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32 senators co-sponsor the Clean Economy Act to get the US to net zero by 2050

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Clean Economy Act of 2020 today. The act’s purpose is to put the United States on a pathway to achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

The bill is co-sponsored by 32 senators — all Democrats — as well as Angus King of Maine, who is an independent.

According to Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) website:

The bill would also promote American competitiveness and healthier communities, while fostering a fair and growing economy.

Leahy, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes and negotiates the EPA’s annual budget bills, said:

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century and its impact on the American people, our economy, and our communities will be profound. Future generations will surely judge us by how we choose to meet this challenge. The Clean Economy Act recognizes the reality that climate action is both a necessity and an economic opportunity.

Senator Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and and a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, said:

Climate change is the most pressing existential threat we face — but it is also an opportunity for America to lead the way into the economy of the future.

We don’t have to choose between a thriving economy or a healthy environment — we can have both, if we’re ready to do the work.

I phoned the office of Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), who cofounded the first-ever bipartisan caucus dedicated to climate solutions in the Senate, and emailed the office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who also belongs to the climate caucus. I asked Braun’s staffer why Braun didn’t sign on to support the Clean Economy Act. His staffer replied, “That’s a good question,” and said he would find out and reply, but I didn’t hear back from Braun’s office. I also got no reply from Murkowski’s office. If I hear from either, I will update this story.

The bill aims to reach net zero by 2050 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (but not limited to):

  • Low- and zero-greenhouse gas electricity, transportation, and building technologies
  • Methane capture and destruction technologies
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies and practices, including direct air capture to prevent domestic carbon leakage
  • Maximize flexibility in reducing greenhouse gas emissions for entities subject to regulation under this section
  • Minimize costs of greenhouse-gas emission reductions to consumers, particularly consumers from low-income households

Environmental groups weigh in

Here’s what some of the environmental groups had to say about the Clean Economy Act.

Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said:

The challenges ahead are daunting — but we can overcome them. This bill will help jumpstart a breakthrough on climate action. It will cut dangerous carbon pollution and steer us toward cleaner, smarter energy sources — sending a message that the Senate backs a strong national response to a global threat. It will help us build the better future our children deserve.

Elizabeth Gore, senior vice president of political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, said:

By uniting support behind the strong emission reduction target of net-zero climate pollution by 2050, we can increase clean energy development, enhance domestic job creation, advance critical technology innovation, and protect public health.

Food & Water Watch‘s action policy director Mitch Jones was a bit more pointed, specifically about fossil fuels:

We have to move off fossil fuels now. Any climate proposal that does not explicitly stop the extraction of fossil fuels is not a serious climate proposal. Our first step must be to ban fracking, ban exports and imports of fossil fuels, and stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure. Anything less threatens future generations with an uninhabitable planet.

Congress must step up to their responsibility to pass comprehensive climate legislation that is focused on ending the emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. This legislation fails woefully at meeting that responsibility.

Electrek’s Take

We’re delighted to see this bill be introduced into the Senate, but will it go anywhere? It’s disappointing to not see a single Republican name on the co-sponsor list.

What’s the point of being on the climate caucus if you’re not going to publicly show support? Murkowski? Braun? Lindsey Graham? Mitt Romney? Marco Rubio? We’re looking at all of you.

And we agree with Food & Water Watch’s Mitch Jones: We have to move off fossil fuels now.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.