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Kaine Introduces Bill To Establish Clean Energy Standard, Slash GHG Emissions from Power Generation ~80 percent by 2035

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I missed this the other day (see statement from Sen. Tim Kaine, below), but I wanted to highlight it because it looks highly promising to me. No, it’s not comprehensive, as it only addresses the power sector, and as the Environmental Defense Fund notes, we will of course “need dramatic reductions in climate pollution across other sectors of the economy, including transportation and industry.” Still, as the Union of Concerned Scientists puts it:

“A well-designed national clean energy standard could be the game changer we need to cut power sector carbon emissions. This legislation would serve as an important down-payment toward our climate goals by accelerating the clean energy momentum already underway across the nation.”

And as Resources for the Future explains, this legislation would “Reduce generation from fossil sources from 60 percent to 26 percent of total generation in 2035” while providing “net benefits of $579 billion over the 2020–2035 time period” and preventing “30,000 premature deaths from air pollution in the US over the 2020–2035 time period.” Not bad! So let’s make sure that Democrats are in charge after 2020, and then let’s press them to push ahead on bills like this one, as well as others, to aggressively address the climate crisis, while moving us to a prosperous, sustainable, clean energy economy for the 21st century. The other option to aggressive climate action? Basically…there isn’t one, unless you think that the world as we know it essentially ending by 2050 is an acceptable option. Which, of course, it most certainly is not.

Kaine Introduces Bill To Establish Clean Energy Standard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Tina Smith and others to introduce the Clean Energy Standard of Act of 2019, which would establish a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES), to put our nation on course to achieve net-zero emissions from the electric sector by midcentury to fight climate change.

“It’s past time for our country to get serious about addressing the causes of climate change,” said Kaine. “This bill puts us on course for a transformative expansion of renewable energy. Virginia is already on this path, having in recent years reduced our emissions while growing our economy. We need to send a clear signal that clean energy is the way to go because it will ensure long-term market stability, expand jobs in the renewable energy sector, and reduce the emissions responsible for climate change.”

The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019 would:

    • Establish the federal Clean Energy Standard (CES) to put the U.S. on a path to net-zero electricity emissions. Under this plan, every company selling retail electricity would be asked to increase the amount of clean energy provided to its customers, with the recognition that different regions will be starting the clean energy transition at different benchmarks. This bill would establish a CES credit trading market, which would allow retail electricity sellers to cost-effectively achieve clean energy targets without taxes or other federal revenues;
    • Encourage companies to bring cost-effective, emission-free technologies to market. The bill would further incentivize development and deployment of zero-emission technologies, including long term storage, that can be turned on or off at any time and help balance the electric grid as the transition to clean energy continues; and
    • Significantly reduce emissions to benefit public health and the environment. Scientific modeling of this plan shows that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generators by nearly 80 percent by 2035 (compared to 2005 levels) and lead to thousands of fewer deaths every year.

In addition to Kaine and Smith, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

You can access a summary of the bill here and text of the bill here.