NEFI Responding to Senate Dems’ Climate Plan

Senate Democrats released their version of a national climate plan, reports Jim Collura in NEFI Energy Online News. The 263-page report was released by the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, an ad hoc committee established by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) to examine the climate change issue and make recommendations for policy change. “The report provides valuable insight into Democrat priorities for a major climate bill if the party regains control of the Senate next year,” points out Collura, NEFI’s vice president and director of government affairs.

“Senate Democrats say their plan is designed to reduce economywide greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050,” Collura writes. “The Senate plan is much less detailed than the 538-page proposal released by House Democrats in June. Notably, the Senate plan drops mention of a 2030 goal and focuses on achieving dramatic emission reductions by 2050 instead. The plan also ties climate change to coronavirus recovery. This is consistent with the shift from a ‘Green New Deal’ to a ‘Green Recovery’ theme that has emerged since the start of the pandemic. The plan proposes to create more than 10 million new jobs in the clean energy sector and says its recommendations will avoid a projected 9 percent decline in GDP resulting from temperature changes.”

Collura adds that clean power from wind, solar and “beneficial electrification” are at the core of the House and Senate Democrats’ climate action plans. “The party is completely sold on the ‘electrify everything’ argument,’ he notes. Collura adds, “NEFI is working diligently to educate key members of Congress on the quintessential Main Street nature of its members and the promise of carbon reductions under the Providence Resolution. None of the proposals in the House or Senate plan will become law without input from these lawmakers. Major climate change legislation is unlikely to become law if Democrats fail to win the White House and Senate in November. However, public support for federal action continues to grow, so industry engagement at all levels of government will continue to be an industry priority.”

The Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, which is affiliated with the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, was established in March 2019 and was tasked with investigating, holding hearings, and issuing findings on the economic and national security consequences of climate change and how climate action presents significant opportunities for jobs, public health, and the economy, the Special Committee said in a statement issued with the report. Since March 2019, the committee held 10 public hearings, convened 10 in-depth meetings with experts, and connected with an array of constituencies – in person and through targeted outreach.

Here is an edited excerpt from the statement the Senate Democrats issued:

The Committee’s report calls on Congress to:

  • Reduce U.S. emissions rapidly to achieve 100 percent global net-zero emissions no later than 2050;
  • Stimulate economic growth by increasing federal spending on climate action to at least 2 percent of GDP annually — and ensure that at least 40 percent of the benefits from these investments help communities of color and low-income, deindustrialized, and disadvantaged communities; and
  • Create at least 10 million new jobs.

“The climate crisis is not some distant threat. It is here now, and it will be catastrophic if we don’t strike back immediately. Over the next few decades, climate change will affect every part of American life: our health, our economy, our national security, even our geography. Democrats are committed to working—decisively and aggressively—to avoid the steep human and economic costs of a worsening climate crisis, and to guide the transition to a low carbon economy,”said Leader Schumer. “A comprehensive federal response to climate change is more urgently needed than ever before. Racism and inequality put more Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives at risk from climate change-driven disasters, and every year brings new ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ events and record-breaking weather. At the same time, grassroots momentum for action is reaching new heights, calling for climate justice that brings jobs, opportunity, and equity to all. We have the know-how and the solutions, many of which are laid out in this report and which were presented to the Special Committee by expert witnesses. Now, we need to respond to this urgency and enact them,” said Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.).“This report charts a smart path forward for climate action in Congress. It includes the vital first step of exposing the fossil fuel industry’s decades-old covert operation to scuttle meaningful climate legislation,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). “To move forward on major climate bills, we’ll need to execute on that recommendation. It also lays out a bold plan to slash carbon pollution, create jobs and greater equity across our economy, and avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Thank you to Chairman Schatz for his leadership. I’m proud to have been a part of this effort.”

“This pandemic is showing us the importance of responding to crises boldly and decisively, with science not ideology,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.). “Climate chaos, like the coronavirus, is already disproportionately harming communities of color, exacerbating health inequities, and devastating the rural economy. Those ramifications are only going to get worse unless we take on the fossil fuel lobby and special interests that are blocking urgently needed climate action at every turn.”

“In Colorado, we know the cost of inaction on climate change all too well — longer droughts and worsening wildfires hurt our environment and our economy. Following the 2008 recession, clean energy investments boosted Colorado’s rural and urban economies, and we have an enormous opportunity to recover from our current economic crisis by unleashing climate solutions once again. The report we’re releasing today is clear: there are bold and enduring solutions to tackle climate change, and it is time to act on them. We can create 10 million high-paying jobs, boost rural and agricultural communities, tackle environmental injustices, reinvigorate American manufacturing, and reestablish U.S. leadership around the world. And the only way to ensure these solutions last beyond one administration to benefit future generations is by building a broad coalition of support,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.).

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