A US Climate Platform: Anchoring Climate Policy in Reality (2/3)

By Michael Hoexter

Part I | Part II | Part III

2) Political Demands/Planks of the US Climate Platform (Slogan-Form)

1. Popular Rule Not Big Money Rule
2. Living Wage and Full Employment
3. End Police Abuse, Discriminatory Law Enforcement and Abuse of the 2nd Amendment
4. A Real Economy not a Ponzi Wall Street Economy
5. Electrify Energy Use
6. 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity
7. Prioritize Transportation Options for Health & the Climate
8. Renewable Energy Supergrid
9. Secure Finance for Renewable Energy Generators
10. No Financial Penalty for Utilities to Go Green
11. 1,000,000 Frequent Solar-Electric Buses for the Climate Emergency
12. Safe Streets for Walking/Biking
13. Orderly Stepwise Liquidation of Fossil Fuel Industries/Ban Extreme Fossil Fuels
14. Ultra-High Performance, Comfortable Buildings
15. Revitalize Communities with Land Value Taxation
16. Fossil-free Agriculture
17. Remove Atmospheric Carbon via Better Agriculture and Forestry
18. Nationalize, Electrify & Multi-track Railways
19. Continental High Speed Rail or Maglev Network
20. Rising $80/tonne Carbon Tax and Import Tariff
21. Public Information & Workforce Training for Climate Action
22. Climate Savings Bond Program
23. Stopgap Geo-Engineering with UN Coordination
24. Help Communities Stay Dry, Whole and Productive in Changed Climate
25. Research Climate & Sustainability Solutions
26. Reward Service to Climate & Sustainability Effort through a Congressional Medal

3) Political Demands/Planks of the US Climate Platform (Legislative/Executive Acts)

1. The Popular Sovereignty Act

a. All elections shall be funded by a combination of public funds plus individual donations of less than $150. It will be illegal for office holders, candidates for office or their associates to accept campaign donations of over $150 from any private individual, organization, or corporation.
b. A Right to Vote Act will be proposed for passage. Included provisions including declaring Election Day a national holiday and opt-out rather than opt-in voter registration
c. Ranked Choice Voting for Single-Occupant Offices – Enables multiple candidates with overlapping views to run without fears of “splitting the vote”
d. Fair Vote Proportional Representation with Larger Districts for Multi-Person Office Elections – Break up gerrymandered districts into larger multi-seat districts, where voters rank their choices and winners reach threshold of proportion of voters to take office.
e. Ban the filibuster in the US Senate.

2. The Living Wage and Job Guarantee Act:

Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour and provide a publicly-funded guaranteed job at that wage for all of those who are seeking work. Publicly funded jobs will be in sectors and job categories where social need is great and the private sector cannot profitably offer services and therefore employment. Within the climate action program, jobs in the job guarantee program will focus on sectors not addressed by targeted climate mitigation policies. The job guarantee program will enable employees in that program to attend, part-time, job skills retraining programs offering training in skills in current demand from the private and public sectors.

3. The Equal Justice Under the Law & Gun Violence De-escalation Act:

a. Mandatory Police Body Cameras with joint civilian-judicial review of raw police body-camera footage in cases of alleged police brutality and discriminatory policing
b. Mandatory 4-Week Police De-escalation Training
c. Demilitarization of Police Equipment –
d. Federal Database, Certification and Ranking of Police Departments and Individual Police Officials on Appropriate Use of Force and Discriminatory Treatment Based on Racial or Ethnic Categories.
e. National requirement for licensure to buy guns.
f. Universal background checks for civilian gun purchases
g. Mandatory gun safety training to acquire a gun license.
h. Ban on sale of large capacity magazines and assault weapons
i. With firearm purchase, mandatory purchase of lockable gun storage facility or proof of ownership of such a facility.
j. Federal $400 per working gun buyback program; $750 per working semiautomatic or automatic weapon buyback.

4. The 21st Century Glass Steagall Act

a. Separation of the financial securities business from deposit-taking institutions and commercial banking (loan-making) on all levels of banking, including savings and loan banks and credit unions. No bank or financial holding company will be able to own both a securities and a deposit-taking or loan-making institution.
b. Impose on securities and derivatives transactions a 1% tax that will rise if speculative activity continues to draw high levels of investment interest and continues to inflate the value of assets.
c. Tax capital gains tax rate on speculative investment instruments (securities that do not represent a real asset) will be raised to 50%
d. Investigation and effective prosecution of financial fraud;
i. Extension of statute of limitations for financial and wire fraud to 15 Years.
ii. Appointment of independent prosecutors with adequate funding to investigate current and past financial frauds.
e. Close the “carried interest” loophole for hedge fund managers; tax their income from fund management as ordinary income.

5. The Comprehensive Electrification Act:

Electricity as an energy carrier does not emit greenhouse or other gases at the point of use and can be generated from non-carbon-emitting energy sources. Electric circuits are some of the most efficient means of transporting and converting energy to do useful work, usually losing anywhere from three to fifteen percent of the initial energy input depending on the type of circuit. The electrification of heating, cooling, and transport will become mandatory in both new as well as existing machines and buildings, unless alternative non-emitting, lower environmental impact means of transferring or converting energy are available (for instance storage of solar or geothermal heat for heating applications). As energy uses are electrified, complete decarbonization of energy becomes practically feasible.

a. Ban on Sale of Domestic Fossil Fuel-Dependent Heating, Water Heating & Cooking-Appliances; Buyback, salvage, and recycling of stocks of new or used fossil-fuel dependent appliances.
b. Rebate for Battery Electric Vehicles at the rate of $200/kWh battery storage with a minimum of 15 kWh onboard storage. Successive reductions in rebate as battery electric vehicles become more affordable.
c. 100% refundable tax credit for installation costs of 100kW or more powerful electric vehicle charge equipment within 1000 meters of a limited-access principal arterial curb, exit or entrance, with pay-per-charge capacity for public charging. This tax credit is also available to truck and bus depots and highway rest stops.
d. 50% Refundable Tax Credit for Installation of 5kW or higher electric vehicle charge equipment on private property, with or without pay-per-charge capacity for public charging. 100% Refundable Tax Credit for Level 2 or higher electric vehicle charge equipment in parking spaces adjacent to multi-family dwelling units and hotels with or without pay-per-charge capacity.
e. For tax exempt entities, federal grants for 50% of the installation cost of public vehicle charging stations Level 2 or higher, curbside or in municipal parking lots.
f. Fund pilot program to develop inductive charging technologies via roadway for battery electric vehicles.
g. Industry-by-industry development with Department of Energy of technology pathway to net zero emissions for cement, steel, and other fossil fuel dependent industries. Design of appropriate incentive programs for each industry to speed adoption of net-zero emitting technologies.
h. Require owners of natural gas distribution networks to present a 10 year plan for decommissioning their natural gas distribution system to residences and businesses. Incentives for completing the decommissioning will take the form of a partial, stepwise buyout of these assets, as each step in decommissioning is achieved.

6. Mandatory National Loading Order and Mandatory Extinction Order of Energy Resources for Electrical Energy. All electrical utilities, both privately and publicly owned, as well as state utility regulators will be required to put into place policies and incentives to expand the use of resources in the loading order as stated below and reduce and extinguish the use of those in the extinction order as stated below in coordination with measures taken by the federal and state governments to achieve these ends. The National Loading Order will be from highest to lowest priority will be:

i. Energy Efficiency (same or greater work done, less energy used)
ii. Energy Conservation (less work done, less energy used)
iii. Renewable electricity locally generated utilized immediately
iv. Renewable electricity locally generated, stored for later use
v. Renewable energy remotely generated utilized immediately
vi. Renewable energy remotely generated, stored for later use.
vii. Nuclear generated electricity

The National Extinction Order for Primary Energy Resources will be:

i. Coal-generated electricity
ii. Diesel/petroleum generated electricity
iii. Propane generated electricity
iv. Natural-gas generated electricity

It will be a mandate of the Department of Energy to propose specific measures for local and regional electrical utilities and grid operators to meet the requirement of eliminating the use of fossil resources in electricity generation and maintain electricity supply.

7. National Rank Order of Transport Facilities Act will be established to guide federal spending and regulatory activity to cut emissions and negative social impacts from transportation and transportation infrastructure.

a. Active transportation (walking + biking) for able-bodied, electric driven scooters & wheelchairs for mobility challenged; accommodations in rights of way and parking for bicycles and for cargo carrying devices such as carts and cargo-bikes with and without electrical assist.
b. Active transportation with electrical assist (incl. e-bikes). Accommodations for public charging of portable and lightweight electric vehicles and mobility devices.
c. Electric buses and commercial trucks (battery electric, grid-optional) powered 80% or more by renewable energy. Accommodation of charging facilities for public and private vehicles in these categories both along rights of way as well as in parking areas.
d. Electric rail for passengers and freight (heavy rail, light rail, subway, streetcars) powered 80% or more by renewable energy
e. Electric buses and commercial trucks powered by current grid generation mix
f. Electric rail for passengers and freight powered by current grid generation mix
g. Electric personal passenger vehicles with accommodations for public charging at workplaces; multifamily dwellings, hotels, and along long-distance routes.

8. The North American Renewable Energy Transmission Act
A US Renewable Energy Transmission Authority will be established to enable equal access to renewable energy electricity generation throughout the United States, enabling generation to be matched as closely as possible to the time of power usage. The USRETA will build a renewable energy supergrid that spans the United States and up to 400 miles offshore into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This US and North American supergrid will link renewable energy resources across US territory, in Canada and Mexico into a North American renewable energy supergrid to enable energy demand to be served directly by renewable energy flow, reducing the need for still scarce energy storage. This grid will be outfitted with state of the art load balancing and energy dispatch technologies to enable intelligent shunting of renewable energy where it is needed. The mandate of the USRETA will be to provide supplies of renewable power so all regions of the United States can reduce emissions from energy production at similar rates, whatever the degree and type of naturally-occurring renewable energy they possess. USRETA energy will be stored as pumped hydroelectric storage or as electrolytic hydrogen if there is excess power.

9. Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Finance Act.

a. Renewable Energy Generation The act will provide for the finance of the building of renewable generation and a create a pool of funds from all electric utility rate payers to enable secure, 10-12% performance-based profit for 15 years, which will become the basis of the creditworthiness of each project. This reliable projected cash flow will enable project initiators to secure bank loans to finance the project. All utility regulating bodies must provide a cost-based feed-in-tariff for all renewable energy resources in their service area, enabling project owner’s cost recovery plus a profit on the installation of a well-designed, well-positioned and well-oriented renewable energy generator and tie-in of renewable energy resources to the grid or to metered load sources “behind the meter” on the facility. Energy generated locally will have priority over energy imported via the USRETA, requiring coordination between local grid operators and the USRETA operators.
b. Renewable Energy Storage – For installations of electrical energy storage up to 1000 kWh in total capacity attached directly to a renewable energy generator, the government will grant a refundable tax credit in the amount of $125/kWh installed. Tax credit amount will decrease over time to encourage production of less expensive batteries.

10. Fossil Fuel Electricity Generator Premature Retirement Fund. The federal government will buy out long-term contracts of increasingly unnecessary fossil generation given the establishment of a national loading order and national extinction order as well as increase in renewable resources on the grid. Utilities will incur no financial penalties for possessing legacy contracts which they are willing to discard in favor of settlements with the government.

11. Climate Emergency Solar Electric Bus System. The federal government will provide capital funding and operational support for routine local and middle distance passenger travel on high traffic arterials and urban highways a frequent battery-electric bus system with buses capable of accommodating passengers, light freight and bicycles. The government will buy out existing diesel bus fleets from private operators and public transit agencies offering favorable financing on battery-electric alternatives. The government will create or set up financing rules for equipment acquisition that favors battery electric buses that have a solar-photovoltaic “skin” on them to generate 5-10% of energy plus emergency power as well as a Wifi telecommunications system for passenger use. In exchange for funding, the federal government will mandate that bus operations companies source their power from new renewable energy generation, offering a facility for matching renewable power plant developers and public transit agencies/bus operations companies. With the cooperation of local public transit agencies and private bus system operators, the Federal government will mandate high frequencies of service to encourage switching to renewably-powered electric public transit for routine trips along predictable routes, including a rural “post bus” system.

12. Safe Streets-Complete Streets Act – Spend $3 Trillion over five years to provide Americans with access to multiple modes of transportation beyond personal cars and light trucks, including active transportation (biking and walking). Provide $1 trillion over 5 years to municipalities and counties to either build separated bike infrastructure or converting where necessary traffic patterns to enable sharing of streets or alternatively to build shared streets with traffic calming where all participants can share a common right of way. Provide an additional $1 trillion to build sidewalks and bike-ped overpasses over intersections, highways and arterials that divide areas of settlement with a density greater than 800 inhabitants per square mile. Spend $1 trillion dollars to fund dedicated bus lanes on limited access highways and arterials with access at bus stops to bike, ped, and local transportation. Make federal funding for roads contingent upon design by state highway departments of multi-modal roadways and efficient, design utilization of these funds by municipalities.

13. The Orderly Liquidation of the Fossil Fuel Industries Act

a. Liquidation and Remediation Plan Submittal – Entities that own fossil fuel extraction, refining or transport assets will within 6 months of passage of the bill submit to the Department of Energy a 15 year or less plan to scale down and deconstruct those assets they own that have no use in a net zero carbon emitting society. They will also present a blackfield and brownfield remediation plan for areas which the operations of their facilities have made toxic or infertile to human beings or species native to that area. The will also present a finance plan for the deconstruction and remediation plan.
b. Liquidation and Remediation Plan Timeline and Monitoring – The Department of Energy will monitor at 3 month intervals the progress of the legal owners of fossil fuel extraction, refining and transport facilities in implementing their agreed upon liquidation plan. Owners of these facilities will be held legally responsible including civil and criminal penalties for not complying with the timeline to liquidate their assets and remediate the damages to adjacent properties and jurisdictions to their facilities and areas of operation.
c. Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil or Natural Gas
d. Ban on Drilling in the Arctic
e. Ban on Fossil Fuel Exports
f. Ban on Mountain-top Removal Mining
g. Ban on Import and Processing of Tar Sands Oil

14. Ultra-High Performance Building and Renovation Act

a. A 25% fully refundable investment tax credit for new buildings or renovations that meet the energy efficiency and comfort performance criteria of Passivhaus buildings (0.6 ACH airtightness, 15 kWh/m2 (4.75 KBTU/ft2) of space conditioning energy per year) plus 3 years of monitored performance data within 20% of modeled energy use.
b. Establishment of a public High Performance Building Bank offering zero to two percent loans for renovation and new construction of Passivhaus-standard buildings. Offer additional 75% of the energy related expenses in low-interest loans for aesthetic improvements/modifications to spur a high performance construction/renovation boom. Incentivize the use of low-carbon materials such as wood, and natural fiber-insulation for additional credits.
c. An additional 10% refundable tax credit will be offered for building or renovation projects that use 90% by weight rapidly renewable resources as building materials.
d. An additional 20% refundable tax credit will be offered for new buildings or renovations containing 3 or more dwelling units, all units offered at sale prices or rental rates that are 60% or less of the current market rate in the area. Rents will be limited to 1% increases per annum for 40 years. Resale values of condominiums will also be limited to 1% increases from the original sale price for 40 years.
e. Adoption of California’s Title 24 Standards for lighting and lighting controls throughout the US for new construction and major renovations.
f. Two-year bulb exchange program: homeowners and small businesses will be able to exchange used but functioning inefficient bulbs for high efficiency LED bulbs at no charge to them.

15. Land Value Tax Promotion Act – Provide municipalities with $3,000/student/annum educational grants for 10 years for converting municipal revenue collection from property taxes to land value taxes, thus encouraging infill development and eliminating local tax penalties for property owners for energy efficiency and other property improvements.

16. Fossil-Free Agriculture Act – In a combined program of the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Energy, the agricultural supply industry will receive research grants to develop and offer as of 2019, farm implements that use only electricity as their energy input. As of 2022, the sale of non-plug-in, liquid fuel only farm machinery will be banned.

17. Natural Carbon Storage Act – Grant forest-owners a fully-refundable tax credit for increases in forest biomass at $2.00 per additional tonne/year. Exempted are biomass losses from control-burn and natural-burn forest fires.

18. Railway Purchase and Electrification Act – The privately owned railway oligopoly will be bought out and the rails will be operated as a publicly-owned utility. Where geographically feasible, single track routes will be turned into multi-track with an eye to minimizing the environmental and social displacement involved. Multi-tracking the railways will enable increased freight traffic and easier commingling of passenger and freight traffic.

19. The Continental High Speed Rail Act – The US government will fund the building of a high speed rail system targeting a maximum 15 hour cross country journey by rail including 12 stops (New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco). A thorough study of maglev technology by the Department of Energy will make the final determination of propulsion and rail types, whether conventional high speed rail or magnetic levitation. The rail agency will procure power via long-term contracts with renewable energy projects.

20. Carbon Tax and Tariff Act – As a means of driving consumer and business choice a national $80/metric tonne carbon dioxide equivalent carbon tax will be applied to all uses of fossil fuels considered non-essential to the climate mitigation effort. The tax will ascend by $10/tonne every year. Mission-critical projects will be taxed starting at $10/tonne each year ascending likewise at $10/tonne/year to encourage rational carbon accounting and lower embedded carbon in infrastructure projects. Tariffs harmonized with the carbon tax will be imposed on imports where no similar carbon tax is imposed on domestic production in the country of origin (tariffs will “fill in” where foreign carbon tax programs are inadequate). If states decide to impose carbon taxes, federal carbon taxes will be harmonized to produce at least the current national carbon price level.

21. Consumer Information & Workforce Training for Climate Protection Act – Architects, Engineers, Designers, Builders, Construction Workers, Project Developers, and Consumers will be offered training and information in climate stabilizing design, including Passivhaus architecture, construction techniques and multi-modal street/traffic design.

22. Climate Stabilization Savings Bonds – Offer buyers a stable means to save for retirement by selling tax-free inflation-protected federal government bonds that offer a 3% annual yield above inflation. Such bonds are offered, as well, to reduce in the short and medium term inflation from the additional spending required to stabilize the climate.

23. Emergency Global Temperature Stabilization Treaty Authority – To reduce or eliminate excessive warming from existing emissions the Environmental Protection Agency will assess the risks associated with so-called “geo-engineering” techniques and create a rank order of tools to reduce excessive warming with corresponding scientific bodies in other countries. International cooperation will be sought in deciding the application of tools that may have negative impacts on other sovereign nations. Those methods that impact global weather patterns will be proposed to the United Nations for review.

24. Climate Adaptation & Military Redeployment Act – The oncoming changes to the climate and sea levels will require over the next several decades ongoing work in the area of sea barrier erection, wildfire prevention, and efforts to maintain the productivity of agriculture. Military personnel will be redeployed from unnecessary and provocative foreign entanglements to work under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers to erect seawalls and assist National Guard with emergency response to disasters. Military personnel will be supplemented by Job Guarantee program employees in helping the United States and other nations respond to the threats associated with a warming world.

25. Science For a Sustainable Future Act – 

a. Quadruple Funding for the Department of Energy’s research into the technological challenges of building a net-zero emissions carbon emissions society.
b. Establish the National Academy of Sustainable Materials between the EPA, the US Forest Service, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of Commerce with an annual grants program reaching $10 Bio to research “upstream” solutions to toxic waste production and resource depletion by current commercial, industrial and recreational activities.

26. Congressional Medal for National Service to Sustainable & Climate Stable Development – Reward contributions to the effort to stabilize the climate through recognition akin to national military service medals.

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