McKinley and Schrader Commit to Working Together on Bipartisan Legislation to Address Climate Change

Today, in an op-ed that ran in USA Today, Reps. David B. McKinley P.E. (R-W.Va.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) announced their commitment to working together to develop bipartisan legislation to reduce emissions in the power sector.

This fresh approach to address climate change will break through the current partisan stalemate and lead to pragmatic, durable policy that will benefit the environment and the economy. 

The plan calls for 10 years of public and private investments in clean energy innovation and infrastructure development, without government interference. After which, new regulatory standards would be put in place to utilize this innovation and reduce emissions from by as much as 80% by 2050.

“Climate change is one of the greatest environmental and energy challenges of our time, and our government is failing to meet it. Both parties have been unwilling to compromise, leaving policy to be set through executive actions and regulations that change from administration to administration,” McKinley and Schrader wrote. “Instead of energy policies that lurch in a different direction after every election, we need a new approach to develop realistic, durable solutions that will garner bipartisan support. Setting a steady course would be far better for both our economy and the environment.”

To read the full op-ed click here.

Below is a general framework for the legislation:

1.      Innovation & Investment

  • To reduce the cost of mitigation and promote fuel diversity within the electric power sector, the federal government shall undertake a sustained and substantial initiative to accelerate innovation in a broad portfolio of clean energy technologies and to promote public and private investment in their development, demonstration, and infrastructure development.
  • The scale of federal investment would be in the tens of billions of dollars annually (via measures such as grants, loans, tax credits, etc.) for a decade or more, with many billions of dollars in complementary private investments.
  • Initiatives would accelerate research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of advanced technologies for the entire spectrum of clean energy: carbon capture for fossil fuels; direct air capture; nuclear power; renewables including wind, solar, hydropower, and geothermal; storage; efficiency; transmission and grid resilience.

2.     Clean Energy Standard

  • Legislation would establish a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES) for the power sector that will achieve an 80-percent reduction in emissions by 2050. Modeling indicates that standard means the power sector will be 95-percent clean by 2050 (allowing for growth in demand).
  • The first compliance period for the CES will start no later than 10 years after legislative enactment, and may be sooner if triggered by sufficient commercialization of competitive, firm clean energy technologies (as determined by measures of cost or scale of deployment).
  • The CES’s compliance obligations would fall upon load-serving entities, which would receive Clean Energy Credits (CECs) for clean generation.

  • Credits would be tradable, and an alternative compliance price (“safety valve”) would be established.

  • The CES will be technology neutral, and regional diversity would be recognized.   

3.      A transition from Clean Air Act-driven regulations to a Clean Energy Policy

  • The CES is designed to be a superior alternative to regulation under the Clean Air Act, producing significantly deeper emission reductions at a much lower cost along a more predictable and efficient timeline, and eliminating the need for multiple successive rulemakings and prolonged litigation.
  • To encourage faithful implementation of the law, there will be annual reviews of implementation, compliance, and emissions trends, leading up to a Mid-Point Review five years after enactment.

  • If CES regulations aren’t being promulgated, funds for innovation aren’t being appropriated, or emissions in the power sector are rising significantly, actions will be taken to reduce emissions using the Clean Air Act or other authorities.
  • During the ten-year innovation phase, as long as the law is being faithfully and successfully implemented, the federal government will not exercise its authorities under the Clean Air Act or take other new regulatory actions to compel emissions reductions from the electric power sector. 

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