Virginia lawmaker’s bill would make the U.S. 100 percent clean energy-reliant by 2030

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    WASHINGTON — With both the wind and some 150 co-sponsors at his back, a Democratic member of Congress from Virginia has rolled out an ambitious plan aimed at committing the United States to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050.

    In the works for months, the plan by U.S. Rep. Don McEachin, of Richmond, would require economy-wide, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; it would also direct federal agencies to draft plans to clamp down on emissions that contribute to climate change. 

    “The need to act on climate has never been clearer: 2019 is on pace to be one of the hottest years ever recorded and every week brings another community damaged by extreme weather events fueled by climate change,”  McEachin said in a statement. 

    McEachin’s bill, “The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019,” has the stated goal of “[protecting] public health and our environment; create high-quality green jobs that will strengthen our economy; and mitigate the impacts of climate change for all communities and all generations,” he said. 

    McEachin’s plan also has nabbed the support of national environmental groups.

    Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said McEachin’s bill “presents an opportunity to tackle the climate crisis while providing federal leadership towards the creation of a new energy system.”

    A major United Nations report released last year said the world could face catastrophic climate change impacts unless global greenhouse gas emissions are cut by 45 percent by 2030. The world would need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the report found. 

    The targets in McEachin’s proposal are less ambitious than the Green New Deal, a proposal championed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that aims to transition the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

    McEachin, who isn’t a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, called that legislation “aspirational,” noting that it lays out broad goals but doesn’t articulate a path forward. 

    His bill, he said, “is still ambitious and it’s very consistent with what scientists tell us we have to achieve.” 

    All but one member of Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. House delegation has signed onto the bill. U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, is the lone Pennsylvania Democrat who is not a signatory to the bill. None of the state’s nine Republican House members are co-sponsors.

    The bill is one of several major pieces of climate change efforts introduced in the House since Democrats took control of the chamber in January. But while some of those efforts could clear the House this Congress, they’re unlikely to get traction in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

    An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.