Booker: ‘There Are 3,000 Communities’ Where Kids Have More Than Twice the Blood Lead Level of Flint

By Melanie Arter | September 4, 2019 | 3:05pm EDT
(Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP/Getty Images)

( - Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Cory Booker unveiled his $3 trillion climate change plan on Tuesday, telling MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” that climate change is the first thing he will legislate on if he is president.

“Tragic fires. The increase of those fires, the flooding in the Midwest, these horrific storms. This is something that is coming at us, that really barreling towards civilization, and we must act with a much graver sense of urgency, or else the cost of inaction now is measuring for our economy in trillions of dollars. They're predicting in the next by 2100, it could shrink the U.S. economy by more than 10% if we do not act,” Booker said.


Only one major political party is “denying that this is a problem with a sense of urgency,” he said, referring to the GOP. “I mean that's how singular, what a small handful of Republicans, because let's not paint each other with broad brushes. Republicans polling them” understand this is an issue.

The senator said everyone understands the climate change threat.



“Everybody understands it, and by the way open your window. Most Americans are seeing wacky weather - the hottest months ever recorded in the last months that we've had. So this is no longer up for debate in most Americans' hearts and minds, except for a narrow group of leadership that is doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industries and other massive corporate lobbyists who are trying to stop us doing action,” Booker said.

“And meanwhile, the consensus of global scientists are saying if we do not act with a sense of urgency, in about an 11-year window, the catastrophic effects on humanity -- in fact, read the military reports. Those are things scary to me. When our own U.S. military is saying we better plan for planetary crisis, migratory problems, extremism, famines, the kind of things if we do not act, that we will see on the planet Earth,” he said.

“So if this is urgent, before we get to the details, to me there is two questions about a climate plan. What's in the climate plan, and how high is it on the list of priorities. So my question to you is, if you're elected president of the United States, and you have unified democratic governance, let's say. Is climate the first thing you move on? Is that the first domestic?” Hayes asked.

“So this is the thing about my plan that I'm excited about. When we had another Republican president who then refused to join the Kyoto Accords, I turned to my city and said climate will be the lens through which we view everything that we do. So I was a guy that said hey, our prisoner reentry programs are going to be putting people to work on urban farms, because in our city we need to pull more of that carbon out of the air.

We said that our job training programs are going to be about environmentally retrofitting buildings, union jobs. There is nothing we can do anybody that is not viewed through that lens, and that's changing the practice of how we procure things. It’s where we invest. It's our R&D. It's our ag bills. Everything has to now be about meeting this crisis, because If not, by the time my second term is over, our planet will be slipping into crisis.

When asked whether climate change is the first thing he’ll legislate on, Booker said, “Yes, because it's tied to a lot of other things. Look, there’s many Americans calling out for massive infrastructure program. This is in line with what infrastructure looks like. I'm an environmental justice guy as a guy that lives in the city that has a massive lead problem right now. Most people don't know this.

"There are 3,000 communities, 3,000 jurisdictions where the children have more than twice the blood lead level of Flint, Michigan. We should get rid of all the lead pipes that are going into residential area, schools. This should be something that should have been done decades ago, frankly, but we haven't done it. So much of what I'm doing relates to others aspects, whether it's r&d, whether it's infrastructure, whether it's jobs, boosting the economy, our plan would create millions of jobs in this country," he said.

“So you see that as a priority, like a package together?” Hayes asked.

“I see a package together that it will touch on a lot of other priorities. Climate has to be the lens through which everything that we do,” Booker said.

Booker’s climate change plan will:


Make the most sweeping investment to advance environmental justice, because we can’t move forward into a clean energy economy without righting the wrongs of decades of pollution and corporate greed in marginalized communities, and without an informed commitment to not repeating these wrongs.

Directly invest over $3 trillion dollars by 2030 to fund the transition to a 100% carbon-neutral economy by no later than 2045 and spurring economic activity, creating millions of jobs where they are needed most, and empowering communities to have control and ownership over their energy systems and local environments.

Accelerate the end of fossil fuels by immediately eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies, barring all new fossil fuel leases, phasing out fracking, and instituting a carbon fee and progressive climate dividend — achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030.

Supercharge innovation and a clean energy workforce through a $400 billion community-based investment in every corner of the country in the basic research, applied research, and commercialization of clean energy technologies and solutions for hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy.

Unleash natural climate solutions through massive reforestation and coastal wetlands restoration.

Invest over $100 billion by 2030 through existing USDA conservation programs to make farms more climate resilient and enable our farmers and ranchers to be part of the climate change solution.

Lead the world toward ambitious and binding emissions commitments.

Center people and communities in all of the above, through strong labor standards, funding disaster relief and preparedness, incentivizing distributed ownership of renewable technologies to ensure its benefits are widely enjoyed, engaging with communities to make their own energy and environmental choices, and ensuring fairness for workers and communities.



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