Wednesday, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., the U.S. House assistant speaker, introduced the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019, which would establish a federal Clean Energy Standard.
The bill would put the nation on course to achieve net-zero emissions from the electric sector by midcentury to fight climate change, according to a news release.
In a news release, Smith and Luján said the science is clear-tackling the climate crisis requires serious and quick action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of the immediate actions necessary is to reduce emissions produced when electricity is generated, and the measures they introduced in both the House and Senate is intended to provide an affordable pathway to significantly reduce emissions in this space.
"Minnesota is a leader in finding affordable ways to reduce emissions, and I want the nation to follow our lead," Smith stated in the release. "The bills Rep. Luján and I have introduced recognize that while states across the country have different energy mixes, we can all work toward the goal of net-zero electricity emissions by utilizing the range of effective technologies. This is about public health, our environment, and making sure that America is leading when it comes to tackling the climate crisis."
The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019 is conceptualized to:
• Establish the federal Clean Energy Standard 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 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.
• Significantly reduce emissions and benefit public health and the environmental. Scientific modeling of this plan shows 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 Smith and Luján, the bill is cosponsored by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.