PART 2 OF 3
Welfare: A Commitment to Ending Poverty
The health of the planet is inseparably bound to the health of our human communities. Greens understand that an unjust society is an unsustainable society. When communities are stressed by poverty, violence and despair, our ability to meet the challenges of the post-industrial age are critically impaired. A holistic, future-focused perspective on how we distribute resources in this country will consider the effects of such distribution not just on our present needs, but on the seventh generation to come.
The ones who suffer most from economic injustice are children - those who will inherit the social and environmental problems of the 20th century, and who will carry the responsibility of sustaining our society into the next millennium. Ensuring that children and their caregivers have access to an adequate, secure standard of living should form the cornerstone of our economic priorities.
It is time for a RADICAL PARADIGM SHIFT in our attitude toward support for families, children, the poor and the disabled. Such support must not be given grudgingly; it is the right of those in present need and AN INVESTMENT IN OUR FUTURE. We must take an uncompromising position that the care and nurture of children, elders and the disabled are essential to a healthy, peaceful and sustainable society. We should recognize that the work of their caregivers is of social and economic value, and reward it accordingly. Only then can we hope to build our future on a foundation of healthy, educated children who are raised in an atmosphere of love and security.
1. We believe that all people have a right to food, housing, medical care, a living wage job, education, and support in times of hardship.
2. We believe that work performed outside the monetary system has inherent social and economic value, and is essential to a healthy, sustainable economy and peaceful communities. Such work includes, but is not limited to: child and elder care; homemaking; voluntary community service; continuing education; participating in government; and the arts.
3. We call for restoration of a federally funded entitlement program to support children, families, the unemployed, elderly and disabled, with no time limit on benefits. This program should be funded through the existing welfare budget, reductions in military spending and corporate subsidies, and a fair progressive income tax.
4. We call for a graduated supplemental income, or negative income tax, that would maintain all individual adult incomes above the poverty level, regardless of employment or marital status.
5. We advocate reinvesting a significant portion of the military budget in family support, living wage job development, and work training programs. Publicly funded work training and education programs should have a goal of increasing people’s employment options at living wage jobs.
6. We support public funding for the development of living wage jobs in community and environmental service, for example, environmental clean-up, recycling, sustainable agriculture and food production, sustainable forest management, repair and maintenance of public facilities, neighborhood-based public safety, aids in schools, libraries and childcare centers, and construction and renovation of energy-efficient housing. We oppose enterprise zone ‘give aways’ which benefit corporations more than inner city communities
7. The accumulation of individual wealth in the U.S. has reached grossly unbalanced proportions. It is clear that we cannot rely on the rich to regulate their profit-making excesses for the good of society through “trickle-down economics”. We must take aggressive steps to restore a FAIR DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME. We support tax incentives for businesses that apply fair employee wage distributions standards, and income tax policies that restrict the accumulation of excessive individual wealth.
8. Forcing welfare recipients to accept jobs that pay wages below a livable income (“a living wage”) drives wages down and exploits workers for private profit at public expense. We reject “workfare” as a form a slave labor.
9. Corporations receiving public subsidies must provide livable wage jobs, observe basic workers rights, and agree to affirmative action policies.of such distribution not just on our present needs, but on the seventh generation to come.
D. TAX JUSTICE / FAIRNESS
Middle-class and poor people are paying an ever greater proportion of federal taxes, and too often local and state taxes are unfair and regressive. The tax code is a labyrinth of deductions, loopholes, exemptions and write-offs, the result of insider- and industry-lobbying that has damaged our economy as it has served the interests of big business and financial institutions.
1. We call for SYSTEM-WIDE TAX REFORM that acts to simplify the tax system.
2. Subsidies, export incentives, tax loopholes and tax shelters that benefit large corporations now amount to hundreds of billions of dollars each year and must be cut to the bone.
The high price of corporate welfare corrupts the political process by encouraging the exchange of political favors for campaign donations. Corporate tax breaks are ultimately paid for by higher taxes on the middle class; they distort the rules of the marketplace and seldom serve a larger public purpose.
We call for a tax policy that moves to eliminate loopholes and other exemptions that favor powerful interests over TAX JUSTICE. Small business, in particular, should not be penalized by a tax system which benefits those who can “work” the legislative tax committees for breaks and subsidies.
3. We support substantive and wide-ranging reform of the tax system that helps create jobs, economic efficiencies and innovation within the small business community.
4. We believe fiscal and tax policies should confront and end destructive “corporate welfare” and subsidies. Smaller businesses are America’s great strength. Greens believe government should have a tax policy that encourages small- and socially responsible business.
5. Where corporations act with corporate citizenship, that is, with “fiduciary responsibility” that includes the interests of their community and employees as well as shareholders, we support appropriate tax incentives.
6. We call on new approaches to taxation, such as ENVIRONMENTAL TAXES as a partial substitute for income taxes. Taxing industrial pollution is an idea long overdue. Environmental taxes of this type, and “true-cost pricing,” will aid in transforming major industries from being non-sustainable in their use of natural resources to being sustainable in character.
7. We believe that we must take a closer look at the costs and benefits of consumption and VALUE-ADDED TAX approaches.
8. We do not support a FLAT TAX, but agree that the host of deductions and adjustments to income, dividends and miscellaneous revenue afforded under the current system to those at the top produces cynicism on the part of most Americans toward their tax system and government.
9. We would raise corporate taxes. The corporate share of taxes has fallen from 33% in the 1940s to 15% today, while the individual share has risen from 44% to 73%, according to the Alliance for Democracy.
10. Greens support progressivity in taxation as a matter of principle, believing that those who benefit most from the system have a responsibility to return more, their “fair share.”
11. We believe a central goal of tax policy should be “transparency” – that is, a system that is simple, understandable, and resistant to the machinations of special interests.
12. The Green Party opposes the “privatization” of Social Security. The Social Security trust fund, contrary to claims being made by Republican and Democrat candidates, is not about to “go broke” and does not need to be “fixed” by Wall Street. The alleged demise of Social Security benefits is based on what economist and former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich has called “the wildly pessimistic assumption” that the economy will grow only 1.8% annually over the next three decades. At a more realistic 2.4% a year, Reich points out (what the current White House budget predicts for the next five years), “the fund is flush for the next 75 years.”
Considering that the bottom 20% of American senior citizens get roughly 80% of their income from Social Security, and that without Social Security nearly 70% of black elderly and 60% of Latino elderly households would be in poverty, it is critical that the public protections of Social Security are not privatized and subjected to increased risk based on misleading projections of shortfalls.
E. MANAGEMENT-LABOR RELATIONS
1. In the PRIVATE SECTOR, we acknowledge the many challenges responsible SMALL BUSINESS must overcome to remain competitive with big business, and we support addressing these obstacles by creating cooperative relationships and effective communication in the workplace.
2. The concepts of ECONOMIC AND WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY must be expanded in management-labor negotiations because the decisions a company makes affects its employees, its consumers, and the surrounding communities. In order to protect the legitimate interests of these various constituencies, as well as the natural environment, people in each of these groups must be empowered to participate in economic decision-making.
3. There should be no compromise of basic WORKER RIGHTS.
4. We support a fair MINIMUM WAGE, which, adjusted for inflation, is still well below the purchasing power it had throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
5. We endorse federal legislation to address problems associated with large plant closings; WORKPLACE SAFETY and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reform; and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) reform.
6. We particularly support substantive reforms toward “workplace democracy” in large corporations, especially reform that impacts socially and environmentally irresponsible big business.
7. We endorse legal rights to organize and join unions with democratically elected leadership.
8. We encourage the use of mediation as a tool for resolving disputes in the workplace.
9. We support the right to strike without being “permanently replaced.”
10. We support employee stock ownership plans (ESOP’s) with functioning, democratic structures; and cooperative ownership and management.
11. In the PUBLIC SECTOR, Greens are concerned with an employee’s right to join a union, and with associated COLLECTIVE BARGAINING rights.
12. “Good” government demands effective and efficient management, that is, wisely spending the people’s hard-earned tax dollars. We support initiatives between management and labor that produce “better” government through performance, productivity and accountability.
13. We believe government is truly the “people’s business” and serious reform proposals should be given close attention.
F. CRIMINAL JUSTICE
1. A plan to revitalize our economy must be a central element of any overall plan to reduce crime. Fear of violent crime is growing and it is our belief that the breaking of the bonds of community, the economic and social root causes of crime, must be addressed in the same way politicians today propose putting more firepower on the streets; threatening criminals with harsher sentences (“three strikes and you’re out”); and building more prisons.
2. The advent of a “prison industrial complex” in the United States has become a national disgrace. The Green Party raises a united voice in opposition to the terrible inequities within the criminal justice system, the systemic injustice and prejudice, the lack of adequate legal representation for the poor and under privileged, the gross punishments mandated under punitive sentencing laws that fill the jails, prisons and penitentiaries with non-violent offenders.
3. The Green Party opposes privatizing of prisons.
4. Any attempt to combat crime must begin with restoration of community; positive approaches that build hope, responsibility and a sense of belonging.
5. Young men and women must have access to work that pays a family a living wage.
6. We would initiate social programs that are alternatives to gangs, such as “Gang Intervention Units.” Practical education with a real promise of a future is needed if we are to expect long-term success in this struggle, especially against street crime and hard drug trafficking.
7. We encourage our political leaders to remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With the costs of maintaining a prisoner far outstripping the costs of educating a child, or the costs of providing job training, or job creation incentives, or providing adequate social services and a “social net” to those in need, we believe it is only appropriate to focus on where our societal intervention can be most successful and effective.
8. At the same time, we must develop law enforcement approaches that are firm and directly address VIOLENT CRIME, street crime, and trafficking in hard drugs. Violence that creates a climate of further violence must be stopped.
9. While toughening penalties for violent crimes, it is inappropriate to have a de facto policy of leniency to “WHITE COLLAR CRIME.” We believe broad corporate crime legislation should be enacted and enforced. We support efforts that target the worst cases of corporate (and governmental and defense industry) illegality, and we support resultant sentencing (and fines) that acts “with teeth” as an effective deterrent.
10. We recommend establishing effective, independent CIVILIAN REVIEW of complaints of police misconduct.
11. We support the ‘Brady Bill’ and thoughtful, carefully considered GUN CONTROL.
12. We endorse PRISON EDUCATION and JOB TRAINING.
13. We support innovative approaches to rehabilitation, and transitioning of non-violent criminals back into their communities.
14. We do not support, as a matter of conscience, the DEATH PENALTY.
15. We support JUDICIAL REFORM that opens up the court system, makes it affordable and convenient to ordinary citizens, and provides for more efficient administration of justice.
16. We support tough DWI laws.
17. We call for consistent policy of protection against VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS.
18. We endorse federal funding for RAPE CRISIS CENTERS and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTERS. We call for rape and domestic violence prevention and education programs and stiffer sentences for people convicted of domestic violence.
19. VICTIMS’ RIGHTS must be guarded and protected. Victim-impact statements are appropriate vehicles for achieving full justice, and restitution should be considered in many cases to ensure victims will not be lost in the complexities of criminal justice.
20. We support decriminalization of “VICTIMLESS” CRIMES, for example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
21. We call for legalization of industrial hemp and all its many uses.
22. We oppose the illicit activities of the international drug trade and the illicit money laundering that often accompanies the drug cartels. We call for a revised view of the “drug problem” and an end to the “war on drugs,” recognizing that after over a decade of strident law-and-order posturing, the problems with hard drugs have only worsened.
23. We call for expanding drug counseling and treatment for those who need it.
24. We believe mandatory drug testing violates civil rights; therefore, we oppose mandatory testing.
25. We favor innovative sentencing and punishment options, including community service for first-time offenders and “Drug Court” diversion programs. We support alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes (i.e. community service) and guaranteed education within prison – G.E.D. courses and college courses as well as skill training and dispute resolution.
G. CIVIL AND EQUAL RIGHTS
The foundation of any democratic society is the guarantee that each member of society has equal rights. Respect for our constitutionally protected rights is our best defense against discrimination and the abuse of power. We should treasure and celebrate our people’s differences and diversity.
We recognize an intimate connection between our RIGHTS as individuals and our RESPONSIBILITIES to our neighbors and the planet. The balance between rights and responsibilities is found as we provide for the maximum participation of everyone in the decisions affecting our well-being, our economic security, our social and international policies.
1. As Greens, we uphold the key value of respect for diversity. We recognize that the development of the United States has been marked by conflict over questions of race. Just as we acknowledge that our Nation was formed only after Native Americans were first displaced, we also acknowledge that the institution of slavery had as its underpinnings the ideology and practice of white supremacy, which we as Greens condemn. We know that, in slavery's aftermath, discrimination and racial violence against people of color continues to be a social problem of paramount significance, even today. We condemn discrimination and violence against anyone but also recognize that people of color have borne the brunt of racial violence and discrimination throughout the history of the United States.
a.) Therefore, we call for an end to official support for any remaining badges and indicia of slavery and specifically call for the immediate removal of the Confederate battle flag from any and all government buildings because we recognize that, to many, this remains a painful reminder of second-class status on the basis of race.
b.) In addition, we support efforts to overcome the aftereffects of over 200 years of discrimination and, hence, support affirmative action.
c.) Furthermore, we recognize that people of color have legitimate claims in this country to reparations in the form of monetary compensation for these centuries of discrimination. We also uphold the right of the descendants of the African slaves to self-determination, as we do for all indigenous peoples.
2. We, as Greens, are committed to establishing relationships that honor diversity; that support the self-definition and SELF-DETERMINATION of all people; and that consciously confront the barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, class oppression, ageism, and the many ways our culture separates us from working together to define and solve our common problems.
3. We affirm the right to openly embrace SEXUAL ORIENTATION in the intimate choice of who we love.
4. We support the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in housing, jobs, civil marriage and benefits, child custody – and in all areas of life, the right to be treated equally with all other people.
5. We affirm the right to worship or not to worship as each one chooses.
6. We support affirmative action to remedy discrimination, to protect constitutional rights and to provide equal opportunity under the law.
7. The Green Party abhors punitive discrimination in any form, and thus condemns the practice of those law enforcement agencies in the country which are guilty of discriminatory “racial profiling,” stopping motorists, harassing individuals, or using unwarranted violence against suspects with no other justification than race or ethnic background.
8. We also favor strong measures to combat official racism in the forms of police brutality and racial profiling directed against people of color. We agree with groups such as Amnesty International, which has recently said that police brutality has reached epidemic levels in the United States and we call for effective monitoring of police agencies to eliminate police brutality and racial profiling.
9. We support effective enforcement of the “VOTING RIGHTS ACT,” including language access to voting.
10. We will resist discriminatory English-only pressure groups. We call for a national language policy that would encourage all citizens to be fluent in at least two languages.
11. We strongly support the vigorous enforcement of CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS, the aggressive prosecution of hate crimes, and the strengthening of legal services for the poor.
12. We support the full enforcement of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” to enable all people with disabilities to achieve independence and function at the highest possible level. Government should work to ensure that children with disabilities are provided with the same educational opportunities as those without disabilities.
13. WOMEN’S RIGHTS must be protected and expanded to guarantee each woman’s right to be a full participant in society, free from sexual harassment, job discrimination or interference in the intensely personal choice about whether to have a child.
14. We support the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.
15. The EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION (EEOC) should actively investigate and prosecute sexual harassment complaints. Women who file complaints must not be persecuted and should be protected under federal and state law. We must enshrine in law the basic principle that women have the same rights as men, and promote gender equality and fairness in the work force to ensure women receive equal pay for jobs of equal worth.
16. Consumers have the right to adequate enforcement of the federal and state CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS. Health and safety is paramount and we oppose lax or inappropriate regulatory actions.
17. Consumers have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives and protect their interests beyond simply voting on election day. We support the creation of CONSUMER ADVOCACY AGENCIES (for example, along the model of the Illinois Citizen Utility Board) to protect the interests of consumers against the corporate lobbyists who have essentially (and too often successfully) argued against the rights of consumers before the regulatory agencies. We would require that legal monopolies and regulated industries (for example, electric, gas, water, and telephone utilities) set-up statewide CONSUMER ACTION GROUPS to act on behalf of and advocate for consumer interests.
18. We call for consumer legislation to outlaw the use of animals in cosmetics and household product testing; in tobacco and alcohol testing; and in weapons development or other military programs.
19. We call for reforms to better inform consumers about the products they are buying; and where and how they are made. We endorse “truth in advertising,” including the clear definition of words like “recycled” and “natural.”
20. We call for the restoration of consumers’ rights to file class actions suits against manufacturers of unsafe products and restrictions on secrecy agreements that act to prevent lawsuits by not revealing damaging information.
21. We support “whistleblower rights” laws.
22. We support a citizen’s right of access to justice. Our system of justice must be made convenient to rich and poor alike, guarding it against big business attempts to regulate and, in effect, control our civil justice/civil jury system.
23. Recently proposed bills that encroach on civil liberties, such as the Crime Bill of ’96 and the Terrorist Bill of ’97, as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which circumvents the 4th Amendment and opens the door for CIA to spy domestically on U.S. citizens, are of special concern to the Green Party. The Bill of Rights must remain a fundamental touchstone in defense of our civil rights.
H. FREE SPEECH
As we look to the foundation of our freedoms, it should be remembered that the Constitution of the United States is not only “the supreme law of the land” but is also the original source of other laws. In Article I, the Constitution spells out the “legislative powers” that are vested in Congress, which ultimately affect the personal and business lives of us all. In the Bill of Rights, the Constitution sets forth the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people, rights and freedoms that cannot be denied or abridged by Congress, or by any other branch or level of government.
An informed electorate is critical to good government. The scope of the First Amendment is extensive and prohibits any law which would abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press, most clearly in reference to political matters. Our legal right to criticize government is essential to the effective working of democracy.
1. We support openness in government, not secrecy, and endorse the “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT” (FOIA) as a way of guaranteeing access to government decision-making.
2. We recognize that access to information has profound consequences to our democracy, and we have concerns regarding the concentration of information in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations. The FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) must promulgate telecommunications policies that ensure the First Amendment rights of viewers and listeners. New and existing technologies must provide outlets for scientific and cultural expression and enhance the electoral process. The “affordable access” and “universal access” provisions of the “Telecommunications Act of 1996” should be interpreted by the FCC for what they are – a clear mandate for the telecommunications industry to make advanced communications systems affordable and equitably available to all American schools and libraries.
3. As Greens, we support those who urge the public to “reclaim the public airwaves.” The privatization of the broadcast airwaves – one of our most important taxpayer assets – has caused serious deformations of our politics and culture. The basic problem is that private broadcasters control what the public owns. And in return for free licenses to use taxpayer property, broadcasters give us a steady stream of increasingly coarse, redundant, superficial programming and, of course, exclusively decide who says what on our public airwaves.
4. The Green Party supports “community radio,” particularly those rulemaking petitions before the F.C.C., which allow for a new service of small, locally-owned FM stations.
5. The concentration of power that has characterized the telecommunications industry must be limited. A wide span of programming and information, genuine citizen access, diversity of views, respect for local community interests, news, public affairs and “QUALITY CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING” – the FCC should closely monitor applications for license renewals to the public airwaves to ensure that these public interest criteria are met.
6. Although we see regular assaults on the freedoms of speech enshrined in our nation’s founding documents, we oppose censorship in the arts, media (including the World Wide Web and Internet), and press. We encourage individual and social responsibility by artists, creative media, writers – and all citizens.
I. NATIVE AMERICANS
Native American culture is worthy of protection and special respect. As Greens we feel a special affinity to the respect for community and the Earth that many Native peoples have at their roots.
1. We recognize both the SOVEREIGNTY of Native American tribal governments and the government’s trust obligation to Native American people.
2. The federal government must renew its obligation to deal in good faith with Native Americans; to honor its treaty obligations; adequately fund programs for the betterment of tribal governments and their people; affirm the RELIGIOUS RIGHTS of Native Americans in ceremonies (“American Indian Religious Freedom Act”); provide funds for innovative economic development initiatives, EDUCATION and public HEALTH PROGRAMS; and respect land, water and mineral rights within the borders of reservations and traditional lands.
3. We support efforts to broadly reform the BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS (BIA) to make this vast agency more responsible, and responsive, to tribal governments.
4. We support the just settlement of the claims of the thousands of Native American URANIUM MINERS who have suffered and died from radiation exposure. We condemn the stance of secrecy taken by the Atomic Energy Commission during this era and its subsequent claim of “government immunity,” taken knowingly (and immorally) at the expense of Native peoples’ health and safety.
5. We support the complete clean-up of those mines and tailing piles that are a profoundly destructive legacy of the Cold War era.
6. We recognize that Native American land and treaty rights often stand at the front-line against government and multinational corporate attempts to plunder energy, mineral, timber, fish, and game resources, polluting water, air, and land in the service of the military, economic expansion, and the consumption of natural resources. Therefore, we support legal, political, and grassroots efforts by and on behalf of Native Americans to protect their traditions, rights, livelihoods, and their sacred spaces.
J. IMMIGRATION / EMIGRATION
Our nation was built with a rich tapestry of immigrants and we must continue to respect the potential contributions and RIGHTS of our new immigrants.
1. Preferential quotas based on race, class, and ideology should be abandoned for immigration policies that promote fairness, NON-DISCRIMINATION and family reunification.
2. We support policies that reflect our constitutional guarantees of freedoms of speech, association and travel.
3. We find particular attention should be given those minorities who are political exiles and refugees, including Russian Jews, mid-East Kurds, Tibetans and Haitians.
4. Our relationship with our neighbor to the south, Mexico, needs to be given added attention. Our border relations and reciprocal economic opportunities should be a central concern of government that is looking to improved economic, environmental and social conditions for both peoples.
5. We oppose those who seek to divide us for political gain by raising ethnic and racial hatreds, blaming immigrants for social and economic problems.
1. Decent, AFFORDABLE HOUSING for every American must be a component of a campaign at the federal, state and local level.
2. We hold that government should play an activist role in the availability of housing. A COORDINATED HOUSING PLAN that is broad and inclusive should devote resources to non-profit community housing projects, private sector investments and appropriate public housing initiatives that encourage individual ownership over time.
3. We encourage low-impact, site-specific designs that encourage human-scale development and environmentally sensitive planning.
4. Pension funds and community development banks can be targeted and can become important sources of new funding. Subsidies, trade-offs with developers, and the creative use of city and county zoning ordinances should be emphasized to increase the affordable housing stock available within local communities depending on need.
L. NATIONAL SERVICE
1. We must create new opportunities for citizens to serve their communities. ALTERNATIVE SERVICE to the military should be encouraged.
2.We advocate the formation of a CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS (CCC) with national leadership, and state and local affiliates, to spearhead efforts to work on the tasks of environmental education, restoration of damaged habitats, reforestation, and cleaning up polluted waterways. Providing land and resource management skills will challenge young people while encouraging social responsibility.
III. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
A. ENERGY POLICY
If we do not alter our energy use soon – and drastically – the ecological crisis may be exacerbated past a point where it can be resolved. A comprehensive energy policy must be a critical element of our environmental thinking. Investing in ENERGY EFFICIENCY and RENEWABLE ENERGY is key to sustainability.
Just as ecological materials management is governed by the concept of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” (in priority order), ecological energy management must be governed by the principle of Conservation, Efficiency, and Clean Renewables. Of highest importance is to use less, then to use wisely, and to have clean production of what is used.
1. Extensive conservation measures will bring huge resource savings for both the economy and the environment. Conservation, along with energy efficiency and renewables, is an essential part of an effective energy policy. The Greens call for pervasive efforts on the energy conservation front. We encourage the creation and design of human environments that are as energy-efficient as possible, recognizing that yet further conservation efforts are a significant means to meeting our future energy needs without further energy production. Similarly, we support the phasing out of the most ecologically harmful sources of energy.
2. We call for the development of STATE ENERGY POLICIES that include taxes and/or fines on energy “waste,” and the funding of energy research, including credits for alternative and sustainable energy use such as solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass.
3. Greens also support enacting mandatory carbon reduction measures and setting the bar for carbon emissions at a percentage well below the best appropriate technology.
4. In order to aid in the rapid replacement of extremely polluting energy systems (nuclear and coal-fired power plants), natural gas power plants could help provide needed replacement power until conservation, efficiency and truly clean renewables are fully phased in. Natural gas power plants should not be used to feed an increase in energy demand.
5. Thanks to technological innovation prompted by regrettably limited federal support, photovoltaic cells now cost one-tenth what they did 20 years ago, and wind-generated power costs one-fifth what it did 10 years ago. It is now estimated that the total RENEWABLE ENERGY contribution to our nation’s energy use could realistically be 10% by the year 2010 and 20% by the year 2020 – but only if increased emphasis is placed on renewable energy. We urge that new construction be required to achieve substantial portions of its heating energy from the sun in the next few years. Incentives/disincentives should be put in place to move utilities toward establishing SOLAR POWER STATIONS to augment and eventually supplant fossil-fuel generated electricity.
6. “TRUE-COST PRICING,” which reflects the “realistic” cost of products including ecological damage and externalities caused during the manufacturing process, must be adopted to achieve accurate financial accounting. Only with a shift in the way we are seeing, can we accurately assess our energy choices and costs – and the long-term impacts of the energy decisions we are making.
B. NUCLEAR ISSUES
1. The Green Party recognizes that there is no such thing as nuclear waste “disposal.” All 6 of the “low-level” nuclear waste dumps in the United States have leaked. There are no technological quick fixes which can effectively isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere for the duration of its hazardous life. Therefore, it is essential that generation of additional nuclear wastes be stopped.
2. The Green Party calls for the early retirement of nuclear power reactors as soon as possible (in no more than 5 years) and for a phase-out of other technologies that use or produce nuclear waste. These technologies include non-commercial nuclear reactors, reprocessing facilities, nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators and all commercial and military uses of depleted uranium.
3. Current methods of underground storage are a danger to present and future generations. Any nuclear waste management strategies must be aboveground, continuously monitored, retrievable and repackageable, and must minimize transportation of wastes.
4. The Green Party strongly opposes any shipment of high-level nuclear waste across the United States to the proposed Nevada waste “repository” at Yucca Mountain or any other centralized facility. The Green Party believes that this proposal is part of a move to re-fire a fast-track, commercial nuclear industry, if they can get their unsafe waste product “safely disposed of.”
5. We call for cancellation of the WASTE ISOLATION PILOT PLANT (WIPP), the nation’s first weapons complex nuclear dump, in southern New Mexico.
6. We call for independent, public-access radiation monitoring at all nuclear facilities.
7. We support applicable environmental impact statements (EIS) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis with citizen participation at all nuclear sites.
8. We support an immediate and intensive CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC about nuclear problems, including disposal, clean-up and long-term dangers.
C. WASTE MANAGEMENT
1. Legal requirements and standards for businesses applying for zoning permits should be formulated to require disclosure of toxics which may be used.
2. Past violations, illegal use and misuse of hazardous materials have to be remedied appropriately. Those responsible for toxic waste dumping, spills, and contamination on or off their sites should be responsible for costs of complete clean-up. In addition, we call for levying sizable fines on those found guilty of violating such standards.
3. We endorse a revisiting of “Superfund” legislation to make these clean up laws more effective.
4. Waste management is a critical challenge to the survival of the modern world. Real reductions in per capita consumption of materials, and significant increases in the efficiency with which materials are used, is a problem that must be faced sooner rather than later. We support RECYCLING at every level of the economy. We endorse SOURCE REDUCTION and municipal programs that particularly focus on household recycling.
5. We oppose INCINERATION of municipal solid waste, sewage, non- biological medical waste, and toxic waste. We support a moratorium on any new incinerators that burn such materials and a rapid shutdown of existing incinerators that do so.
6. We oppose shipping of toxic wastes across national borders, and the SHIPMENT OF TOXIC/HAZARDOUS OR RADIOACTIVE WASTES, without regulation, across any political borders.
7. We oppose the exportation, under any circumstances, of chemicals that are prohibited in the United States.
8. Environmental justice demands that poor communities, minority and under-represented communities not bear an unfair burden when it comes to disposal of toxic wastes.
9. The environmental problems associated with the personal computer and electronics industry are growing worse. The Green Party believes these environmental issues must be identified and addressed:
a.) Pollution. The manufacture of computer chips, computers and peripherals involves a host of chemicals that end up in our water, air, and landfills. Cleanup is a major cost, an "externality" that must be addressed. Health costs associated with the use of computers and electronic devices are not insignificant and range of work-related injuries and illnesses. At work, at home and on the road the digital era is ubiquitous. The shift mandated by the FCC from analog to digital communications systems (including HDTV), as just one example, will produce tens of millions of out-of-date televisions and monitors over the next decade. The chemicals in these devices are dangerous and should not be allowed to simply be deposited in land fills or disposed of in a way that will produce long-term health damaging and adverse environmental effects.
b.) Power. Energy bills associated with the electronics industry are rising and alternative sources of power are needed. Cleaner, cheaper ‘green’ energy has to become a universal goal.
c.) Paper consumption. The demand for printing paper puts pressure on dwindling forests. Clear cutting continues with all the attendant environmental damage. The pollution caused by mills is considerable, and the production of white paper is particularly damaging. Alternative paper stock, and recycled papers, should become the norm.
d.) Packaging.The excessive amounts of plastic, cardboard and Styrofoam many manufacturers use to package computers and software are an increasing problem. These non-biodegradable materials contribute layers to landfills. It’s time to have a complete makeover of the electronics packaging industry.
e.) Recycling. All the materials associated with the personal computer and electronics industry must be identified as recyclable and recycled wherever possible as part of a closed-loop system.
D. FOSSIL FUELS
1. We are aware of the environmental hazards that accompany the use of fossil fuels and of their non-sustainability and eventual depletion. We call for TRANSITION ENERGY STRATEGIES, including the use of relatively clean-burning natural gas, as a way to reorder our energy priorities and over-reliance on traditional fuels.
2. We call for a gradual phase-out of gasoline and other fossil fuels. Until gasoline driven cars can be replaced, we advocate FUEL EFFICIENCY standards, a “gas guzzler” tax on new low mileage vehicles, and a “gas sipper” rebate on high mileage vehicles.
3. We advocate fair “buybacks” of the most polluting and least efficient vehicles to remove these vehicles from the road.
4. We oppose further development of our nation’s outer continental shelf for oil drilling or exploration.
5. We acknowledge the relative benefits that can be achieved in the production of and use of NATURAL GAS in current economic alternatives and transition strategies.
6. Public ownership and/or strong public regulation of UTILITIES should be encouraged to advance energy efficient policies. Appropriate tax-exempt bonds should be authorized to finance public ownership in utilities. Tax-exempt bonds should be authorized to allow publicly owned utilities to finance conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects.
E. RENEWABLE ENERGY
1. Overall, it is essential in the long-term that ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SYSTEMS be put in place that produce goods that are durable, repairable, reusable, recyclable, and energy-efficient, using both non-toxic materials and nonpolluting production methods.
2. We call on regulatory agencies to include “life-cycle” considerations in their standard-setting process for product approval. We promote citizen participation in this process.
3. Ultimately, environmentally destructive technologies, processes, and products should be replaced with alternatives that are environmentally benign. Producers/manufacturers must look to redesigning their products. Legislation that will assist this transition (including bans, taxation, recycled content standards and economic incentives/disincentives such as taxation, special fees, and/or deposits) will be required in a any concerted move toward system-wide sustainability.
F. TRANSPORTATION POLICY
1. We encourage providing a broad range of incentives for ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION, including natural gas vehicles, solar and electric vehicles, bicycles and bikeways, and MASS TRANSIT.
2. As a nation we must push for motor vehicle fuel efficiency, raising the standard to a minimum of 45 miles per gallon by 2005.
3. We must require that an increasing percentage of the Federal motor fleet is converted to natural gas and aims at being pollution free over the next decade.
4. We must expand our country’s network of rail lines, high speed regional passenger service, and urban light rail systems.
5. We support efforts to develop inexpensive, efficient solar cells, chips and panels via “industrial grade” silicon and other advanced materials.
6. We endorse converting our nation’s weapons complex and labs toward civilian RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. We are especially interested in public/private partnerships that work to create breakthrough battery technology which would enable electric cars (and all solar electric applications) to become energy efficient and market competitive.
G. CLEAN AIR / GREENHOUSE EFFECT / OZONE DEPLETION
Climate change presents very real economic and social opportunities for new and sustainable jobs from new energy technologies, including both energy efficiency and renewables. Yet, too often, the focus of debate has been only on the pain of adjustment to carbon reductions, this because of the influence of multinational business on government policies.
With only 4% of the earth’s people, the United States produces more than 20% of emissions. From 1990 to 1996, total U.S. emissions grew by an amount equal to what Brazil and Indonesia produce every year. Per capita, the United States emits 85% more than Germany, twice as much as England and Japan, and currently nearly 10 times as much as China.
The Green Party urges the U.S. Congress to act immediately to address the critical global warming and climate change issues. When the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to oppose any global warming treaty that does not also bind developing countries to specific, if smaller, emissions reductions in the future, which many industrializing countries oppose, it put a roadblock in the way of progress by all nations.
Greens believe the following are possible, if we are to make a start on protecting our global climate. It is imperative that we strive for no less:
1. An early target must still be set to prevent emissions rising so far that future reductions become even more difficult. There must be commitments for 2005.
2. Avoiding loopholes is now even more important than an ambitious target. Unless a very ambitious target is set, which now seems unlikely, allowing sinks and trading within the protocol will create such loopholes that no real reductions will occur. Trading and sinks must be left until there is much more scientific precision about how they are measured.
3. Nuclear power is not an acceptable alternative to fossil energy. We should not accept country commitments that depend on increasing nuclear capability. We must join the solar age.
4. Targets are not enough without credible policies and measures to achieve them. We urge all governments to table a list of the policies and measures they intend to adopt to attain their target, for example eco-taxes and energy performance standards.
5. The Green party endorse the “Contraction and Convergence” model under discussion at international talks, which as proposed would eventually give every human being an equal right to the atmosphere, as the most practical way to achieve justice and participation for developing countries.
6. The strict, comprehensive protections of the “Clean Air Act” must be maintained and enhanced if we are to keep in place effective federal programs that deal with urban smog, toxic air pollution, acid rain and ozone depletion. State and local clean air initiatives should advance and improve national efforts. As an example, California has taken the lead in legislation moving forward stricter clean air and fuel efficiency standards, and vehicle and fleet conversions. These programs should serve as a model for other local, regional and state initiatives.
7. It is said that U.S. industries emit over 20% of greenhouse gases globally. As a nation, we must implement public and private initiatives at every level to support the “GLOBAL CLIMATE TREATY” signed at the “Earth Summit” in 1992, committing industrial nations within a time framework to reducing emissions to 1990 levels.
8. The Earth’s atmosphere, according to informed scientific opinion, is in great danger due to man-made chemicals and hydrocarbon emissions. Chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochloro-fluorocarbons (HCFCs), and other related ozone-depleting substances should be banned as soon as is possible.
9. GREENHOUSE GASES and the threat of GLOBAL WARMING must be addressed by the international community in concert, through international treaties and conventions, with the industrial nations at the forefront of this vital effort.
H. LAND USE
Greens are advocates for the Earth. All the rivers, lakes, landscapes, forests, and wildlife. This is our birthright and our home - the green Earth.
When we see the first picture ever taken of our green oasis from space, photographed from the window of the Apollo flight, we marvel at the preciousness of life.
We remember John Muir's and Edward Abbey's call to protect what is critical to our spirit. Experiencing the wilderness calls us to preserve pristine nature. We are advocates for our home. Our advocacy is based on our love of nature and our recognition that it is beyond us.
Greens take a BIOREGIONAL VIEW of the ecosystem, acknowledging political boundaries while noting that the land, air and water, the interconnected biosphere, is a unique and precious "community", deserving careful consideration and protection. Greens support restructuring institutions to conform to bioregional realities. We feel that, just as the planetary ecology consists of nested systems at various scales, so must our programs and institutions of ecological stewardship be scaled appropriately.
Guided by our sense of stewardship, we feel that all land use polices, plans, and practices should be based on sustainable development and production, the reduce-reuse-recycle ethic, and the encouragement of balance between optimum and diverse use of land.
1. Land Ownership and Property Rights
We encourage the social ownership and use of land at the community, local, and regional level, for example in the form of community and conservation land trusts, under covenants of ecological responsibility.)
2. Communities and Urbanism
Greens find inspiration in building healthy, livable communities. Communities must be designed or redesigned so that they are built with energy efficiency in mind, on a human scale, with integrated land uses. Such integrated land uses should provide, for example, ready access between home and work, and to schools, a local supply of food, shopping, worship, medical care, recreation and natural areas. Integrated land use should also de-emphasize individual motorized transport and place more emphasis on ecologically responsible mass transit, bicycling, and the pedestrian.
We promote urban design and architecture that does not alienate, but fulfills, the spirit and that is compatible with human, social, artistic, and environmental values. Greens support the concepts advanced by the NEW URBANISM movement. As there is much to learn about human-scale development and neighborly social interaction from historical patterns of urbanism, we support historic preservation.
Recreational opportunities are the beginning of lifelong appreciation of our natural environment. We should all have opportunities to experience nature firsthand.
3. Land Use Planning
It is imperative that we as a nation find a means to CONTROL URBAN SPRAWL. The ecological, social, and fiscal crises engendered by sprawl are becoming ever-more apparent. Greens enthusiastically endorse the Metropolitics movement, which seeks to control sprawl by integrating such measures as urban growth boundaries, tax base sharing, fair housing, and metropolitan transportation. Urban areas can be revitalized through “brownfields” redevelopment although standards for the clean up of contaminated sites must not be lowered. Rural areas and farmland should be preserved, through such measures as purchase of development rights.
WATERSHED PLANNING should be undertaken to mitigate the impacts of urban development on our streams, rivers, and lakes. Storm water management, soil erosion and sedimentation control, the establishment of vegetative buffers, and performance standards for development are appropriate measures in this area. Special attention must be given to the restoration and protection of riparian areas, which are critical habitats in healthy ecosystems.
4. Natural Resource Management
Greens believe that effective land and resource management practices must be founded on stewardship, such as incorporated in a “land ethic” as articulated by Aldo Leopold.
a.) Stringent natural resource management should serve to prevent activities that adversely affect public and adjacent lands. We call for repeal of the “Mining Act of 1872.” We demand a halt to federal mineral, oil and gas, and resource giveaways, “royalty holidays,” and flagrant concessions to the mining, energy and timber industries; and an immediate crackdown on their evasions and fraudulent reporting.
b.) We call for strict CLEAN-UP ENFORCEMENT of industrial-scale natural resource extraction activities, for example, of tailings, pits and run-off from mining operations via agreement with companies that can include posting of site-restoration bonds prior to commencement of operations. The regional long-term environmental and social impacts of any resource extractions should be minimized, and the land restored to a healthy ecological state.
c.) We call for a halt to all current international funding policies that promote destruction of forest ecosystems and we call for an end to the trade in endangered hardwoods. We support laws that promote paper recycling and mandate SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY practices that promote biodiversity.
d.) We urge protection of “old growth” forests, a zero-cut policy banning industrial timber harvest on federal and state lands, a ban on all clear-cutting, and a reduction of road building on public lands.
e.) We advocate raising grazing fees on public land to approximate fair market value and significant grazing reforms. We support policies that favor small-scale ranchers over corporate operations (which are often used as tax write-offs, a practice which undermines family ranches).
f.) We must promote the preservation and extension of wildlife habitat and biological diversity by creating and preserving large continuous tracts of open space (complete ecosystems so as to permit healthy, self-managing wildlife populations to exist in a natural state. We oppose any selling off of our National Parks, the commercial "privatizing" of public lands; and/or cutbacks or exploitation in our national wilderness areas.
g.) Public involvement in decision making via active and well-funded RESOURCE MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS and COUNCILS will aid a long-term process on the use of federal and state trust lands which are currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest Service, National Park Service, and State Land Offices.
h.) We support banning indiscriminate wildlife “damage control practices” and abolishing the ANIMAL DAMAGE CONTROL agency that has been renamed “Wildlife Services.”
i.) We urge comprehensive baseline mapping of our nation’s biodiversity resources.
Together we must look ahead and plan for future water uses, as well as today’s needs. Who can disagree that clean and sufficient water resources will determine what kind of future we have?
1. With the longer term in mind, we call for elimination of wasteful subsidies on the use of water in agriculture and for municipal water rates to be set high enough, or that other INCENTIVES/DISINCENTIVES be set in place, to discourage the wasteful use of water.
2. We support the federal “Clean Water Act” setting strict requirements for sewage discharges, wetland protection and water quality standards. Recent moves to rollback protections would in effect create a dirty water act. Our right to clean water is non-negotiable.
3. Given the profound importance of clean water, we support the establishment of federal, state, and local GROUNDWATER PROTECTION agencies with authority to establish standards for the use of water; to provide tough and timely enforcement of laws enacted; and to protect our aquifers from overuse, depletion and contamination.
4. We endorse alternative solutions to water treatment and clean-up, for example CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS and biological remediation.
5. We acknowledge Native American rights regarding water, and urge fair and equitable solutions with tribes on the part of the courts and State Water Engineers.