Despite the Trump administration stacking the EPA with climate deniers and slashing environmental regulation, there are still voices of reason crying out regarding the seriousness of climate change. Bernie Sanders and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkeley have become some of the loudest, pushing an ambitious plan for 100% renewable energy by 2050. Something they have dubbed “100 by 50”. Making the Sanders clean energy plan an ambitious foil to Trumps massive deregulation.


The plan sets forth a vision that would drastically reshape America’s energy infrastructure that is made of seven specific policy positions. All designed to work in tandem in order to create a nation 100% fueled by green energy.


Step one “Greening the Grid” will provide subsidies to green energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectricity. Coupled with significant reductions in fossil fuel subsidization this will ensure the majority of American energy comes from entirely renewable sources. On top of that the bill has focused on ensuring these changes trickle into the lives of average Americans in a substantial way.


Step two focuses on shifting current modes of transportation and electrifying our infrastructure away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. Specifically utilizing the investments from step one, step two would ensure America runs on a “green, clean, electrical grid.” Which would ensure American homes, businesses, and public locations are fueled on green energy. Furthermore a “zero emissions standard for vehicles” and carbon taxes for commercial emissions would cut down the climate change impact of most aspects of American life.


Steps three and four would focus on alleviating the real world impact on low income Americans many of the policies created by section two could create.


Step three would “ensure that low-income disadvantaged communities share in the benefits of a transition to 100 by 50’, through grants to make clean energy, energy efficiency, and public transportation affordable and accessible, and to provide job training in the clean energy industry.” These grants would ensure climate change policy was crafted on the local level and that communities, at least in theory, could lobby for the specialized resources needed for specific, local situations.


Step four is meant to create a cushion for those currently working in the fossil fuel industry and would work with the policies proposed in step three to help retrain those workers for a new energy economy.


Step five is a stronger, slightly different, reiteration of the “significant reductions in fossil fuel subsidization” part of step one. Specifically it is meant to stop fossil fuel investments such as the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipelines. This is important because while cutting back on subsidization will go a long way towards crippling new fossil fuel development, it won’t cut it back entirely.
Step six is meant to prevent international trade from offsetting the climate fighting policies set forth in steps one through five. Specifically by weighing a carbon tax or tariff on international “carbon-intensive” goods imported into the United States.


Finally step seven is meant to create a system of 50’ by 100 bonds to be added on to previous funding sources in the bill, in order to “jump start” the program and allow increased funding for programs at the local level.


The entire set of policy proposals is meant to do two large things, invest in green energy and move America away from fossil fuels. Each step is largely just a slightly different way to ensure funding or fossil fuel reduction, each of them are meant to work together to achieve those two goals. While it might seem straightforward to someone worried about climate change, the United States has, as of late, doubled down on fossil fuels. The Sanders-Merkely plan is a refreshing move away from the current status quo that could very well lay the foundation of a much needed transition to a green energy economy.


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