Green New Deal & Environmental Justice
Tackling the Climate Crisis:
Finding the light at the intersection of our climate, labor, and social justice movements is my life’s work and top priority. Vermont has long been a leader in climate action. This intersectional approach is what it will take to completely transition away from our reliance on corporate fossil fuel companies and build a livable future for us all.
In Vermont, I will work to ensure our transition to 100% clean renewable energy is achieved with as much local production as possible to generate local economic prosperity. This means making massive investments in renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal, energy storage systems, and clean energy jobs. These investments will not be successful without building a strong, resilient grid infrastructure that allows us to partner with neighboring states across New England to ensure we all have the energy needed to power our lives.
Our transition to renewable energy must also include transportation and home heating – two of our biggest contributors to climate change. I first entered the legislature in 2008 without a car, experiencing the need for reliable, safe public transportation personally. Over 15 years later, I still meet with Vermonters, particularly in our rural communities, who can’t get to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment because the bus in their community stops running too early in the day. I’ll work to invest heavily in our public transportation systems so that all Vermonters can get where they need to go. I’ll also work to expand access to electric vehicles through subsidies and charging infrastructure, particularly for renters and working Vermonters.
Vermont must also take part in the transition away from home heating systems powered by fossil fuels. We know that Vermonters across the state already struggle to afford the high costs of heating during the long winter months – and that this burden is not felt equally by all. In the past year, BIPOC Vermonters were seven times more likely to have gone without heat than white Vermonters. I believe in a state where all of us can stay warm during the winter months without worrying about polluting our natural spaces. And I will fight for renewable energy and housing investments so that all Vermonters can heat their homes consistently from renewable energy.
We need a fighter in the Senate who understands the urgency of the climate crisis and will prioritize the transition to a renewable energy future. I will be that fighter for Vermonters.
Supporting Clean Energy Jobs:
We are on the brink of a climate crisis and must urgently move our energy supply away from the extraction of fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. Passing a Green New Deal means creating millions of good-paying union jobs with strong benefits, social supports, and safety standards that prioritize workers.
Government and industry must be doing more to help train more people to enter the skilled trades and keep creating more and more high-paying jobs in construction to help offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry. As we work to decarbonize our economy and evolve to a clean energy future, it’s our responsibility to protect and support the workers who power our nation.
Too many Democrats talk a big game about prioritizing workers, but my track record shows my commitment to ensuring workers always have a seat at the table. When I was first elected to office in 2008, the first amendment I ever introduced focused on creating new green jobs. Over a decade later, this year we began working on the creation of a Vermont Civilian Climate Corps which would formalize the transition to green energy jobs at a statewide level. We can advance this same model nationwide.
A Civilian Climate Corps and green jobs guarantee would do just that: implement workforce development and training to ensure that everyone has access to a green economy and infrastructure jobs. Importantly, the jobs created will be made available first to workers on the frontlines of the climate crisis, veterans, formerly incarcerated people, and people with disabilities, and these jobs will invest in and revitalize communities throughout this country.
I will continue to be a partner for organized labor and working people in Vermont as we work to address the urgent need for climate action and build a livable future for us all.
Environmental Justice for All:
It has been my life’s work to understand the intersection between poverty, pollution, and political power and fight for equitable environmental action. I will continue this fight to ensure that our most marginalized communities have the support that they need to build lives and enjoy all Vermont has to offer.
The demographics and rural isolation in this state can hide environmental injustices in our communities, yet issues of water quality, indoor air quality, energy poverty, transportation access, food insecurity, and associated health risks are still disproportionately affecting low-income and BIPOC populations. We have already begun to see that climate change has a greater impact on low-income and BIPOC communities, where a lack of political power means disproportionately negative effects on health and quality of life. It wasn’t long ago that Vermont was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene causing $733 million in damage statewide. While mobile home residents made up 8% of the population at the time, they were 40% of the victims of flooding — and they are still struggling to recover.
15 years ago, I introduced Vermont’s first environmental justice bill to address the systemic inequities Vermonters were experiencing in their communities. It’s been a long road to passage, and I’ve learned that the key to success is bringing more people to the table – specifically people who most directly feel the brunt of climate failure. From mobile home workers to migrant farmworkers to business owners, we’ve finally built the coalition to overcome the skepticism and corporate pushback that it takes to pass a first-of-its-kind environmental law in Vermont. Passing this legislation puts us on a path toward building an environmental movement that truly centers the voices of those most impacted by our climate crisis.
We must take this same approach across the nation: allocating resources to account for those who are most impacted by the climate crisis. Specifically, I support the Justice40 Initiative to direct at least 40 percent of federal investments to communities on the frontlines of our economic, environmental, and public health crises.
Our communities deserve clean water, clean land, and clean air. That means cleaning up Brownfield and Superfund sites, pollution hotspots, and toxic sites, and reducing emissions from corporate fossil fuel companies. It also means eliminating all federal fossil fuel subsidies including tax breaks, bailouts, and loan guarantees. Finally, it means investing federal funding to decontaminate our drinking water from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), replacing all lead pipes, and repairing our country’s water systems.
Environmental justice also includes focusing on disaster-prone areas to ensure Vermonters have the resources to return to their communities after extreme climate events.