The "Green New Deal" proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., seeks a complete transition to "energy efficiency" and "sustainable energy" — much of which would be owned and administered by the federal government.
During an appearance on MSNBC Thursday night, Sanders told host Chris Hayes that the U.S. needed an "aggressive" federal approach to producing electricity and nodded after Hayes claimed he proposed a "federal takeover of the whole thing."
Sanders agreed with Hayes' assessment that he wanted to create a "Tennessee Valley Authority [TVA] extension for the whole country." "You can't nibble around the edges anymore," Sanders added.
The TVA is a federally owned corporation that was started in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation and a host of other services to the Tennessee Valley. The TVA's service area covers parts of seven southern states: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.
"Look, the TVA has done a lot of good work … What we need to do is have an aggressive federal government saying that we are going to produce a massive amount of energy from solar and from wind and from other sustainable energies," Sanders said.
In his climate plan, Sanders praised the TVA but indicated that it and other federal, administrative bodies didn't cover enough of the United States.
"Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations [PMAs] and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states," the plan read. "We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants."
Sanders' plan would entail the federal government massively regulating the U.S. energy supply, which he said would be "sustainable" by 2030 "at the latest."
"The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest," the plan read.
When Hayes asked Sanders how he responded to critics who balked at the program's cost, Sanders said the country couldn't "afford not to afford it" because the future of the planet was at stake.
Sanders has claimed that his $16 trillion plan would "pay for itself," something Heritage Foundation scholar Nick Loris suggested was ridiculous.
"Sanders' plan would cause energy prices to skyrocket, bankrupting families and businesses and empowering the federal government to control America’s energy economy," he said in a statement provided to Fox News. "And what would we get for it? A change in the earth's temperature that’s barely measurable. The Green New Deal isn’t a 'climate thing' at all. Turns out it’s a green-glossed Trojan horse designed to increase government control over the economy."
In addition to taking over the nation's energy supply, Sanders' plan claims to end unemployment by creating 20 million jobs, provide "massive investments in research and development" and impose fines and litigation on the fossil fuel industry.
The plan predicts that income tax revenues, penalties for fossil fuel companies, a reduced need for safety net spending, "making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share" and other policy impacts would make the program pay for itself.
"The cost of inaction is unacceptable," the plan read. "Economists estimate that if we do not take action, we will lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century. And the benefits are enormous: by taking bold and decisive action, we will save $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years, and $70.4 trillion over 80 years."
The American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry, responded to Sanders in a statement to Fox News.
"Pitting important environmental goals against working families who rely on affordable American energy is a false choice," the organization said. "While some may use attacks on natural gas and oil to energize their political base, our industry will remain focused on providing the energy that powers America’s economy and modern lifestyle, while also continuing to lower carbon emissions beyond their current generational low."