By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday proposed a "Blue New Deal" to revitalize and protect the world's oceans, including phasing out all offshore drilling and investing in renewable energy projects like wind turbines.
"Our oceans can underpin a sustainable food system, be a source of renewable energy and defend against the worst of climate change," Warren wrote in a post on the website Medium. "The future of our planet depends on a healthy ocean, and we have no more time to waste."
Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, is among the top contenders for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. There are 15 Democrats vying for the party's nod.
Warren's latest initiative calls for significant increases in offshore renewable energy projects by using executive authority to fast-track the approval process. Construction projects would receive additional subsidies or tax benefits by guaranteeing prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights.
In addition, her administration would seek to ensure that any wind infrastructure is made with U.S. iron, steel and cement and employs American crews and boats to ferry goods and workers.
Warren, who previously vowed to end all new offshore fossil fuel leases, said she would also direct federal agencies to plan a phase-out of existing offshore drilling, while offering retraining and education for displaced workers.
She added she would reinstate an Obama-era program that protected vast swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from oil and gas leasing.
The Trump administration has pushed to expand oil drilling on federal land and in coastal waters as part of a broader effort to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal production.
Warren's plan also calls for a program to support ocean farming, beefed-up anti-pollution efforts from the U.S. Justice Department and quintupling the Federal Emergency Management Agency's pre-disaster mitigation grant program, which helps local governments implement long-term plans for disaster response.
Like many of the Democratic candidates, Warren supports the "Green New Deal," a proposal backed by many congressional Democrats that aims to achieve a net-zero carbon economy in 10 years, along with social and economic justice programs.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Peter Cooney)