Environmental groups are set to fan out on Capitol Hill on Thursday to lobby lawmakers to back a 100 percent renewable energy mandate for the nation as an essential part of the progressive “Green New Deal” agenda.
The groups, including Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, and Food and Water Watch, along with 625 members, called on lawmakers in a letter to pursue legislation to ensure that all electricity comes from solar and wind by 2035 or sooner.
Renewable energy, under the groups’ definition, would not include any form of fossil fuel or combustion-based electricity generation, nuclear power plants, biomass energy, large-scale hydroelectric power, or waste-to-energy technologies.
The mandate corresponds to the United Nations’ recently released report on climate change that recommends transitioning away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, stronger storms, flooding, and drought.
Those principles also align with the so-called “Green New Deal” agenda being floated by new Democrats in the House, which calls for taking more direct action to combat the threat of global warming.
Critics of that deal say that, if adopted, it would ultimately raise the cost of electricity and place additional burdens on the average consumer.
The activists swarming the Hill Thursday are also calling for mining and extraction policies that ensure fossil fuels are kept in the ground.
“Pursuing new fossil fuel projects at this moment in history is folly,” the groups state in a letter to lawmakers. “Most immediately, the federal government must stop selling off or leasing publicly owned lands, water, and mineral rights for development to fossil fuel producers.” The groups also want the government to ban approvals of all new fossil fuel power plants and infrastructure projects.
Additionally, the environmental activists are aiming to repeal recent legislation that ended the 40-year ban on crude oil exports to be reversed and to end the export of all other fossil fuels. They want a phase-out of existing fossil fuel plants and projects.
Meanwhile, another large environmental coalition called Environment America also launched a campaign to persuade the nation’s 20 new governors elected in November to enact laws and regulations to face the challenge posed by climate change.
Environment America is also using the U.N. report, in addition to the new national climate assessment issued by the U.S. government, to make the case for enacting new clean energy policies.
“With the stroke of a pen, governors can increase renewable energy use, reduce transportation emissions, and curb energy waste,” said Andrea McGimsey, Environment America’s senior director of global warming program. “These policies have proven effective and can bring immediate benefits to our health and environment.”
Environment America’s list of principles is less prescriptive than the activist groups’ letter to House and Senate lawmakers. For instance, it does not call specifically for a 100percent renewable energy goal, attributing the lack of specificity on the limits placed on governors by pre-existing laws.
Nevertheless, it does call on governors to enact aggressive clean-energy targets, impose limits on fossil fuel use and production, and transition to more electric cars.