Dec 10, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Warren wants a "blue new deal"

Illustration of Elizabeth Warren hugging the earth

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is out with new plans to speed up offshore wind projects, expand marine sanctuaries, and bolster use of oceans to soak up carbon emissions.

Driving the news: Those are three pillars of the far wider "Blue New Deal" — a riff on the "Green New Deal" concept — on ocean policy that the Democratic White House hopeful unveiled Tuesday.

Why it matters: Politically, the plan's arrival follows Warren's recent slide in the polls after challenging Joe Biden for frontrunner status in the fall.

  • There's plenty of competition for the green mantle as Bernie Sanders, Warren's rival for progressive voters, touts his plans.
  • Billionaire climate advocates like Mike Bloomberg — who is at UN climate talks in Spain today — and Tom Steyer are spending heavily.

How it works, part 1: Energy-related provisions in Warren's plan include...

  • A vow to "streamline and fast-track permitting" for offshore wind, which Warren accuses President Trump of slow-walking even as developers seek to build major Atlantic Coast projects.
  • Calling on Congress to approve long-term extensions of renewable energy tax credits and provide more resources to the Interior Department's offshore energy branches.
  • Pledging to restore Obama-era bans on Arctic offshore drilling as part of her wider opposition to new offshore leases and phasing out existing offshore development.
  • A push to electrify shipping ports, which are hives of heavy-duty diesel vehicle traffic

How it works, part 2: On climate, Warren vows an executive order requiring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to bolster ocean carbon sequestration efforts.

  • "I will also direct NOAA to map and establish 'Blue Carbon Zones' in federal waters, so that we can identify, protect, and manage these highly productive areas."

Quick take: The plan blends Warren's jobs and economic justice messages into her environmental posture.

  • For instance, it says additional subsidies and tax benefits for large ocean renewable projects would be subject to "community benefits agreements" that "should include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights."
  • And this line about getting offshore wind projects approved stood out: "The climate crisis is too urgent to let the ultra-wealthy complain about wind turbines getting in the way of their ocean views."

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