Last week, at his Climate Change Town Hall, Rep. Darren Soto unveiled the legislative framework of the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act – an ambitious new climate plan to ensure the United States achieves net-zero greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050. The bill is being spearheaded by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes of climate change requires cutting carbon pollution to net-zero by 2050. The CLEAN Future Act incorporates both proven and novel concepts, presenting a set of policy proposals that will put the U.S. on the path to a clean and prosperous economy.
“The climate crisis impacts everyone – every industry, every community, every American,” said Rep. Soto. “While the Trump Administration has taken us backward in our fight against climate change, the CLEAN Future Act represents House Democrats’ commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our environment and public health.”
“As a Member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, I look forward to working to refine this legislative framework while ensuring it protects Floridians and creates millions of good-paying jobs in a climate-resilient economy,” added Rep. Soto.
The draft legislation includes the following key areas:
- Power Sector:
- Guided by proposals from Reps. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) on Clean Electricity Standards (CES), the CLEAN Future Act proposes a nationwide CES requiring all retail electricity suppliers to obtain 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The CES in the discussion draft text mandates that all retail electricity suppliers provide an increasing supply of clean energy to consumers starting in 2022, rising to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The draft legislation stipulates that suppliers must possess a sufficient quantity of “clean energy credits” at the end of each year, or may otherwise make an “alternative compliance payment.” Suppliers may buy and trade clean energy credits from one another or purchase them via auction. The mandate is technology-neutral, allowing electricity suppliers ample flexibility and freedom of choice.
- Building Sector:
- The draft legislation aims to improve the efficiency of new and existing buildings, as well as the equipment and appliances that operate within them. The Act establishes national energy savings targets for continued improvement of model building energy codes, leading to a requirement of zero-energy-ready buildings by 2030. This section further provides assistance for states and Tribes to support adoption of updated model building energy codes and support full compliance. The CLEAN Future Act also incorporates several additional measures to reduce building emissions.
- Transportation Sector:
- The draft legislation reduces transportation emissions, the largest source of GHG emissions, by improving vehicle efficiency, accelerating the transition to low- to zero-carbon fuels and building the infrastructure needed for a clean transportation system. The bill directs EPA to set new, increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles, including non-road modes of transportation. It further requires year-over-year improvements to those standards – and that the level of the standards be set in accordance with the path to net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Industrial Sector:
- The CLEAN Future Act establishes a Buy Clean Program that sets performance targets to steadily reduce emissions from construction materials and products used in projects that receive federal funding. With the vast majority of U.S. construction projects funded by government dollars, this proposal would transform these carbon-intensive industries by ensuring that these projects only use the cleanest construction materials. The program also strengthens the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector while reducing climate pollution by promoting the use of low-carbon materials and expanding the market for cleaner products.
- National Climate Target for Federal Agencies:
- The CLEAN Future Act directs all federal agencies to use all existing authorities to put the country on a path toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This section of the bill was championed by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA). It does not stipulate which energy sources or strategies qualify, instead of taking a technology-inclusive approach to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century. To ensure federal agencies’ collective efforts remain on track, the draft legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate each agency’s plans, make recommendations and report on progress each year.
- State Climate Plans:
- The CLEAN Future Act empowers the states to complete the transition to a net-zero economy, based on the existing federalism model in the Clean Air Act. The bill sets a national climate standard of net-zero greenhouse gas pollution in each state by 2050. States are then granted flexibility to develop plans to meet the 2050 and interim standards based on their policy preferences, priorities and circumstances. Each state must submit a climate plan to EPA, which then reviews and approves or disapproves of each plan. States may work independently or cooperatively as they develop their plans to meet the national climate standard. To ensure that states have ample guidance and expertise at their disposal, the bill directs EPA to develop a set of model greenhouse gas control strategies, which states can choose to incorporate into their plans.
- National Climate Bank:
- The CLEAN Future Act establishes a first-of-its-kind National Climate Bank to help states, cities, communities and companies in the transition to a clean economy. The Bank, championed by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), will mobilize public and private investments to provide financing for low- and zero-emissions energy technologies, climate resiliency, building efficiency and electrification, industrial decarbonization, grid modernization, agriculture projects, and clean transportation. The CLEAN Future Act requires that the Bank prioritize investments in communities that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, including frontline, rural, low-income and environmental justice communities.
- Environmental Justice:
- The draft legislation requires that states’ individual climate plans and state implementation plans for other hazardous air pollutants proactively consider the needs of frontline and environmental justice communities. The draft also includes grant programs to allow impacted communities to participate in the permitting and regulation of petrochemical facilities in their neighborhoods. It further protects these groups by implementing strong new coal ash disposal requirements and repealing oil and gas production exemptions from landmark environmental laws.
The CLEAN Future Act also features a suite of complementary policies, including proposals to remove barriers to clean energy, reduce super pollutants like methane, and investments in grid modernization and energy efficiency programs.
The full legislative framework is available HERE.