Last week, Beto O’Rourke announced a bold, ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change and invest in our communities. This plan would mobilize $5 trillion over 10 years – spurred by the largest single investment in fighting climate change in history – and would include a legally enforceable standard to guarantee that the U.S. achieves net-zero emissions by 2050 and gets half way there by 2030.
Today, inspired by the conversations he has had across the state, Beto is unveiling additional details of his plan that highlight opportunities to partner with Iowans to combat climate change and build a more resilient and green future.
Iowans are already dealing with the impacts of pollution and climate change. Almost 55 percent live in areas with unhealthy air, and more Iowans than ever face grave risks from deadly heat days, heavy downpours, and catastrophic flooding. The recent floods alone have impacted more than 65,000 growers and 10 million acres, and changing weather patterns will have an outsized impact on Iowa’s economy, as disruptions in crop cycles ultimately impact every city and small town in the state.
That is why one of the core pillars in Beto’s plan is to ensure the U.S. Government invests in our communities that are preparing for and fighting against extreme weather. Beto will also expand federal crop insurance to cover additional risks such as threats posed to stored grains. In addition, Beto will:
Invest in Infrastructure to Protect Our Communities Against Floods
- Davenport, which lacks permanent flood infrastructure, is suffering from historic Mississippi River flooding. This is the largest river-side Iowa community without it – one reason: upfront cost.
- Communities at risk of floods and other climate-related disasters should have strong infrastructure protecting them. These can be smart investments; pre-disaster mitigation grants can pay back 6-to-1.
- As president, Beto would partner with local governments to invest in infrastructure projects for communities like Davenport and those across Southwest Iowa. These projects – like the one in Davenport that costs an estimated $174 million – would protect communities, businesses, and lives.
Beto recognizes that Iowans are leading on developing – and growing – the solutions to climate change. For example, Iowa is among the leaders in deployment of wind, and, in fact, the leader on a per capita basis. Wind is not just deployed in Iowa but the technology to harness it is manufactured here too. As president, Beto would support this effort by partnering with Iowa cities and counties to streamline siting applications that enable family farms to profit from this nation’s energy transition.
As part of his $5 trillion mobilization of capital, Beto will also fund both the deployment and research and development (R&D) of new agricultural technology breakthroughs.
Invest in Innovation to Support More Profitable and Productive Farming
- Over the last two decades, the U.S. share of global public investment in agricultural R&D fell from 22.5 to 13.4 percent – while China raced ahead in 2008 and has continued to increase its R&D.
- This lack of investment slows growth in our agricultural sector’s productivity and keeps us from fully harnessing the power of our agricultural sector leaders in growing the solutions to climate change.
- As president, Beto would increase investments in land-grant universities; create a new constellation of DARPA-style efforts, including a new ARPA-Grow focused on agriculture; catalyze partnerships with private and philanthropic capital; and seed a new, diverse generation of STEM leaders.
In the last two decades, spurred by access to technologies and markets, our farmers and ranchers have transformed the face of U.S. energy. As part of his day-one executive actions and in the first bill he sends to Congress, Beto would take steps that allow farmers and ranchers to profit from the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions they secure.
Create New Market Incentives for Carbon Farming and Other Climate Services
- Farmers and ranchers have pioneered practices like no- or reduced-till agriculture, use of cover crops, and carbon-capturing crop rotation. As president,Beto would invest in performance-based incentives – not requirements – that let farmers and ranchers decide what works best and profit from their successes.