The Green New Deal: A Conversation with Senator Edward J. Markey

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Edward J. Markey

U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (D); Member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Coauthor, Green New Deal Resolution; Chair, Senate Climate Task Force 

David Sandalow

Inaugural Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

Senator Edward J. Markey discusses the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution aimed at addressing the issue of climate change.

SANDALOW: Good morning, everyone. My name’s David Sandalow. I am the inaugural fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. And I am delighted to be here for an on-the-record session with Senator Ed Markey.

He—the senator needs very little introduction in this town. He has been a member of Congress for more than forty years. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and elected to the U.S. Senate in 2013. Energy and environmental issues has been a priority of the senator’s for all of his career. To pick just a few examples, he’s the author of the Appliance Efficiency Act of 1987, principal House author of the 2007 fuel economy law, coauthor of the landmark 2009 Waxman-Markey bill. From 2007 to 2010, he chaired the select committee on energy independence and global warming. Today in the Senate, he’s a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Environment and Public Works, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

And in February, he introduced Senate Resolution 59, which is titled The Resolution Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green New Deal, which is what we’re here to discuss today. So, Senator, let me start with a basic question: What is the Green New Deal?

MARKEY: The Green New Deal is a massive mobilization to transform our climate, our economy, and our democracy. It is not prescriptive, but it is a set of principles that we lay out as a goal for the country. And it is as a result of a conclusion that has been reached, as a consensus, by the scientists of the United Nations and our own country. So we begin by just making it clear that the United Nations and all of their scientists concluded at the end of last year that climate is warming dangerously, that the goal should no longer be two degrees centigrade but one-point-five degrees. And that we have until 2030 before we start to see the real catastrophic consequences. And in the words of the United Nations scientists, that the threat is now existential to the planet.

Now, that’s combined with the conclusion of thirteen separate federal agencies at the end of 2018, which also issued a report. Because of a federal law passed in 1990, every four years they must do so on the subject of climate change. Their conclusion was that if we continue business as usual that the planet is going to warm by nine degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Nine degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. And that it could lead to a rise in sea levels of—in worst case scenario—eleven feet. So the magnitude of the threat is huge. And it is a consensus amongst global scientists and domestic scientists. It’s no longer a debatable subject, regardless of how much money the Koch brothers throw at the phony science, no matter how much greenwashing the fossil fuel industry seeks to engage in. That debate is over.

So then you move to the next question: What are we going to do about something that could result in nine degrees Fahrenheit warming. What are we going to do about something that could lead to an eleven-foot rise in sea level? What are we going to do about forest fires that today will look like a preview of coming attractions in thirty, forty, fifty years, in terms of the level of damage which they’re able to do to our planet? So we call for this bold transformation—ten years—where we need a plan. We need to put in place the kinds of changes in our transportation, in our utility, agriculture, manufacturing sectors—in all sectors of our economy. And it’s not an option.

However, we believe that we can create between three and five million jobs while we accomplish it. And what we want, and we state quite clearly in the Green New Deal resolution, is that we want for this program to be inclusive. Unlike the first New Deal, which actually excluded African Americans, the sharecroppers, from being able to participate in Social Security. We make it quite explicit that everyone should be included—marginalized communities, those where in many, many instances where the most polluting facilities were located and still are located today, should all be included in this transformation.

So that’s our goal. And it has in just ten weeks transformed the discussion around climate change. It’s triggered a national debate. Everyone has a view on it now. And it is now injected deeply into the—into the political debate in our country. And just for a frame of reference, in 2016—this is how sad it is—in 2016, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump were asked a single question about climate change, an existential threat to the planet. Not a single question asked by reporters. How sad is that? The Green New Deal has solved that problem for 2019, OK, and 2020. We don’t have to worry that people are going to not have this as a central question. They are going to have to be prepared to answer.

SANDALOW: Senator, there’s been some discussion about what exactly the Green New Deal is. And just in the past twenty-four hours, there’s been a dialogue about the ten-year mobilization in the Green New Deal, and the discussion among some people whether this is a deadline for achieving zero carbon emissions, or whether the ten-year mobilization is kind of a crash program to get started. What is the ten-year mobilization?

MARKEY: The ten-year mobilization is towards that goal. The analogy that I use is when President Kennedy felt that Soviet dominance in outer space was an existential threat to the United States in the ’60s—Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin—that we could not fall behind. Whoever controlled outer space would control the destiny of the planet, given the nuclear weapons proliferation that was taking place. And so what he called for was a ten-year mobilization for the United States to send a mission to the moon. Now, when he spoke at Rice University, he said: We will have to invent metals, alloys, propulsion systems that do not exist. That we will have to return that mission safely from the moon through heat half the intensity of the sun, and we would have to do its safely within that ten-year period. And we would do it, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. And we would be successful because we were bold.

Now, we actually finished it within that period of time. And I think the U.S. looks back quite proudly at what happened. If it took eleven years, I think we’d still be proud. Or twelve years. But the mobilization is what had to be unleashed.

SANDALOW: So your point is, we need to start started.

MARKEY: Well, President Eisenhower actually criticized President Kennedy in 1962 for announcing this. Yeah, there’s going to be skeptics. There, it was President Kennedy skeptical of President—President Eisenhower skeptical of President Kennedy in 1962. David Brinkley has this great book out right now on the subject. So the—but the challenge has to be something which we accept and embraced.

SANDALOW: So at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president described the new deal as calling for, quote, “no planes.” And a former aide to the president said: The Green New Deal, quote, “wants to take away your hamburgers.” (Laughter.) Are those descriptions correct?

MARKEY: No. Surprisingly, something Donald Trump said is inaccurate. (Laughter.) So, no, it doesn’t ban planes, and it doesn’t ban hamburgers, and it doesn’t ban nuclear power, and it doesn’t ban carbon capture and sequestration. None of those words are actually in the Green New Deal. They’re not even in there. So our goal is to challenge, you know, the country. And in fact, AOC and I, we actually did a—we took a picture of us eating ice cream saying: Well, you know, we love ice cream. And as a result we love cows. So we don’t want to ban cows. OK, so we took a picture to that effect. So we have to deal with—you know, with Trump. And we know he has a historically high prevarication coefficient. (Laughter.) And we just have to deal with that as kind of his underlying personality trait.

And by the way, the same thing happened when we finished—out of the Energy and Commerce Committee—we finished the Affordable Care Act in the first week of August of 2009. And within a week, they had an attack on the Affordable Care Act that said that there were death panels inside of the Affordable Care Act—death panels. And we had people all over the country going: Do we really want death panels? And we go, no, there are no death panels in the Affordable Care Act. So that’s what Trump is trying to do with this. He’s trying to death panel it. You know, they hire all these smart consultants, they get them all—the talking points to everyone that goes on Fox TV. They repeat it enough times that your neighbor or the family member that you have that secretly watches Fox all day start internalizing it as though it’s true, you know? And then you start doubting it yourself. And we have Democrats saying, I can’t believe we put death panels in the Affordable Care Act, right? So we’re working through this first line of attack which is, of course, lies and misrepresentations as to what in fact is specifically in the bill.

SANDALOW: Could you talk, Senator, about the role of public sector and the private sector in the Green New Deal? My colleague, Jason Bordoff, has written a great piece I think in Democracy Journal, which he calls, Ambition of the Green New Deal Best Achieved by Combining the Public Sector and the Private Sector in pursuing these goals. What’s your view on that?

MARKEY: Well, exactly. Exactly what we wanted. By, the way, David, thank you for all your great work on energy and throughout your entire career.

So what are we looking for? Well, about a hundred years ago the oil industry convinced our federal legislators—and, by the way, in many states—pretty much every state legislator—to begin giving tax breaks to oil companies, and gas companies, and coal companies, and nuclear companies. Tax breaks. Those tax breaks are still on the books for the oil companies a hundred years later. So I guess that’s a prefect public-private partnership, huh? And so what we’re looking for is the perfect public-private partnership for the competition—wind, solar, electric vehicles, batteries, more efficient buildings. How does the tax code treat them? How does the regulatory process treat them?

So here’s what we believe: If we got equal treatment that reflected the hundred-year money head start we gave the competitors, the new technologies would bury the old technologies. But you better be sure of one thing, they’re not going to give up their old tax breaks. And you can also be sure they’re going to fight as hard as they can for the new industries to get their tax breaks on a permanent basis that sends predictable signals to the marketplace, because they know that wind and solar has already dropped below coal, and dropped below nuclear, and dropped below other sources of energy generation.

And it’s terrifying them, because I’ll tell you one thing: The existential threat is to the Koch brothers’ business model. It’s to ExxonMobil’s business model. That’s what’s really driving this debate. They’re pouring—they’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this fight against the Green New Deal right now. And it’s going to have—it’s going to have billions of dollars because this thing is working. This revolution has taken place. And by the way, it’s not just a resolution. It’s a revolution we’re talking about here—complete revolution in the way in which we generate electricity.

And it’s frightening the board rooms of this country. So they have to—they can’t win on the facts. So they call the Green New Deal socialism. Oh, it’s socialism. Well, if tax breaks for oil, and gas, and coal, and nuclear for a hundred years is socialism, well, give us some of that socialism. But they call it capitalism, so we’ll call it capitalism. Give us some of that capitalism. If that’s what it is, you give it to us too. Give it to our companies. And then our private sector companies, with those benefits, will deploy the wind, the solar, the all-electric vehicles, the charging stations, the new building materials, the doubling the efficiency of every new building in our country.

And then, slowly but surely, these companies, the old industries, are going to be saddled with stranded assets that they’ll have to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And they really dread that moment, where they have to say that actually our business model is starting to collapse. So I guess from my perspective, yes, it’s a public-private partnership. But we need the same kind of public investment, you know, that we’ve had for the existing mature industries.

SANDALOW: We’re here at the Council on Foreign Relations. Could you talk about the foreign policy aspects of the Green New Deal?

MARKEY: Well, when Nancy Pelosi asked me in 2006 to create and chair the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, it was towards the goal of ultimately my chairing one hundred hearings on climate change—one hundred hearings I chaired. The record is the single most important, voluminous compilation of information this subject ever. Now, for my first hearing, I decided in early 2007, who will I have as my first witness? I invited Richard Haass to testify on that first panel in the big hearing room of Ways and Means—you know, that big, glorious Ways and Means Committee hearing room. Richard Haass.

And so he would talk about the threat. And Jim Woolsey, CIA chief, who was one of the two or three leading national advocates for a rapid transformation to an electric vehicle future for our country. Now, yes, I can Carl Pope, the head of the Sierra Club, and I had others there. But who was my first witness? The first witness was three-star General Gordon Sullivan. (Laughter.) Four-star General Gordon Sullivan. (Laughter.) Four-star General Gordon Sullivan. Now, why did I select Gordon Sullivan? Well, he had been the chief of staff for the Army.

And so the first seven minutes of testimony was this from Gordon Sullivan, that he had been chief of staff, there was a great conflict that had broken out in Somalia, in Mogadishu. The movie you have seen is Black Hawk Down. And he had to make the decision as to whether or not he was going to send our military into Mogadishu. And he did. But now, fourteen years later, 2007, he had time to reflect upon what happened. And he had, by this time, banded together with twelve other three-star and four-star generals and admirals to submit testimony to our committee as our first witness, to say that these generals and admirals believed that climate change was a threat multiplier for the United States military. And that the more that he and the others had reflected upon Mogadishu and Somalia, they realized that drought, that climate change, had led to a reduction in the water supply, in the food supply in that country. And it was bringing together in conflict different elements of the Somalian population that were now fighting over the limited resources. And that the United States had to make a decision as to whether or not we were going to send in our military in order to deal with that.

And General Gordon Sullivan, speaking for the other three- and four-star admirals and generals said that this is only going to intensify as every single year goes by. And we can look today at Bangladesh, or we can look at Syria, or we can look at Sudan. We can look at country after country and we can already see again the previews of coming attractions of what we are going to have to deal with. In fact, we can even look at the three—minimum of $3 billion it’s going to take in order to repair Camp Lejeune, the minimum of $3 billion it’s going to cost to repair Tyndall Air Force Base, all of our Raptor air capacity, to see that this is not some incidental cost for us, from a national security perspective. It calls into question whether or not we are wise enough to anticipate that without some action reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere, that it’s going to create great instability in country after country around the world.

SANDALOW: Have you had any reactions to the Green New Deal from abroad?

MARKEY: The rest of the world, obviously, is dismayed that President Trump would pull the United States out of the Paris accord. It was, after all, the United States that used all of its political and moral might to bring the Chinese and the Indians into that accord. And so, without question, it is an abdication of American responsibility, which we’re aware of in terms of international comment on many other issues. But climate is one where there is an international consensus and the U.N. scientists expressed that conclusively at the end of 2018. So, yes, the rest of the world really is in shock that the denier in chief actually works in the Oval Office, and that he has named a coal lobbyist to run the EPA, and an oil lobbyist to run the Department of Interior, and that the denier in chief himself calls it a Chinese hoax being perpetrated upon the rest of the world.

It is so absurd that I think the rest of the world must think that we are, instead of the leader on science, the lowest student in the class of climate science. And so it’s not good for us, because it sends a signal to the other countries that we want to respond—that is China, and India, and other still-developing economies—that they should use the lowest level of greenhouse gas-emitting technologies in their—in their development. But instead, as we know, countries like China are in African countries selling old fossil fuel technologies, even as the United States, up until January 20 of 2017, were trying to encourage these countries to use their own wind, or solar, or geothermal technologies as a way to create their new infrastructure for energy generation. So you wind up with our ability to tell other countries to not do that, OK, as something that is lowered in terms of—matter of fact, it’s worse than lowered. It just absolutely is nonexistent in terms of our ability to credibly discourage these other countries from selling the kind of nineteenth- and twentieth-century equipment that should be substituted using their own indigenous energy resources.

SANDALOW: We have lots of expertise in the room. At this point, I want to invite the members to ask any questions. A reminder, this is an on-the-record session. Please state your name and keep your questions concise. Sir.

Q: Yes, thanks very much for coming. My name is Christopher Graves, founder and president of the Ogilvy Center for Behavior Science.

MARKEY: Beautiful.

Q: We know that our species is anything but rational or evidence-based when we make sense of things. And while we can ridicule taking away planes or hamburgers, we also know that people make decisions based on fear, fear of loss, and tribal identity. So how will you frame the Green New Deal not in ways that are evidence-based but in ways that work?

MARKEY: All right. I was the chairman of telecommunications in the 1990s. You know what used to drive me crazy? What used to drive me crazy is that a cellphone was the size of a brick. Gordon Gecko had one in Wall Street. It cost fifty cents a minute. It was analog. And you didn’t have one. So what I did, with Jim Slattery, right here, in 1993, I moved over two hundred megahertz for the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh cellphone license. The first two companies—the monopolies could not bid for that. The monopolies could not bid for that spectrum. Drove them crazy. They were analog, fifty cents a minute, the size of a brick. It was 1993. Well, by 1995, you all had a flip-phone in your pocket because of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh companies all deployed a flip-phone digital under ten cents a minute.

Guess what also happened? The first two companies all of a sudden could move to digital in a flip-phone within three years, because they had some competition. Darwinian paranoia-inducing competition, which they hate. They hate, because they got the government in their hip pockets. They don’t want competition. They don’t want to deploy technology. Then another kid comes along, ten years later, and he says: I’m going to put a computer with the same power as the Apollo mission computer, in your pocket. OK, that’s only ten years later. But guess what? There was some disruption, yeah. There were some operators who used to just plug phones in, you know? And you had to make a change from those old ways in which people communicated.

But five hundred million people in Africa are walking around with this right now. Has that been good for Africa? Has that been good for Asia? Well, it took the U.S. to do it. It took my bill to do it. Somebody has to invent it. Someone had to deploy it. And if we want in Africa for them to skip the same mistakes we made in fossil fuels, you have to do the same thing. You have to invent it. You have to deploy it. You have to have a plan, a Marshall Plan or some plan to say, no, we’re going to help you in these countries. Because it’s the combination of telecommunications and energy which transform economies around the world, allows them to move to the future.

So from my perspective, I already know how many skeptics we have amongst the incumbent companies. The CEO of AT&T testified in 1981, before the Telecommunications Committee, that one million people would have wireless devices in the United States by the year 2000. That’s the bold vision of the CEO of AT&T. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, his name was Al Gore. I said, we got to break these guys up. You know, this is sad, right? This is sad. Well, the same thing is true here. People have to be optimistic about who we are, what we can do. We’re America. We’re 5 percent of the world’s population. But we’re not the ordinary 5 percent. Everyone’s looking at us every day. You know, when the president says that we don’t believe in science, OK, it’s sad.

They know that we can do this. And by the way, this revolution in telecommunications is what makes possible the green grid, because you need telecommunications technologies, broadband, to bring the wind off of the ocean, off of the prairies, off of the roofs in order to have people sitting in this room right now say: Oh, I forgot to turn down the air conditioning before I left the house today. I think I’ll do it remotely. And you multiply that by ten or twenty million people every day saying that, as you create that as a culture, you’ve reduced by ten, or fifteen, or twenty, or fifty the number of coal-burning plants we need in the United States. Are we working smarter, not harder? Yes, that’s the goal.

By the way, that’s what my mother always said I was nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, is what I had to learn how to do. Work smarter not harder, idiot—(laughter)—you know? Otherwise we’re just going to donate, your father and I, your brain to Harvard Medical School—(laughter)—as a completely unused human organ, OK? So we’re supposed to stop thinking because we already have black rotary dial phones? Have you had a black rotary dial phone, you know, sit-in, people demanding that we go back to something where the cord was only six feet long, so your mother could hear every one of your conversations and you had to dial like this? Who wants to go back to the 1993 phones? Anybody here want to just go back? Well, how long did it take? A kid today who’s a twelve-year-old thinks that a 50-inch HD interactive screen is a constitutional right, along with, you know, their wireless device in their hand. She doesn’t want to go back to that era, OK? And neither does she want us to live in a world of polluting fossil fuels, and neither do they in a village in Africa, or in Asia, or in South America. We can do this. We’re America.

I’m sorry, yes. (Laughter.)

SANDALOW: Please, Sherri.

Q: Thank you, Senator Markey and David. Yes, Sherri Goodman, founder of the CNA Military Advisory Board.

MARKEY: And you were there, Sherri.

Q: Yes.

MARKEY: On day one in 2007 she brought the generals to me. Thank you.

Q: You’re welcome. And now we’ve created an international military council on climate and security to sort of take this conversation globally.

But on the Green New Deal, Senator, how do we—how do we move beyond the socialist attack to enable more of the bipartisan support of the resilience opportunity, which is clearly inherent in this discussion and in the total energy transformation of our society?

MARKEY: When you say—why don’t you expand on what you mean by “resilience opportunity?”

Q: Well, look, I mean, you know, we know that the climate threats pose existential risk from—blah, blah, we won’t go through all that. But our communities, our people—I mean, we announced at the Atlantic Council yesterday a new Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Resilience Center, with a goal of making a billion people resilient by 2030. That’s in line, in some ways, with the mobilization goal you announced, but it’s framed—

MARKEY: And why do you have to make—again, why do you have to make a billion people resilient?

Q: Because of the climate—the existential climate threat that we face.

MARKEY: OK, perfect. OK. So within fifteen years Mar-a-Lago’s going to be underway for over a hundred days a year. It’s going to be a Mar-a-Lagoon, not Mar-a-Lago. (Laughter.)

Q: (Laughs.) I love that.

MARKEY: Key West, the melting tundra in Alaska, the forest fires in California. Now, just extrapolate around the rest of the world, the Arctic now becoming a vacation spot because of the open passageways up there.

Q: Or emboldening our adversaries.

MARKEY: Excuse me?

Q: Emboldening our adversaries too.

MARKEY: Emboldening our adversaries, the Russians and others. And causing more expenditures on our part, military expenditures that we now will have to spend. By the way, they don’t—the climate deniers don’t build in repair of Camp Lejeune or Tyndall Air Force Base or building new ships to go up into the Arctic. That’s all just loaded onto the defense budget, in the supplemental budget so it doesn’t even count against the deficit. They just load it up, just a few more billion a year, who really cares? They’ll fight the tax breaks for wind and solar, though. They’ll fight the tax breaks for all-electric vehicles. They’ll fight that money, you know?

So you are right. When you’re aligned 100 percent with the insurance industry of the United States on their now high probability of the additional damages which are going to be inflicted along our coastlines, and on coastlines all around the world, and in the last two days PG&E, the electric company out in Northern California, announced that they’re now just going to turn off electricity whenever they think that there could be excessive drought or warm weather, just to avoid their liability for creating the start because the electricity is on the wires alive. So that’s where it’s all moving. And that means that the resilience of our system is being tested to be able to deal with the consequences of climate change.

So a billion dollars is just—that’s a drop in the bucket.

Q: A billion people.

MARKEY: A billion—I’m sorry—a billion people. A billion people are definitely vulnerable. They’re vulnerable in our own country, first of all. In Alaska, in Florida, but in Houston, in New Orleans, in Boston. Boston, by the way, the Gulf of Maine, that is Boston Harbor, another way of saying that, is the second-fastest warming body of water on the planet. Second-fastest warming body on the planet. Only the Arctic is warming faster. Well, what does that mean? Well, cod need cold water. It’s just—they’re just going north. Lobster need cold water. They’re just going north. It’s having a profound impact on our fishing industry. That’s another consequence.

Q: Not to mention the sharks off Cape Cod.

MAKREY: Huh? Excuse me?

Q: Not to mention the sharks off Cape Cod.

MARKEY: Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, we need to just focus. And Bangladesh is a good example. But there are many other places in the world that just don’t have the capacity. And ultimately, we’re going to be called upon, and other advanced nations, to provide funding sources for these countries so that we give them the protection which they need. Yes, ma’am.


MARKEY: Oh, I’m sorry.


Q: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Markey. Good to see you again.

MARKEY: Thank you.

SANDALOW: Introduce yourself?

Q: Kevin Book from Clearview Energy Partners.

SANDALOW: Introduce yourself?

Q: Sorry?

SANDALOW: Introduce yourself, please.

Q: Oh, sorry. Kevin Book from Clearview Energy Partners.

Senator Markey, you started out with a statement that it was a set of principles and not necessarily prescriptive—

MARKEY: I’m sorry, where do—I’m sorry. Where do you work, again?

Q: Clearview Energy Partners. Kevin Book, Clearview Energy Partners.

MARKEY: Clearview Energy? What is that?

Q: I’m a research analyst. I draw pictures and make up numbers, and sometimes they’re right. (Laughter.)

MARKEY: Uh-huh. And who do you work for? Who funds that?

Q: Our clients are a combination of financial investors and corporate strategists. We’re an independent research firm. We take no positions, except for what we think is right.

MARKEY: OK, good.

Q: My question for you is at the outset you said that the Green New Deal was a set of principles, not prescriptive. But one could not help but notice several times during your very informative discussion with Sandalow—with David Sandalow, you mentioned that tax credits were a big focus of yours. And in particular, that’s a different set of payment protocols than others that have been mentioned in other formulations of the Green New Deal, including, you know, modern monetary theory and other ways of essentially printing your way to spending. I was wondering if you could discuss maybe how you think about the paying for it side of thing and elaborate maybe a bit more on the tax credits or other financing mechanisms. Thank you.

MARKEY: OK, great. No, thank you, sir.

So here’s the way I think of it. Because of the power of the incumbent energy-producing sources, by the time you reach 2008, notwithstanding the fact that the technological breakthroughs had already occurred, here’s where we were: We had a grand total of one thousand total megawatts of solar in the United States deployed—one thousand. Now, and again the—think of a—think of that as more like a three hundred- and four hundred-megawatt nuclear power plant. So we got tax breaks on the books. President Obama was able to put in with my help and others $90 billion into the stimulus bill. And state after state started to pass renewable electricity standards.

So ten years later we now have not one thousand but sixty-five thousand megawatts of solar. In 2008, we had twenty-five thousand megawatts of wind in our country. Today we have one hundred thousand megawatts of wind. In 2008, pick a number, how many total all-electric vehicles were there in the United States in 2008? Just pick a number in your brain. Pick a number. No, you’re wrong. We had two thousand total all-electric vehicles. In 2019, there are going to be five hundred thousand sold in one year in our country. We put new tax breaks, new laws out in California and other states. So there’s a Moore’s Law in each one of these things that’s been unleashed because we created a marketplace using tax incentives, largely, and state regulation. You need policy that’s out there as well. And this is driving the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil crazy. They just—what is happening here? We had this thing all stifled up until 2008. What is happening here? And the price has collapsed on the generation side.

So from our perspective, we don’t see this as a technology problem at all. Matter of fact, if all we did was just continue to deploy at the existing rate, we would be adding 1-1 ½ percent to electrical generation in our country every single year from renewables. We finally have broken out. And by 2030, we’d be up to 30 percent, because were already up to 9 percent. We were only at 1 percent renewable generation of all electricity in ’08. We’re up to 9 percent now. But it’s adding a percent a year—1 ½ percent a year. Now, if we accelerated that to 2 percent, 2 ½ percent per year, you added in nuclear power which is 19 percent of all electrical generation, you added in the 6-7 percent, which is hydropower in our country, you’re knocking on 50 percent of the solution already in place in 2030 without even breaking a sweat. That’s without doing anything. And that’s, by the way, with Mississippi, and Louisiana, and Arkansas, all kinds of red states. I always call them the SEC states, the Southeast Conference. So if you want to have a telecommunications revolution or an energy revolution, you know your problem’s always going to be in the SEC, OK? They just don’t want to move that fast, because the public utility commission are owned—are pretty much controlled by those companies, the monopolies.

But how sad is that Massachusetts is number seven in solar deployment, and we’re beating all these states that have sunny days, like, three hundred days a year? That’s sad. So if we had a national policy, and they all had to do it, and they all were added into this mix, we’re knocking on 2 or 3 percent a year that we’re adding to the mix. And we’re just using existing policies that are made permanent, by the way—made permanent. The tax breaks for wind expire at the end of this year. You know what’s not expiring? The oil depletion allowance. That’s not expiring. That’s not—you know what else is not? Guarantees for—federal loan guarantees for nuclear power plants. That’s not expiring, OK? So it’s all so distorted, the marketplace, that once you put in place the policies, and the tax incentives, then you get a lot of this.

Now, I could go through area after area. And auto, you know, the president’s trying to roll back fuel economy standards. That’s my 2007 law. That’s the first law we put on the books, Nancy Pelosi and I working Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, and Ted Stevens, by the way. We were able to get that passed. That’s the authority, along with the California Clean Air Waiver that Obama used to increase fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Guess who’s trying to roll that back? Well, Donald Trump. Guess who asked him to do it? Marathon Oil. Well, why did Marathon Oil want Donald Trump to roll back the fuel economy standards? Because it’s an existential threat to their business model. So should we try to get to 54.5 or should we not try to get to 54.5? Should we have an all-electric vehicle revolution that’s caused by that standard, or should we not? And then should we go to sixty-five miles per gallon and seventy-five miles per gallon, or should we not? Should we just keep it at twenty-five miles per gallon which is, by the way, where we were in 2007? We were still operating under a 1975 law in 2007, twenty-five miles per gallon.

We still import three million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East, by the way. From Saudi Arabia, from Iraq. Three million barrels a day. And we got young men and women over there in the Middle East. So that is wrong. And it will fundamentally change our relationship with the Middle East when we’re signaling to them that we don’t need their oil any more than we need their sand. And the only way we do that is if we unleash our own technological power. That’s our—fossil fuels are our weakness. Technology is our strength. And if we do that, then we diminish overall the petrol—the petrol power on our planet. It distorts the decisions of democracies everywhere. And it’s about time that we used our technological genius in order to end it once and for all. And we can create a window for ourselves where we do that. Yes.

SANDALOW: Thank you, Senator. In terms of the spending under the Green New Deal how do you see that being financed? Does that support a carbon tax, support additional taxes on wealthy Americans, deficit spending, some combination of those?

MARKEY: I would first look at the way in which we financed the fossil fuel industry and the nuclear power industry. And I would use those sources first.

SANDALOW: OK. Let’s take three questions. We’re running out of time, so we’re going to go right in the front. Start with Steve—or, start here, and then Steve—

MARKEY: And I’ll give very brief answers, OK?

Q: I’ll start with Steve.

SANDALOW: Either one. No, go ahead, please. Absolutely. Yeah.

Q: Paula Stern.

SANDALOW: Hi, Paula.

Q: Thank you very much.

MARKEY: Hey, Paula.

Q: Hello. And thank you for a wonderful presentation.

When you mention technology, and new technology, and what we’re signaling from all the various regulations and taxes that are making this change, we didn’t talk about LNG and gas. And I’m wondering what—where you put the shale technological breakthroughs and the implications for our both exports and imports, which are such a preoccupation to President Trump, in your vision. Is it a bridge to renewables? Is the shale moment a bridge there? Or is this something which is really going to slow down the Green New Deal that you’re envisioning?

SANDALOW: And before you answer, let’s go to—we’ll go to two more questions—

MARKEY: Well, let me put it like this, again, the president’s plan is to shut down the green revolution—shut it down. And then say, oh, lookit, we need shale. We need LNG as a bridge. A bridge to where? A bridge to nowhere. You’re shutting down—you mean a bridge to the twentieth century, is that what you’re talking about Mr. President? A bridge to the twentieth century? No, Mr. President, we don’t need a bridge to the twentieth century. We know that if we had 30 percent, 40 percent of our—of our auto fleet all-electric by 2030, we know that if we moved to all-electric buildings, we know that if we had solar panels on the roofs of tens of millions, hundreds of millions of homes, you know, in the future, no, we don’t need your bridge, OK? That’s a bridge to the past, not to the future, OK?

So the reality is that he has basically become part and parcel of the Koch brothers—and I understand it, because it’s the major funding resource for the Republican Party. It’s the most—it’s the wealthiest industry in the country. You can take the second, third, fourth, fifth industries combined, and they still don’t equal this fossil fuel industry, right? So I know why—I know where their money comes from, and I understand why they do it, OK? And I understand why they then have to stand on the sidelines and deny science as a party, OK? So they do it, but it’s tied to the financing mechanism of their party. So and the shale revolution, LNG, it’s all part of it, OK, because it’s part and parcel of then getting their nominees for Interior. They don’t get a coal lobbyist at EPA and an oil lobbyist at Department of Interior, you know, by accident. They’re handpicked out there. Same way the Federalist Society is handpicking right-wing judges, OK? It’s all a part of their business model as a party. It’s sad, but true.

And what we need is an election in 2020 where Republicans are given some confidence that there’s a groundswell of support out there for science and for moving onto the twenty-first-century technologies. But shale is a federally developed technology, by the way. It was invented by the federal government. Let’s just go to that, in the same way many other things were. But it’s unnecessary to put your hopes on that when we can substitute another benign but still successful energy generation source for the homes, the businesses, not only of our own country but the whole planet.

Yes, sir.

Q: Thank you.

SANDALOW: We have three minutes. Two quick questions and last comment by the senator.

Q: Thank you for your inspirational presentation today. I’m Steve Charnovitz from George Washington University.

You mentioned the Marshall Plan. It seems to me the various Markey plans over the years have been at least as important perhaps—

MARKEY: Did you say the Markey plans?

Q: Yes, Markey plans.

MARKEY: Thank you.

Q: Thank you for all your great work.

All right, so you had a couple questions about financing and taxes. And I didn’t hear really good answers to those, so let me try again. You talked about tax breaks and you talked about public investment, you talked about the importance of dealing with the climate problem as an existential problem to our world. But you didn’t address the—you know, the clear proposal by economists for decades that we have a corrective to the market failure of climate change by imposing a carbon tax. What’s the hesitation to make a carbon tax part of the Green New Deal? I mean, after all, Roosevelt in his New Deal had the revenue act of ’35, other taxes, Social Security tax, unemployment tax. Why the hesitation.

MARKEY: Yeah. Well, as you know, thank you for the Markey plan. The Waxman-Markey bill which, for those of you who don’t know it, is a bill Henry Waxman and I put together in 2009. It passed the House by 219-212. It was 1,400 pages long. It dealt with every part of our economy. It was a reduction in greenhouse gases of 80 percent by the year 2050. It did pass the House. Republicans killed it in the Senate. Obama made it clear he was going to sign it. Ten years later, we would already largely have solved this whole problem if President Obama had been able to sign it, and the Republicans had not stopped it. And it was endorsed by the Edison Electric Institute, by the nuclear energy institute. It was endorsed by AFL-CIO. It was endorsed by hundreds of private-sector companies. It was not endorsed by ExxonMobil or by the Koch brothers, OK? But we would have already largely done it.

And essentially that was a cap-and-trade system which is essentially a price on carbon. It’s a way of accomplishing that goal. The point that we’re trying to achieve with the Green New Deal is to open up this debate ten years later, which is the smartest way of going. Now, there were some proposals from the private sector which say: Let’s move to a carbon price. And then I would say: How high is that price? Is it $80 a ton? Is it $100 a ton? What do you support, ExxonMobil, when you say you support a price on carbon? What is that price that you support? The price that economists say would be necessary, or is it just some nominal price over here?

And by the way, many of these companies are saying that as a part of that deal that they would want to remove the fuel economy standard law. They would want to remove the appliance efficiency standards law. Of course, those are my laws, because the reason the air conditioning in this room is twice as efficient as it was in 1987 is my law. And that eliminated the need, because it was twice as efficient, for a couple of hundred coal-burning plants ever to have to be built in the first place. Working smarter not harder. So if the price you have to pay is to eliminate all the existing laws that have been working and should be strengthened, no. No, we would want both, OK? But that would have to be the discussion. And I don’t come down on one side or the other of the specifics of it, because that’s the discussion we’re now opening. How do we accomplish that goal?

SANDALOW: Senator, I have a signal that it is time for us to stop. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your work on these issues over so many years. Please join me in giving Senator Markey a big hand. (Applause.)

MARKEY: Thank you all for your interest. Thank you all for whatever suggestions you have to solve this crisis. Thank you.


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