By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders unveiled a climate change plan on Monday that seeks to end the country's dependence on oil, coal and nuclear energy and could pressure party front-runner Hillary Clinton.
The Vermont senator's plan envisions 10 million new jobs in clean energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power. It would ban oil and gas lobbyists from working in the White House, end new fossil fuel lease sales on public lands, and would cut carbon emissions faster in coming decades than the goals set in President Barack Obama's clean power plan.
"It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy and finally puts people before the profits of polluters," Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, said in a statement. The plan can be seen here: https://berniesanders.com/people-before-polluters/
He released the plan as leaders from nearly 190 countries in Paris hoped to reach an agreement on curbing climate change.
Sanders is Clinton's main rival for the party's presidential nomination for the November 2016 election, and his positions have pressured the former secretary of state to move more to the left on environmental and other issues.
Clinton came out in opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, after Sanders urged her to, and shortly before Obama axed the project last month. But on wider energy and climate issues she has taken a pragmatic approach, saying she would not oppose lifting the 1970s-era U.S. ban on most oil exports, if it came with tradeoffs for clean energy, and that it would not be responsible to abruptly halt oil, gas, and coal extraction on public lands.
The Sanders plan would stop exports of U.S. natural gas and all crude oil. He is also the co-sponsor of a bill to ban future fossil fuel lease sales on public lands.
Sanders would ban mountaintop coal mining, a common practice in Appalachian states, and would invest in the area's communities. But his climate plan does not specify how much money it would invest in the region. Sanders is introducing legislation that would provide fossil fuel industry workers a benefits package, including educational opportunities, job training and healthcare, as the country transitions to clean energy.
Clinton last month proposed a $30 billion plan to help displaced workers in coal-producing states find new jobs and continue receiving health benefits.
Sanders, who is worried about the waste from nuclear plants, would also place a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)