Today, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that will set a federal Clean Energy Standard requiring decarbonization of the electric power sector by mid-century. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) is introducing a companion bill in the House.
Clean Air Task Force, an NGO dedicated to developing technological, legislative and regulatory solutions to global climate change, said it strongly supports the bills. “To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must reduce U.S. electric sector carbon emissions to near zero by mid-century. The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019 offers a pragmatic, sensible approach to reducing emissions that includes incentives for creation and deployment of zero-carbon, always-available sources of electricity that will be needed to achieve that goal with greater certainty and at a manageable cost,” said CATF Executive Director Armond Cohen.
The bills are technology-inclusive, meaning that they allow all forms of carbon reduction strategies, including carbon capture and storage, hydroelectric generation, nuclear energy, in addition to renewables such as wind and solar. The bills also provide incentives for the creation and deployment of low- and zero-carbon, always-available sources of electricity through a credit “multiplier” and creation of a new RDD&D program for clean technology at the Department of Energy.
The bills also reflect a growing trend in the states, many of which have introduced or are contemplating similar Clean Energy Standards out to 2050. California, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington State have all passed legislation that will require generation of zero-carbon electricity by mid-century, and other states are following suit. A number of major utilities have also set zero-carbon objectives, bringing the total fraction of national energy sales potentially covered by ambitious carbon targets to 37.9% of US electricity sales and 30.7% of national utility CO2 emissions. CATF just released a comprehensive study of this trend, and the proposed federal legislation can only encourage further similar actions by the states and forward-leaning utilities. For more on CATF’s position on this bill, see our blog here.