Steyer Enters Presidential Race, Introduces Climate Plan
California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has entered the 2020 presidential race in pursuit of the Democratic nomination and introduced what he calls a “Justice-Centered Climate Plan.”
Steyer is the second candidate to enter the race after Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) to make climate change the primary focus of their campaign. Western Wire previously covered Inslee’s proposal.
Whereas Inslee’s plan called for the total elimination of oil and natural gas production, Steyer appears to have a less stringent goal to “eliminate fossil fuel pollution from all sectors to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero global warming pollution by no later than 2045.” This possibly leaves the door open to production as the industry continues to make rapid progress at reducing emissions.
Steyer does however want to end all development on public lands. His plan would “keep publicly-owned oil, coal, and gas in the ground by stopping the expansion of fossil fuel leases and establishing a careful process to wind down federal onshore and offshore fossil fuel production.”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) overseas 700 million acres of federal mineral estates, of which only 0.07% has oil and natural gas well pads, and associated roads and facilities. Recently, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) announced that BLM would be relocating its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colo., as reported by Western Wire.
Acknowledging that he may not have Democratic majorities in Congress who support his agenda if he wins, Steyer said he would resort to executive power to implement his preferred policies. His website says, “As president, Tom will declare the climate crisis a national emergency on his first day in office and will begin implementing his Justice-Centered Climate Plan, with or without Congress.”
Steyer also looks to take aim at oil and natural gas through the tax code, although he doesn’t outline specifics. “End all forms of government giveaways to big polluters at the expense of American taxpayers, including unlimited and unpriced global warming pollution, direct subsidies, [and] tax breaks,” his website states.
To build and retrofit energy efficient buildings, upgrade grids, build “clean” transportation infrastructure, and spur new investment, Steyer outlines trillions in new federal spending. He would also use the power of the federal government to overhaul procurement practices to meet climate targets and require lenders, investors, pension funds, and publicly-traded companies to disclose their fossil fuel holdings.
Much of this would be overseen by a cabinet-level official appointed by Steyer.
Fixing national parks is another priority of the Steyer plan, an effort that’s received bipartisan support recently, including the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act that’s been backed by both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House as well as being sponsored by several U.S. Senators running for president.
There was also a massive public lands bill that was passed into law earlier this year that received 92 votes in the Senate and set aside 1.3 million acres to be designated as wilderness.
Steyer will not be on stage for the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit next week after failing to meet the donor and polling thresholds.
But he could participate in a climate town hall hosted by CNN in New York in September. The network is inviting candidates who meet the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) polling standard for their September debate – meaning Steyer would need to hit at least 2% in four approved polls by the end of August.
The town hall will not be a traditional debate with multiple candidates on stage at the same time. Instead, candidates will appear individually back-to-back. Thurs far, the DNC has rejected calls by candidates and activist groups like the Sunrise Movement to host a debate dedicated solely to climate change, although that position may change due to increasing pressure.