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Julián Castro unveils $10 trillion environmental plan

By Sommer Brokaw
Julián Castro unveils $10 trillion environmental plan
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released a climate change plan Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro unveiled Tuesday a $10 trillion plan to fight for environmental justice, resilience and jobs amid climate change.

The former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary released the plan titled "People and Planet First Plan" ahead of his scheduled appearance Wednesday in New York at CNN's climate crisis town hall and amid Hurricane Dorian's devastation in the Bahamas.

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Castro blamed carbon emissions for "warming our planet," and "causing sea levels to rise."

The candidate proposes to "direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local and private investments over the next decade to create 10 million good paying jobs, transition away from fossil fuels, build a 100 percent clean-energy economy, and lead the world in the 21st century," the plan states.

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Castro aims to "replace all electricity generated by coal to zero-emission sources," by 2030, and place a "carbon pollution fee" on "large-scale polluters" to create revenue for renewable energy.

"Inaction is not an option," Castro added, pointing out that the United Nations Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change said 12 years remain to limit the devastating impact of global warming.

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If elected president, Castro said one of his first executive actions would be to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and further rally the the international community to achieve worldwide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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He also aims to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, 50 percent of the same by 2050, and plant 30 billion trees by 2050, doubling the rate of reforestation.

Castro said he would also create a $200 billion Green Infrastructure Fund that would include smart grids and electric vehicle charging stations.

He would also strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program, update flood maps nationwide and expand HUD's competitive National Disaster Resilience Grant program.

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During his time as Housing and Urban Development secretary, Castro said he saw natural disasters becoming more prevalent as multiple floods occurred in areas only expected to flood once in 100 years.

"Right now, the climate crisis is already devastating our communities, our homes and our families," Castro said. "Severe storms, deadly hurricanes, massive floods, extreme droughts, and wildfires are now a normal occurrence, destroying homes and businesses, and shrinking our economy."

Beyond infrastructure damage, other impacts of these storms such as lost time from work and children missing days from school "disproportionately affects communities of color" and the poor, he added.

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Minorities are already more likely to be impacted by environmental pollution with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing black children are twice as likely to have asthma than white children and adults with annual household incomes of $75,000 or less are more likely to have asthma.

"In my first 100 days, I will propose new civil rights legislation to address the disparate impact of environmental discrimination and dismantle structures of environmental racism," Castro said.

Castro's proposal Tuesday was the first two parts of what his team says will be a five-part plan.

Greenpeace previously gave Castro's environmental record a "C" rating, ranking him 13 out of 20 presidential candidates.

Castro is one of 10 Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for the next primary debate in Houston on Sept. 12, which will air on ABC News.

Last month, Castro also released a plan to expand protections for endangered species and their habitats and end euthanization at animal shelters.

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