Lawmakers introduce 100 Percent Clean Economy Act

Published on November 22, 2019 by Kevin Randolph

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Legislation that would set a nationwide target of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by U.S. Rep. Don McEachin (D-VA) and his Democratic colleagues.

The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, H.R. 5221, would direct federal agencies to set the United States on a path of achieving net-zero climate pollution across all sectors of the economy by 2050.

This year is on track to be one of the hottest years ever recorded, McEachin noted, underscoring the need to act on climate change by transitioning to clean energy. “The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 will protect public health and our environment; create high-quality green jobs that will strengthen our economy; and mitigate the impacts of climate change for all communities and all generations,” McEachin said.

A number of energy organizations and environmental groups weighed in on the bill.

Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn said, “We appreciate that this legislation recognizes the importance of taking an economy-wide approach to addressing climate change. By accelerating industrial and transportation electrification, we can leverage the already ongoing emission reductions in the power sector to reduce carbon emissions across our economy, while keeping electricity affordable, reliable and secure.”

Kuhn of EEI, which represents U.S. investor-owned electric companies, noted the substantive progress that member companies are making toward transitioning to cleaner energy, while ensuring reliability and affordability for customers. “As of year-end 2018, our sector’s carbon dioxide emissions were 27 percent below 2005 levels, and more than one-third of America’s electricity now comes from carbon-free sources, including nuclear energy and renewables,” Kuhn said.

EEI’s member companies are working toward a goal of reducing carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels. Kuhn urged Congress to increase research and development funding and support for clean energy technologies to help the sector achieve its clean energy goals.

Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), said the council welcomed the introduction of the bill, adding, “… the most important thing Congress can do right now to make progress toward this goal is to prioritize enactment of critical clean energy tax incentives as part of any must-pass legislation this year.”

The bill lays out principles for federal agency action, including improving public health, resilience and environmental outcomes, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by climate change; improving job creation; providing benefits for consumers, small businesses and rural communities; and preparing communities for the impacts and risks of climate change.

If enacted, the legislation would specifically direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess agency plans, make recommendations to strengthen them as necessary and report annually on progress toward the 100 percent clean economy goal. The legislation would also create an advisory committee to provide recommendations on interim goals.

“This bold plan harnesses the power and resolve of our nation to confront the growing threat from climate change,” said John Bowman, managing director of Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It sends a message that the future belongs to those who invest in clean energy sources.”

McEachin introduced the bill with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) and 154 other cosponsors.