Sweeping climate bill aims for zero carbon emissions by 2050

Benjamin J. Hulac, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

It would establish a clean electricity standard to require utility companies to generate an increasing percentage of their electricity from zero-emissions sources. The standard would reach 80 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035.

Senate Democrats are expected to introduce a clean electricity standard as part of an infrastructure bill that could be the next major legislative proposal after Congress finishes work on the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.

Asked about pricing carbon emissions through a tax or a cap-and-trade market, Pallone said that was not his preferred method of lowering heat-trapping gases.

“I think it’s time to try something new,” said Pallone. “The votes are just not there for a price on carbon.”

The 981-page bill is more ambitious than the version on display last Congress in part because it would set an interim goal of cutting emissions 50 percent by 2030.

Scientists with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, the leading international voice on climate, warned in a landmark 2018 report that international leaders have until 2030 to get emissions under control and halt temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels — the threshold past which scientists say climate change gets significantly worse.

Tonko said the House committee listened to input from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, adding that the “(clean energy standard) is something that they believe in.”


Lindsey Walter, deputy director for the climate and energy program at Third Way, a centrist think tank, said by phone the legislative structure of the Biden administration’s climate goals are starting to emerge.

“I think it’s perhaps the best policy we have in play right now to decarbonize the electricity sector,” Walter said of the CES concept. “There’s a lot of support behind a clean energy standard.”

She said, “We’re beginning to see actual legislative language being put together to enact the Biden legislative agenda.”

The bill includes 10 sections and hundreds of policy proposals and line items, including $2.5 billion for a “clean school bus” program at the EPA and would authorize $2.5 billion annually to increase the pace of transitioning petroleum-powered buses to zero-emissions buses, according to a summary.

It would also set a 10-year deadline for the cleanup of all federal Superfund sites vulnerable to climate change.

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