MSNBC Defends $16 Trillion Sanders Climate Plan: ‘Price to Not Doing Anything’

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On Thursday afternoon, MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi excitedly touted the new $16 trillion climate change plan put out by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and excused the massive price tag by lecturing viewers that “there’s a price to not doing anything or to doing too little.” He then brought on left-wing activists to further justify the extreme policy proposal.

“Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is out with a new plan to tackle climate change and it’s got ambitious goals. Sanders’ plan calls for 100% renewable energy by 2030, full decarbonization by 2050,” Velshi proclaimed early in the 1:00 p.m. ET hour on Thursday as he began a slide show detailing the wildly expensive and fanciful idea.

 

 

The anchor parroted Sanders’ claim that it “will create 20 million jobs across industries in an effort to decarbonize the economy.” Velshi then proudly announced the cost of the plan:

Here’s one point where Sanders’ plan differs from many other climate proposals, he puts a price tag on it and he lays out the costs. The full plan would carry a price tag, he says, of $16.3 trillion to fully enact. That makes it the most expensive climate plan from the Democratic contenders.

After listing how the huge pile of taxpayer money would be spent, Velshi tried to argue that the cost of doing nothing would be higher:

And while the plan includes how it would be paid for, let’s remember this, according to the fourth National Climate Assessment if we did nothing on climate change, by 2090, we can expect up to 9,300 more deaths per year and up to $507.6 billion in economic damage per year. With the actions to mitigate and adapt, a report by two EPA scientists found the U.S. could benefit from about $10 trillion in savings by about 2100.

The host warned: “So remember, when you see a big price tag on climate change, always remember there’s a price to not doing anything or to doing too little.”

Velshi then turned to former Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy and declared: “I’m glad there’s a price tag on it. It’s big. And it looks for big things.” McCarthy agreed and even spun: “I think the most important thing we understand is that climate change is happening and it bears a substantial cost....And so what you see here is not a $16.3 trillion cost, it’s an investment strategy.”

Promoting the Sanders campaign proposal again during the 3:00 p.m. ET hour, Velshi brought on another guest to bolster the plan. He asked Miro Korenha, co-founder of the left-wing environmental activist website Our Daily Planet:

I’m intrigued by this only because one of the things we’re trying to figure out is something that’s going to cost $10 trillion or $15 trillion or $20 trillion to redo our economy, our carbon-based economy, do we do this hand-in-hand with business? Should government be taking that big a role in this whole thing? How do you look at this and how do you recommend that these candidates move forward on their suggestions?

Korenha was predictably thrilled that Sander was taking a government-only approach and even cheered the idea that he would abuse presidential power to enact his plan:

Well, I think one of the things to note is that in Senator Sanders’ plan, he’s willing to declare climate change a national emergency. So right off the bat, that gives the President of the United States specific executive powers that he can use for things like eminent domain. Because in order to build out this modernized grid, in order to expand renewable energy, there are going to have to be new transmission lines built. And those transmission lines will have to run through a lot of privately owned land. So I think first and foremost, that’s how we have to think of Senator Sanders’ plan, is that he is willing to elevate climate change to the highest level and use his powers accordingly.

Velshi rightfully fretted: “But that is gonna get more push-back than even the normal push-back that he’s gonna get by saying he wants to be decarbonized by 2050.”

Korenha applauded the radical idea the U.S. becoming “decarbonized” in 30 years: “And I think in Senator Sanders’ proposal, he lays out a pretty good groundwork for how we might do that....So I think that him and his staff have really thought through these sectors and how we separate them from reliance on fossil fuels.”

Velshi followed up: “So the distinction here between being carbon-neutral by a certain date and decarbonization is significant. We’re talking about – he’s talking about by 2050 having no use for fossil fuels.” Korenha replied: “That’s right, yes.”

At least displaying a small degree of skepticism, Velshi wondered: “Is that reasonable? Is decarbonization something that we should be talking about all the time? Is that a reasonable expectation?” Korenha assured him: “I think so. I think more than anything we should focus on the opportunities that exist in decarbonization.”

Velshi wrapped up the segment by touting: “And a reminder, MSNBC is teaming up on climate change with Georgetown and Our Daily Planet, September 19th and 20th. Chris Hayes and I will host and moderate a two-day climate forum with the 2020 presidential candidates.”

If the MSNBC anchor’s softball coverage on Thursday is any indication, 2020 Democrats should be comfortable pushing an extreme climate agenda at that forum without having to worry about being challenged.

Here is a transcript of Velshi promoting Sanders’ climate plan on August 22:

1:07 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is out with a new plan to tackle climate change and it’s got ambitious goals. Sanders’ plan calls for 100% renewable energy by 2030, full decarbonization by 2050. This is a big thing to understand because we are a carbon-fueled economy. His plan, he says, will create 20 million jobs across industries in an effort to decarbonize the economy.

Here’s one point where Sanders’ plan differs from many other climate proposals, he puts a price tag on it and he lays out the costs. The full plan would carry a price tag, he says, of $16.3 trillion to fully enact. That makes it the most expensive climate plan from the Democratic contenders.

The investment in renewable energy would cost $1.52 trillion to create renewable energy sources, $852 billion to build energy storage capacity, $526 billion to provide a modern smart grid, $2.18 trillion in grants to weatherize and retrofit homes and businesses. The plan would also include $2.09 trillion in electric vehicle grants, $300 billion public transit investment, and a $607 billion regional high-speed rail investment. The plan envisions a role for farmers, $160 billion for soil improvements and carbon sequestration, that’s grabbing carbon from the atmosphere.

And while the plan includes how it would be paid for, let’s remember this, according to the fourth National Climate Assessment if we did nothing on climate change, by 2090, we can expect up to 9,300 more deaths per year and up to $507.6 billion in economic damage per year. With the actions to mitigate and adapt, a report by two EPA scientists found the U.S. could benefit from about $10 trillion in savings by about 2100.

So remember, when you see a big price tag on climate change, always remember there’s a price to not doing anything or to doing too little.

Joining me now is former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.

(...)

1:11 PM ET

VELSHI: And again, I’m glad there’s a price tag on it. It’s big. And it looks for big things. And you and I just talked about this earlier this week, a presidential candidate has got to sell to Americans who might agree that there is global warming underway that the priority, making this a priority is going to cost money, doing it should lead to commensurate prosperity on the other end.

GINA MCCARTHY: That’s right. I think the most important thing we understand is that climate change is happening and it bears a substantial cost. Those costs will just overwhelm us over time. And so what you see here is not a $16.3 trillion cost, it’s an investment strategy.

(...)

Here is a transcript of Velshi’s interview with Korenha later that day:

3:33 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: Joining us now to take a closer look at Senator Sanders’ plan is Miro Korenha, co-founder of the environmental news website Our Daily Planet. Miro, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

I want to get into the nitty-gritty of this with you because that’s what you guys do. You specialize in this stuff. There’s a report from The Washington Post on Sanders’ plan, and it says, “The high cost of Sanders’ plan is due in part to eschewing partnership with private businesses to erect the wind turbines and solar panels needed to hit his goal of 100 percent renewable energy in the power sector by 2030. Instead, Sanders wants to establish a new federal electric utility to provide power to Northeast and Midwestern states while expanding the four existing federal power administrations that cover most of the rest of the Lower 48.”

I’m intrigued by this only because one of the things we’re trying to figure out is something that’s going to cost $10 trillion or $15 trillion or $20 trillion to redo our economy, our carbon-based economy, do we do this hand-in-hand with business? Should government be taking that big a role in this whole thing? How do you look at this and how do you recommend that these candidates move forward on their suggestions?

MIRO KORENHA [OUR DAILY PLANET, CO-FOUNDER]: Sure. Well, I think one of the things to note is that in Senator Sanders’ plan, he’s willing to declare climate change a national emergency. So right off the bat, that gives the President of the United States specific executive powers that he can use for things like eminent domain. Because in order to build out this modernized grid, in order to expand renewable energy, there are going to have to be new transmission lines built. And those transmission lines will have to run through a lot of privately owned land. So I think first and foremost, that’s how we have to think of Senator Sanders’ plan, is that he is willing to elevate climate change to the highest level and use his powers accordingly.

VELSHI: But that is gonna get more push-back than even the normal push-back that he’s gonna get by saying he wants to be decarbonized by 2050. What does “decarbonized” mean to you?

KORENHA: So decarbonization in so many sectors, in transportation, in housing, and certainly in how we generate energy, as you’ve mentioned before on your program, it’s very heavily reliant on fossil fuels. And furthermore, our economy is based to function on the reliance of fossil fuels. So separating our economy from this reliance is going to be a big challenge. And I think in Senator Sanders’ proposal, he lays out a pretty good groundwork for how we might do that, and the various sectors that we have to consider, such as transportation, which is heavily emphasized in his plan. Because right now transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. So I think that him and his staff have really thought through these sectors and how we separate them from reliance on fossil fuels.

VELSHI: So the distinction here between being carbon-neutral by a certain date and decarbonization is significant. We’re talking about – he’s talking about by 2050 having no use for fossil fuels.

KORENHA: That’s right, yes. And so I think that also eliminates things like carbon offsets. So, you know, if industries are going to buy offsets so, you know, someone somewhere in the world isn’t emitting carbon while we get to do so, that phases that out. So that’s how you get back to address carbon neutrality versus outright –  

VELSHI: Is that reasonable? Is decarbonization something that we should be talking about all the time? Is that a reasonable expectation?

KORENHA: I think so. I think more than anything we should focus on the opportunities that exist in decarbonization. And Senator Sanders’ plan certainly does that through the creation of jobs, through ensuring that front line communities, and communities of color especially, have the resources to participate in this new vision for the future. And that it’s not just wealthy Americans that get to profit off of this new economy and are also able to pick up and leave if, you know, if their homes burn down or if sea levels rise and eliminate where they live.

VELSHI: Miro, good to talk to you, thank you for joining us.

KORENHA: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Miro Korenha is the co-founder of Our Daily Planet. And a reminder, MSNBC is teaming up on climate change with Georgetown and Our Daily Planet, September 19th and 20th. Chris Hayes and I will host and moderate a two-day climate forum with the 2020 presidential candidates.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Economy Environment Global Warming MSNBC Video Ali Velshi Bernie Sanders

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