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CLEAN Future Act Framework Released

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Last week, leaders from the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce released legislative framework for the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. The climate plan intends to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. no later than 2050.

The framework was released on Jan. 8, by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-New Jersey; Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko, D-New York; and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush, D-Illinois.

“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 Pallone.

“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 sake of the American people, the long-term sustainability of our economy, and public health, we must act boldly, and that is exactly what we intend to do.”

About the CLEAN Future Act

Beginning in July 2019, Pallone, Tonko, and Rush announced a plan that aimed to achieve 100% clean economy by 2050. The target was decided upon the scientific consensus that all countries must shift to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.

Upon receiving warning from the United Nations the following November that global temperatures were on track to increase by as much as 3.9 C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century, the Committee on Energy and Commerce started cracking down on policy solution developments to address the climate crisis.

artJazz / Getty Images

Last week, leaders from the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce released legislative framework for the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act.

According to the committee, the CLEAN Future Act is a reflection of extensive feedback gathered from months of expert testimony and stakeholder engagement collected throughout the 116th Congress, the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and the Subcommittee on Energy.

The 15-hearing series included, among others and witness testimonies:

  • Time for Action: Addressing the Environmental and Economic Effects of Climate Change (Feb. 6, 2019);
  • Clean Energy Infrastructure and the Workforce to Build It (Feb. 27, 2019);
  • Building America's Clean Future: Pathways to Decarbonize the Economy (July 24, 2019);
  • Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Solutions for the U.S. Building Sector (Sept. 20, 2019);
  • Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Solutions for the U.S. Power Sector (Oct. 30, 2019); and
  • Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Solutions for Economy-wide Deep Decarbonization (Dec. 5, 2019).

In addition to these efforts, the committee also led in-depth stakeholder engagements involving leaders from the labor community, environmental justice communities, environmental organizations, think tanks, the clean energy and energy efficiency industries, the power sector, the oil and gas sector, the agricultural sector, the industrial sector, and the transportation sector.

“Meeting the climate crisis head-on is our only hope of avoiding grave and costly outcomes for our communities,” said Tonko.

“Acting swiftly means we can still turn the looming climate threat into opportunity for economic growth and job creation as we build America’s clean energy and climate-resilient future. This legislation will be the top priority for my Subcommittee this year. I look forward to our work together with countless climate stakeholders as we continue to build this bold, consensus driven plan for America to, at long last, truly act on climate.”

Outlined in the legislation’s framework are the following key areas that will involve adopting new policies within the Committee’s jurisdiction:

  • National Climate Target: Championed by Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Virginia, the National Climate Target directs all federal agencies to use all existing authorities to put the country on a path toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To ensure federal agencies’ collective efforts remain on track, the draft legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate each agency’s plans, make recommendations and report on progress each year;
  • Power Sector: Guided by Reps. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico and Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, on Clean Electricity Standards, the Power Sector proposes a nationwide CES requiring all retail electricity suppliers to obtain 100% clean energy by 2050, mandating that all retail electricity suppliers provide an increasing supply of clean energy to consumers starting in 2022;
  • Buildings and Efficiency: The Building Sector draft legislation aims to improve the efficiency of new and existing buildings, as well as the equipment and appliances that operate within them. The section plans to assist states and Tribes in adopting updated model building energy codes and support full compliance, while also establishing national energy savings target leading to a requirement of zero-energy-ready buildings by 2030;
  • Transportation: This portion of the draft legislation directs the EPA to set new, increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles, including non-road modes of transportation, in addition to requiring 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.
  • Industry: To set performance targets that steadily reduce emissions from construction materials and products used in projects that receive federal funding, the Industrial Sector will establish a Buy Clean Program, transforming carbon-intensive industries by ensuring that these projects only use the cleanest construction materials;
  • Environmental Justice: 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. This sector also includes various grant programs to allow impacted communities to participate in the permitting and regulation of petrochemical facilities in their neighborhoods;
  • Super Pollutants: Focusing on heat-trapping pollutants, the Pollutants Sector directs the EPA to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector—the largest source of domestic methane emissions—in addition to black carbon emissions. The sector also creates a grant program within the Department of Energy to help states reduce methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure; and
  • Economy-wide Policies: The largest of the sectors, the Economy-wide Policies will involve State Climate Plans (empowering states to complete the transition to a net-zero economy, based on the existing federalism model in the Clean Air Act), National Climate Bank (championed by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, to 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), Transitioning to a Prosperous Clean Economy Workforce and Integrating Climate Change into U.S. National Security Planning.

Additionally, the CLEAN Future Act also encompasses a collection of complementary policies and ideal investments involving grid modernization and energy efficiency programs.

Legislative text of the draft CLEAN Future Act is slated to be released by the end of January, while hearings and stakeholder meetings are expected to continue throughout the year. Potential 2020 hearing topics include adaptation and climate resilience, workforce and community transition, recycling and waste management, and international cooperation.

The Committee is requesting feedback and recommendations from all stakeholders as it continues to expand and refine the CLEAN Future Act. Feedback can be submitted to CleanFuture@mail.house.gov.

   

Tagged categories: Building codes; Building operations; CLEAN Future Act; Climate Control; Climate monitoring; Construction; Energy and Commerce Committee; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Government; Green building; Green Infrastructure; Greenhouse gas; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Power; Regulations; Transportation; U.S. Department of Energy

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