Cory Booker Puts Forward Pricey Proposal for ‘Environmental Justice Fund’

At town hall, Democratic senator from New Jersey and candidate for 2020 also addressed why he's now embracing nuclear energy — and what it portends for the future

By Maureen Mackey | September 5, 2019

Just ahead of the town hall on Wednesday night on climate change issues, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) released on Tuesday a $3 trillion plan to fight climate change in this country, calling for the nation to “accelerate the end” of fossil fuels and achieve “100 percent carbon-free electricity” by 2030.

Booker’s plan — much like the Green New Deal, which he co-sponsored — aims to address both climate change and economic inequality.

“We are facing a dual crisis of climate change and economic inequality,” Booker said in his statement released on Tuesday. “Without immediate action, we risk an incredible human toll from disasters, health impacts, rising national security threats, and trillions of dollars in economic losses.”

Booker says he would create a “100 percent carbon-neutral” economy by cutting fossil fuel industry’s tax subsidies; by stopping new fossil fuel leases and fracking; and by fining fossil fuel companies that fail to stop methane leaks.

After the year 2025, Booker would outlaw building new fossil fuel infrastructure. He would ban all fossil fuel exports by 2030, he said, as many outlets reported, including Fox News.

“To end the real and growing threat of climate change and to create a more just country for everyone, we must heal these past mistakes and act boldly to create a green and equitable future,” Booker also said.

Related: Biden, in Climate Town Hall, Says He’ll Rethink a Fundraiser Headed by a Fossil Fuel Industry Executive

The 2020 Democratic candidate for the presidency also described a plan for a so-called U.S. Environmental Justice Fund, which he says would be under the management of a White House adviser if he’s elected.

The fund, he declared, would tackle issues that affect mostly poor communities and communities of color. The issues, he said, include the presence of lead-contaminated drinking water, a lack of modern sewer systems in certain households, the clean-up of “shovel-ready” Superfund sites, and water and air pollution caused by massive animal agriculture feeding sites.

Speaking on Wednesday night at the CNN-hosted town hall on climate change and energy issues, the candidate addressed the issue of nuclear energy and nuclear power — and what he would do to “help mitigate [the] dangers” inherent in that type of energy.

“New nuclear actually portends of exciting things where you have no risk of the kind of meltdowns [that we’ve seen in the past],” said Booker.

“Let’s deal with the facts and the data,” Booker began, in a subtle swipe at President Donald Trump, though he didn’t mention the president by name in this portion of his remarks.

“My plan says that we need to be at a zero-carbon electricity by 2030,” Booker went on. “That’s 10 years from the time that I will win the presidency of the United States of America … And right now, nuclear is more than 50 percent of our non-carbon-causing energy. So people who think that we can get there without nuclear being part of the blend just aren’t looking at the facts.”

“The disasters, from Chernobyl to Japan — Trust me, when you live in a community, as New Jersey does, with nuclear power plants … I’m very aware of these things. And so I decided I [would] double down and read everything I can about nuclear, I’m gonna visit with nuclear scientists, I’m gonna talk to folks. And this is the exciting thing. Next-generation nuclear, where the science is going, is, to me — at first, it sounded like science fiction. We’re talking about historic plants … but new nuclear actually portends of exciting things where you have no risk of the kind of meltdowns [that we’ve seen in the past] … We actually can go to the kind of innovations that make nuclear safer, or safe.”

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This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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