House Democrats Lay Out Climate, Clean Energy Priorities in Sweeping Plan

Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on Tuesday unveiled a mammoth and wide-ranging policy plan to embed climate action and resilience within the country’s economy.

The report — which sought to put racial and environmental justice at the center of its recommendations — laid out policies to help the U.S. work toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in all areas of the nation’s economy by midcentury, reaching net negative emissions beyond that. An analysis of the plan’s impacts from think tank Energy Innovation quantified its health and climate benefits at nearly $8 trillion by 2050 in 2018 dollars.

Due to Republican control of the White House and the Senate, the plan is extremely unlikely to gain traction in Congress, especially as the 2020 election approaches. But the policy priorities it contains, laid out over more than 500 pages, demonstrate a marked shift in congressional dialogue and focus around climate change. The House created the Select Committee in January of last year to craft policy recommendations on climate change after widespread protests for climate action and calls for a Green New Deal .

“It shows that the committee has been listening to stakeholders and has watched the Democratic primary carefully,” Leah Stokes, a political science professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara who recently published a book on U.S. clean energy and climate policy, told The Guardian .

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has outlined a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and has endorsed the Green New Deal as a “framework” for climate action. He does not appear to have commented directly on the plan from House Democrats.

Numerous clean-energy recommendations

If adopted, the recommendations would have significant ramifications for the clean energy industry. Not only does the plan call for the development of new tax credits, incentives and innovation programs to support clean energy, but it also recommends tearing down current economic structures that benefit fossil fuels while not reflecting the costs of their associated pollution.

Lawmakers write that “decarbonization of the electricity sector is the linchpin of any national strategy to achieve net-zero emissions.” Under the plan, the U.S. would reach net-zero emissions from power generation by 2040.

To boost U.S. clean energy deployment and delivery, the plan directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop long-range transmission strategy and reduce barriers to clean energy participation in power markets. The agency is currently embroiled in a battle over requirements that renewables receiving state subsidies must bid into grid operator PJM’s capacity market at high prices that make those resources uncompetitive.

The committee also recommended Congress extend and expand renewables tax credits, in...