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Dr. Robert Stone, a leader of Physicians for a National Health
Program, an organization of 16,000 physicians who advocate for
single-payer national health insurance, spoke to the Health Care Task
Force of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition on Capitol Hill Thursday.
In his remarks, Stone emphasized how single-payer health reform, as embodied in the U.S. National Health Care Act, H.R. 676, is the most fiscally responsible way of addressing the nation's health care woes.
Stone said that by replacing the for-profit, private health
insurance companies with a single-payer program aEUR" an improved
Medicare for All aEUR" the United States would save more than $400
billion in administrative costs annually. He also said that single
payer is only reform proposal that includes effective cost-containment
"In fact, the strongest argument for Medicare for All is that it
is the most efficient reform proposal with the greatest ability to
control costs" Stone said. "That is exactly why so many members of
the "medical-industrial complex" oppose such a plan, because, as
the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has said, "Remember
that what the rest of us call health care costs, they call income."
"In short, single payer is the only plan that pays for itself and
covers everyone. It's fiscally conservative and socially
responsible," Stone said.
The Blue Dog Coalition's Health Care Task Force was launched in
March at the time of President Obama's White House summit on health
care reform. It is chaired by Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, and its
members include Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Rep. John Barrow of
Georgia, Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and Rep. Baron Hill of
Indiana, among others. Like the Blue Dog caucus itself, the task force
emphasizes fiscal conservatism.
Rep. Hill helped arrange the invitation for Stone to speak to the group.
Several members of the Blue Dog caucus were co-sponsors of the single-payer bill, H.R. 676, in the 110th Congress.
Stone is the director and co-founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense
Health Plan (HCHP) and the state coordinator of Indiana for Physicians
for a National Health Program. He has been an emergency department
physician at Bloomington (Ind.) Hospital since 1983, and was the
medical director of the Community Health Access Program Clinic in
Bloomington from 2005 to 2007, until it was transformed into the
Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. He continues to volunteer at the new
clinic. He is assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at
Indiana University School of Medicine.
Born and raised in Evansville, Ind., Stone graduated from Dartmouth
College and the University of Colorado Medical School. He is a Diplomat
of the American Board of Emergency Medicine.
Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 21,000 members and chapters across the United States.
"Total employment in the nationwide U.S. energy sector could double or even triple by 2050 to meet the demand for wind turbines, solar panels, and transmission lines," according to a new study.
Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by mid-century would lead to a net increase in energy-related employment nationwide, and Republican-voting states whose leaders have done the most to disparage climate action would see the largest growth in green jobs.
That's according to research published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Energy Policy. The new study, summarized Tuesday by Carbon Brief, undercuts the old right-wing canard that environmentally friendly policies are inherently bad for workers.
Four academics led by Dartmouth College engineering professor Erin Mayfield found that shifting to a net-zero economy could create millions of jobs in low-carbon sectors—enough to "offset" losses in the declining fossil fuel industry, not only in the aggregate but also in most dirty energy-producing states, which tend to be GOP strongholds.
"Total employment in the nationwide U.S. energy sector could double or even triple by 2050 to meet the demand for wind turbines, solar panels, and transmission lines," Carbon Brief reported. Such growth in clean power generation and dissemination "would outweigh losses in most of the country's fossil fuel-rich regions, as oil, coal, and gas operations close down."
The study adds to mounting evidence that so-called "red" states now dominated by Republicans and fossil fuel interests—including particularly sunny and windy ones like Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming—stand to reap the biggest rewards from the green industrial policy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.
At the same time, the authors acknowledge that some GOP-controlled dirty energy-producing states, such as North Dakota, are likely to see net decreases in energy sector employment, and they stress that "many communities will still require help to ensure a 'just transition' away from fossil fuels," as Carbon Brief noted.
In their paper, Mayfield and her three co-authors—Jesse Jenkins, Eric Larson, and Chris Greig, all of whom work at Princeton University—estimate how energy-related employment in the U.S. would change depending on different emission reduction contexts.
To simulate "labor market pathways of large-scale, low-carbon energy-supply infrastructure development," the team developed the Decarbonization Employment and Energy Systems (DEERS) model, which combines myriad economic and energy data, and then applied it to four alternative scenarios from the 2021 Net-Zero America report they were all involved in writing.
The transition scenarios, which assume varying levels of electrification and renewable energy supply, are as follows:
The authors expect overall energy sector employment to climb in all four scenarios, although net job gains are limited under E+ RE- conditions in which the deployment of renewables is constrained.
"We find that a net-zero transition supports an annual average of approximately 3 million direct energy jobs or $200 billion in wages during the first decade, and approximately 4-8 million direct energy jobs or $200-500 billion during the 2040s," they wrote. "The modeled supply-side energy workforce represents 1.5% of the total U.S. labor force in 2020, increasing to 2.5-5% by mid-century."
As Carbon Brief reported: "The number of energy-related jobs roughly doubles in both the 'high electrification' (E+) and 'less-high electrification' (E-) scenarios, which focus on the extent to which transport and buildings are electrified by 2050. The largest growth is seen in the E + RE+ scenario, which features high electrification and a 100% renewable power system by 2050."
"Notably, the research finds that many fossil fuel jobs would have been lost even in the absence of new climate policy," the outlet noted. "It suggests there would be a drop of one-third by 2050, as coal and gas are driven out of the market by cheaper wind and solar."
According to Mayfield and her colleagues, "In most states, job losses in declining fossil fuel sectors are offset by an increasing number of energy jobs in low-carbon sectors."
Carbon Brief observed that "this is particularly evident in Republican-voting states, which have larger energy workforces. In the E+ scenario, these states would lose around 700,000 fossil fuel jobs but gain 1.7 million low-carbon energy jobs between 2025 and 2050."
The outlet created a chart to visualize the paper's projection of rising energy-related employment under the E+ scenario in "red" states that voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 and "blue" states that backed Biden.
In their paper, Mayfield and her colleagues cite the example of Texas, a GOP stronghold that is simultaneously the nation's top fossil fuel-producing state and its top generator of electricity from wind and solar.
As Carbon Brief pointed out:
By 2025 in the E+ scenario, around 480,000 of the state's 660,000-strong energy workforce are employed in the fossil fuel sector, more than 72% of the total. Within 25 years, many of these jobs would be lost as the number of fossil fuel employees falls to 123,000.
Yet the state would still see a big uptick in energy sector employment by 2050. The modeling suggests Texas would have around 778,000 energy jobs in 2050, with around 84% employed in low-carbon industries.
Despite this, Inside Climate News reported last month that Texas Republicans recently introduced legislation "intended to punish renewable energy and boost fossil fuels, including a measure that would increase the amount of gas-fired electricity generated by the state by upwards of 10 gigawatts and one that would limit the development of renewable energy in the state based on how much natural gas generation is also being built."
For decades, Republicans have couched their opposition to climate policies in the language of protecting the jobs of fossil fuel workers. In many cases, GOP candidates perceived to be defending the interests of dirty energy-producing communities have been rewarded by voters in those localities.
While Trump's stated support for coal workers benefited him politically in 2016, employment in the sector still fell by a quarter during his reign. Biden, by contrast, has made clear that "creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand."
Evidence is growing that the clean energy transition is poised to be a major job-creator rather than a job-killer as suggested by right-wing lawmakers.
It remains to be seen whether the political allegiances of fossil fuel workers—who have previously expressed interest in moving into the green sector—will change to reflect the fact that Democrats, not Republicans, are most aggressively fighting to boost energy sector employment.
Of course, there are other important factors to consider in addition to the quantity of low-carbon jobs created, as the authors of the paper acknowledge. The quality of green sector work—whether it is unionized and high-paying, for instance, or precarious and poorly remunerated—will play a large role in determining public support for the shift to renewables.
"We shouldn't compromise on protecting our most vulnerable and disproportionately impacted communities," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
The number of Democratic lawmakers who said they plan to oppose legislation to raise the debt ceiling steadily grew on Wednesday, due to provisions that would slash food assistance, require approval of a gas pipeline that would cause the equivalent of more than 89 million metric tons of carbon emissions, and end the federal moratorium on student loan payments—all while maintaining hundreds of billions of dollars in Pentagon spending and low taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
Ahead of a vote in the U.S. House that's expected Wednesday evening, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), told reporters that she plans to vote no on the so-called Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, and that the caucus at-large may also actively oppose the legislation.
An internal count on Wednesday showed that "the majority of our members" oppose the bill, she said.
Jayapal said that progressives in the House object both to the Republican Party's tactic of threatening a default on the United States' debt—which could send the U.S. and global economies into turmoil—in order to secure concessions from Democrats, and the policies that were included in the bill as a result of that approach, such as new work requirements for programs that serve low-income households.
"We should have raised the debt ceiling long ago with no strings attached," said Jayapal.
\u201cLet\u2019s remember that this is a crisis manufactured by extreme MAGA Republicans. We should have raised the debt ceiling long ago with no strings attached, but they insisted on cutting assistance for hungry people to keep cash flowing to the wealthiest.\u201d— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@Rep. Pramila Jayapal) 1685549762
Jayapal was among the progressives stating their opposition in the hours before lawmakers voted 241-187 in favor of the rule governing debate on the bill, with more than 50 Democrats joining Republicans to clear the procedural hurdle.
The CPC chair's comments followed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) statement of opposition last week, when she told The Hill, "My red line has already been surpassed."
"I mean, where do we start? [No] clean debt ceiling. Work requirements. Cuts to programs. I would never—I would never—vote for that," said Ocasio-Cortez.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said Congress has until June 5 to raise to nation's arbitrary debt limit. While lawmakers have increased or suspended the debt ceiling 78 times before, mostly under Republican presidents, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has refused to do so without major spending cuts.
"House Republicans raised the debt ceiling with no preconditions three times under the Trump administration, and yet, [House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)], at the urging of his extremist members, manufactured an economic crisis and threatened default to impose a partisan agenda," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). "The hypocrisy reeks."
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) also confirmed Wednesday afternoon that she will vote no on the debt ceiling legislation, noting that she filed an amendment that would have eliminated from the bill the expansion of work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—but the Republican House leadership refused to allow a vote on the proposal.
\u201cMy amendment would\u2019ve kept the exemptions for veterans, the unhoused, and foster youth, AND would've removed new work requirements that will force others into hunger.\n\nThe GOP refused to allow a vote on it.\n\nThey want to take food from the mouths of vulnerable communities.\u201d— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@Congresswoman Cori Bush) 1685553780
"We need to break away from the vicious, nonsensical cycle where Republicans get to hold our economy hostage every few years," said Bush.
Confirming his plan to vote no, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) cited the bill's provisions for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a $6.6 billion project that's been held up in legal battles over its threats to drinking water and public health. The bill requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve all remaining permits for the pipeline, which would carry gas from West Virginia across nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands to Virginia.
"Of everything in the debt ceiling agreement, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is the hardest to justify to future generations," said Khanna. "We are facing a climate crisis; locking us into fossil fuel dependency is a big step in the wrong direction."
Grijalva said he would not support Republicans' "reckless hostage-taking" and rejected the party's demand that Democrats "choose between economic catastrophe or a healthy planet."
"We shouldn't compromise on protecting our most vulnerable and disproportionately impacted communities," said Grijalva, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. "I'm drawing a red line in the sand against devastating cuts that impact the health and well-being of my constituents and the communities I represent. It's time House Republicans stopped the gamesmanship. The American people deserve better."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the first senator to say that if the legislation comes up for a vote in the upper chamber, he will vote against it.
"The best thing to be said about the current deal on the debt ceiling is that it could have been much worse. Instead of making massive cuts to healthcare, education, childcare, nutrition assistance, and other vital programs over the next decade, this bill proposes to make modest cuts to these programs over a two-year period," said Sanders. "Having said that, I cannot vote for this bill."
"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a bill that takes vital nutrition assistance away from women, infants, children, and seniors, while refusing to ask billionaires who have never had it so good to pay a penny more in taxes," he continued. "At a time when climate change is, by far, the most existential threat facing our country and the entire world I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a bill that makes it easier for fossil fuel companies to pollute and destroy the planet by fast-tracking the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline."
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that he is supporting the legislation "without hesitation or reservation or trepidation," but the message to Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting was, "Do what you think is right," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Axios.
Republicans including Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Chip Roy (R-Texas) have indicated they will vote against the bill.
A senior House Democrat toldAxios that McCarthy will likely need to "solicit [Democrats'] support and offer a sweetener to get them" in order to pass the bill.
"Piping water into the sea is an outrage," said one Japanese fisher angered by the plan to release radioactive wastewater into the ocean. "The sea is not a garbage dump."
Critics of a Japanese plan to release filtered radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean intensified their opposition to the proposal on Wednesday after the United Nations agency responsible for promoting nuclear energy said the company that operated the plant has adequately demonstrated its ability to measure the water's radioactivity.
The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week released a report that found the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)—the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that was catastrophically damaged during a 2011 meltdown in three reactors caused by an earthquake and tsunami—"has demonstrated its capabilities for accurate and precise measurements of the radionuclides present in the treated water stored on site."
While proponents of the Japanese government's 2021 proposal to gradually release more than 1 million metric tons of filtered Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific view the IAEA's latest findings as a milestone on the road toward realizing the plan, opponents renewed their calls to keep the radioactive water out of the ocean.
"It's applying a 19th-century 'dilution is the solution to pollution' approach to a problem that really should be dealt with in a much more modern way."
"Piping water into the sea is an outrage. The sea is not a garbage dump," 71-year-old Haruo Ono, who has been fishing off the coast of Fukushima his entire life, toldCBS News. "The company says it's safe, but the consequences could catch up with us 50 years down the road."
Kinzaburo Shiga, a 77-year-old, third-generation fisher from Fukushima, toldCNN the government's plan makes his "blood boil."
"I know that the government has decided to go ahead with the policy of releasing treated wastewater into the sea, but for us fishers, it really feels like they made this decision without our full consent," he said.
\u201c12 years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is set to gradually release tons of filtered wastewater from the nuclear plant.\n\n@MarcReporting speaks to fishermen who fear that the move will undermine consumer confidence in their catches.\n\nRead more: https://t.co/07TCL0lmMs\u201d— CNN International PR (@CNN International PR) 1681912354
Fears of radioactive contamination from the planned wastewater release have prompted protests from the governments of China, South Korea, some Pacific island nations, and international environmental groups like Greenpeace, which argues the proposal violates international law.
"Continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable," Henry Puna, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum intergovernmental group, wrote earlier this year. "I fear that, if left unchecked, the region will once again be headed towards a major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others."
Lee Jae-myung, a South Korean opposition lawmaker from the centrist Democratic Party, said earlier this month that "Japan is putting forward claims that the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, if treated, is safe enough to drink."
"If it is safe enough to drink, they should use it as drinking water," he added.
Last week, a team of 21 South Korean nuclear experts visited the Fukushima site to inspect equipment and facilities that would be used during the proposed wastewater release.
\u201cS. Korea's Fukushima inspection team says "further analysis" needed to verify wastewater's safety\n\nhttps://t.co/kfnhWunNhG \n\n#Fukushima_inspection #Fukushima_nuclear_power_plant #YooGukhee #radioactive_water #\uc720\uad6d\ud76c #\ud6c4\ucfe0\uc2dc\ub9c8_\uc6d0\uc790\ub825\ubc1c\uc804\uc18c #\uc624\uc5fc\uc218\uc2dc\ucc30\ub2e8 #Arirang_News #\uc544\ub9ac\ub791\ub274\uc2a4\u201d— Arirang News (@Arirang News) 1685510269
"This visit has made significant progress in the process of scientific and technological review through direct on-site confirmation and more detailed data acquisition, but additional analysis and confirmation work is planned for more precise judgment," said Yoo Gook-hee, head of the inspection team, according to World Nuclear News. "Based on this, we plan to comprehensively evaluate Japan's plans for Fukushima-related water pollution and disclose the results."
The Korea Heraldreported Wednesday that the team of experts would conduct an additional review.
The wastewater release plan has also sparked popular protests in South Korea, where 85% of people oppose the proposal, according to a survey released last week by the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements.
\u201cA new study by @kfem found that 8 out of 10 Koreans oppose the Japanese government\u2019s plan to discharge contaminated water from the #Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. https://t.co/fUYRLzTnN9\u201d— FoE Asia Pacific (@FoE Asia Pacific) 1685464829
"The Pacific Ocean is not some dump where contaminated water from Fukushima can be deposited. Japan must comply with [United Nations] conventions and the U.N.'s vision of protecting the oceans," a coalition of South Korean activists said in a statement ahead of a May 22 demonstration in Seoul's Gwanghwamun Plaza, according toThe Hankyoreh.
"Since the Pacific is the largest ocean in the world, pollution in the Pacific would soon spread to every ocean in the world," the activists added.
Common Dreamsreported in 2012 that fish contaminated with radioactive cesium from Fukushima were found off the California coast months after the disaster.
Nuclear and public health experts have also weighed in against dumping radioactive wastewater into the ocean, even as others argued the plan poses "zero risk to human life."
\u201cWhat will happen when a million tons of Fukushima's nuclear wastewater is released into the ocean? \n\nJapan's government says there's no risk, but local fishermen and environmentalists are concerned.\u201d— DW News (@DW News) 1678507609
Tilman Ruff, an Australian infectious diseases and public health physician who co-founded of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said during a Friday Australian Broadcasting Corporationinterviewthat dumping Fukushima water into the Pacific would be "a really unfortunate regressive step."
"It's applying a 19th-century 'dilution is the solution to pollution' approach to a problem that really should be dealt with in a much more modern way," he continued. "They haven't really considered adequate alternatives to store this water to use it in ways that don't have long-term transboundary and transgenerational impacts across the Pacific."
Ruff said the best course of action would be to "clean the water as best you can, then use it in concrete for structural applications like building foundations, bridges, under roads, where it's not gonna have a lot of contact with people, and where some of the important radioactive releases… will be trapped in the concrete, where it's much safer."
"There are also options of long-term storage, because radioactive materials decay over time," he added.
\u201c'Tilman Ruff says the danger is that dumping the contaminated water could settle on the sea floor or concentrate up the food chain.'\n\n#Fukushima #nuclear #nuclearenergy\nhttps://t.co/4inM9q5LU2\u201d— Dr Paul Dorfman (@Dr Paul Dorfman) 1685265051
Marcos Orellana, the United Nations special rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, toldAl Jazeera earlier this month that he does not believe the IAEA is the neutral body it claims to be.
"The IAEA has a mandate to accelerate and enlarge peaceful atomic energy," he said. "Why would the IAEA, on the same day that Japan announced its decision to discharge the contaminated water... come out publicly in support of Japan?"
"How this impacts the food chain, how this impacts human health, this is not at all clear," Orellana added. "Alternatives are expensive, but even more expensive is the cost of contaminating the Pacific Ocean for hundreds of years with radioactive substances."