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Bernie Sanders puts forward ambitious plan to combat climate change

Bernie Sanders speaks at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, Colo., in mid-October. (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera via AP)

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday released a highly ambitious plan to combat climate change, a problem he pointedly says is being perpetuated by the “billionaire fossil fuel lobby.”

The plan, which reads like an environmentalist’s wish list, seeks to reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 and by more than 80 percent by 2050 by putting a tax on carbon, repealing fossil fuel subsidies and making what Sanders describes as “massive” investments in clean energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Sanders (Vt.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination in a race against Hillary Clinton, says his plan would also create 10 million jobs as the country transitions toward a nuclear-free clean energy system for electricity, heating and transportation and that it would decrease the United State’s dependence on foreign oil.

The Vermont senator calls climate change “the single greatest threat facing our planet” and takes the fossil fuel industry to task for stymieing progress on addressing it. In the document, he compares the industry’s efforts to that of the tobacco lobby denying that cigarettes cause cancer.

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“Instead of engaging on this issue in good faith and allow democracy to play out, executives and lobbyists for coal, oil and gas companies have blocked every attempt to make progress on climate change and thrown unprecedented amounts of money at elected officials to buy their loyalty,” Sanders says in his plan, which also makes the case for campaign finance and lobbying reform.

The release of Sanders’s climate change plan follows closely on the heels of a detailed proposal on immigration, which Sanders is scheduled to highlight in a live-streamed event Monday afternoon from Washington. The plans offer a window into the policy aspirations of the self-described democratic socialist candidate.

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Among other things, Sanders would ban Arctic oil drilling, ban offshore oil drilling, ban fracking for natural gas, stop exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil and put a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States.

Sanders also proposes hefty investments in several clean energy sources, including solar. He seeks to increase fuel economy standards for automobiles, build electric vehicle charging stations, invest in a “state-of-the-art” rail system and make U.S. cities more walkable.

The release of his plan Monday was accompanied by accolades from several leading environmentalists, including Bill McKibben, co-founder of the organization

Bernie has shown with years of committed action that he will not just talk about this stuff on the campaign trail, he will do it in the Oval Office,” McKibben said in a statement released by Sanders’s campaign.