Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

Four U.S. Se­na­tors just cre­ated a new pro­posed bill that, if en­acted, would tran­si­tion the United States to 100% clean en­ergy by 2050.

The “100 by ’50 Act” (also known as S. 987) has as its pri­mary spon­sor U.S. Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley, D-ore­gon, and with co-spon­sors U.S. Se­na­tors Bernie Sanders, I-ver­mont, Ed­ward J. Markey, D-mas­sachusetts and Cory Booker, D-new Jer­sey. It is the first leg­is­la­tion of any kind to pro­pose and deal with the end of the use of fos­sil fu­els in the United Sates.

The act out­lines a high-level ap­proach to mak­ing this hap­pen, in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing 7 el­e­ments, as named in the bill:

Green­ing the Grid: All fos­sil fuel elec­tric­ity is to be com­pletely phased out by 2050 and re­placed with clean and re­new­able sup­plies to re­place it. A com­bi­na­tion of steps re­quir­ing the shut­down of all fos­sil fuel elec­tric­ity use would be bal­anced by ma­jor in­vest­ments in clean en­ergy, grid in­fra­struc­ture to dis­trib­ute the power, and power stor­age sys­tems.

Elec­tri­fy­ing the En­ergy Econ­omy: Trans­porta­tion and heat­ing sys­tems would be pow­ered from a na­tional re­new­able en­ergy grid, na­tional zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cle stan­dards would be put in place, a car­bon­tax­ing au­thor­ity would be put in place for com­mer­cial avi­a­tion, mar­itime and rail, and ma­jor in­vest­ments would be spon­sored for zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles and zero-emis­sion heat­ing sys­tems.

Clean and Re­new­able En­ergy for All: In mak­ing the tran­si­tion, all par­ties would work to­gether to en­sure that low-in­come and dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties share in the ben­e­fits of the tran­si­tion. Grants would be made avail­able for clean en­ergy in­stal­la­tion, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency im­ple­men­ta­tions, ac­cess to pub­lic trans­porta­tion, and for job train­ing in the new clean en­ergy sec­tor.

Just Tran­si­tion for Work­ers: Since this ma­jor a change in power use will cause job dis­rup­tions, a ma­jor part of the plan would be to help tran­si­tion those who work in fos­sil fu­els, both to new jobs and in re­tire­ment con­sid­er­a­tions.

End­ing New Fos­sil Fuel In­vest­ments: Just as ex­ist­ing fos­sil fuel use is be­ing shut down, so too must all ap­provals for new fos­sil fuel pro­jects (such as ma­jor pipe­line pro­jects) also be stopped. Fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies must also be elim­i­nated.

En­sur­ing Amer­i­can Com­pet­i­tive­ness: As the tran­si­tion pro­ceeds, the U.S. gov­ern­ment will be al­lowed to im­pose a car­bon tar­iff on im­ported car­bon-in­ten­sive prod­ucts. The pur­pose is to make sure en­ergy-in­ten­sive U.S. prod­ucts main­tain a level play­ing field.

Mo­bi­liz­ing Amer­i­can Re­sources: New sources of fi­nan­cial fund­ing, in­clud­ing in­stru­ments such as cli­mate bonds, would be made avail­able to sup­port in­vest­ments in ev­ery as­pect of the en­ergy tran­si­tion. Plan­ning grants would also be made avail­able to or­ga­ni­za­tions, com­mu­ni­ties, tribes and states to help them de­velop their own 100% clean en­ergy tran­si­tion plans.

The bill has just been in­tro­duced and is cur­rently go­ing through the ini­tial stages of ex­am­i­na­tion and has been re­ferred to the Com­mit­tee on Fi­nance. It will likely take some time, pos­si­bly years, for a fi­nal form to be passed. But the vi­sion is cer­tainly a strong one that de­serves sup­port from across the coun­try.

For those in­ter­ested, the full bill is avail­able for re­view here.

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