This month, three members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce released the legislative framework of the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, with the goal of ensuring that the United States achieves net-zero greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050.
“Record wildfires, flooding, heat waves and drought have spelled out a dire reality; the climate crisis is here, and we can no longer afford to address this crisis along the margins,” said Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “Today, we are providing the kind of serious federal leadership this moment requires. This plan represents our commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas pollution.”
For the power sector, the Act proposes a nationwide Clean Energy Standard that requires all retail electricity suppliers to obtain 100% 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 make an alternative compliance payment. Suppliers may also buy and trade clean energy credits from one another or purchase them by auction.
The draft legislation intends to improve the efficiency of new and existing buildings and the equipment and appliances that operate within them. It establishes national energy savings targets for continued improvement of model building energy codes and leading to a requirement of net-zero energy buildings by 2030. It also provides assistance for states and tribes to adopt updated model building energy codes and support full compliance.
The draft also calls for the reduction of transportation emissions by improving vehicle efficiency and building the infrastructure needed for a clean transportation system. It also directs the EPA to set new and increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The draft legislation 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. The Buy Clean Program is also designed to reduce climate pollution by promoting the use of low-carbon materials and expanding the market for cleaner products.
The legislation is also designed to establish State Climate Plans that would empower 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, and then states are granted the flexibility to develop plans to meet the 2050 and interim standards based on their policy preferences, priorities and circumstances.