much less in-depth than the Congressional proposal package but are perhaps even more aggressive.

Invest in everything

Biden calls for a $2 trillion investment across four years—one presidential term—to be spread immediately across the infrastructure, energy, transportation, construction, and agriculture sectors for some fairly large projects.

The infrastructure investment the plan calls for is exactly what you think: repairs and upgrades to roads, bridges, water systems, and electric systems as well as the deployment of universal broadband nationwide. Similarly, the transportation investment covers about what you'd expect from the campaign: electric vehicle charging stations and more US auto manufacturing jobs.

Notably, however, Biden's plan also calls for a drastic increase in funding for public transportation, both in cities that already have it and in cities that do not. "Every American city with 100,000 or more residents," of which there are roughly 300 give or take, should have access to "high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options," which not only includes rail and buses but also safer, expanded infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Biden's plan also calls for a radical expansion of clean energy, and fast (relatively speaking). US electricity should be "carbon pollution free" by 2035, he writes, which would be achieved by investments that spur rapid development in and widespread commercial adoption of "critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear" technologies.

In addition to expanding clean energy, the plan adds, we should clean up better after existing messes we've already made, by creating "250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines." Those clean-up efforts would reduce leakage of toxic products into local air and water supplies and prevent local environmental damage.

Get everyone on board

The Biden plan, like the Congressional plan, also calls for keeping a careful eye on who benefits and who is harmed by US policy, and it does so by focusing on environmental justice. Biden would do that by "creating good, union, middle-class jobs in communities left behind, righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution, and lifting up the best ideas from across our great nation—rural, urban, and tribal," he writes.

The communities that tend to be hardest-hit by environmental pollutants are low-income communities of color. One 2019 study, for example, found Black Americans being exposed to 66 percent more air pollution from vehicles than their white counterparts. Even the Trump administration concluded in 2018 that people of color are more likely to breathe polluted air in the United States than white Americans. Black, Latinx, and low-income communities are also more likely to face Read More – Source