Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced a bill to phase out fossil fuels and completely replace them with clean renewable energy by 2050. The “100 by ’50 Act”, co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), Senator Ed Markey (MA) and Senator Cory Booker (NJ); would put in place a comprehensive plan to ramp up renewable energy and energy efficiency, the electrification of transportation and heating,; while putting a halt to the development of fossil fuel infrastructure. It also includes provisions to train workers in the transition to clean energy to encourage the deployment of clean energy in disadvantaged communities.
Environment America’s Margie Alt joined Senators Merkley, Sanders and Markey, along with other allies on Capitol Hill for today’s announcement and made the following statement:
“It’s no secret: relying on fossil fuels is polluting our air, water and land. It’s making our families sick and it’s changing our climate even faster and more dramatically than scientists predicted.
What’s needed is a total transformation in how and where we get our energy. When we do that, our kids won’t suffer as many asthma attacks triggered by smog and soot from tailpipes and smokestacks; our public lands won’t be littered with pipelines and blighted with drill rigs and waste piles.
Nothing short of a complete shift to 100 percent renewable energy is needed. 100% renewables means we will be healthier, our communities will be more vibrant and the future for kids growing up today will be brighter. The bill unveiled today represents exactly the kind of commitment we need to make this vision a reality.
The good news is that getting to 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent necessary and 100 percent possible. America has virtually unlimited reserves of renewable energy. We could meet our current electricity needs more than 100 times over with just solar energy and another 10 times over with just wind energy. Our buildings could use 50% less energy if we made them more efficient. And, every day we see advances in technology that will make it easier to achieve thise goal.
And, our vision is starting to be reality. Renewable energy is growing faster than anyone could have imagined. We’re creating a virtuous clean energy cycle. More people invest in clean energy creating more environmental and economic benefits which makes it more likely that more and more people invest in clean energy which means even more benefits -- for homeowners and apartment dwellers, for farmers, businesses, governments and institutions across the country.
Shifting to 100% renewables isn’t just an idea for environmentalists or liberal folks living on the coasts. From Georgetown TX, to St. Petersburg FL, to Greensburg KS, local governments have plans to go 100 percent renewable energy as have do dozens of major corporations ranging from Apple to Walmart.
Of course nothing this big comes easy. Incumbent energy interests and their allies especially here in D.C. are working hard to stop progress.
Which is why, along with our efforts here in Washington we’re working to win commitments to 100 percent renewable energy in states like Massachusetts, New Mexico and California; in cities like Atlanta, Denver and Boston and with large institutions across the country, especially colleges and universities.
We are not alone, Last year 450 officials, organizations, businesses and community leaders called on Congress to adopt the 100% goal; millions of people have put up solar, changed out their light bulbs or signed up for electric cars. This summer our Environment America outreach staff will visit over 1 million households educating folks about the potential to get to 100% renewables.
In 2050, when we look back, I’m 100% sure that the bill we’re announcing today will have been a critical part of creating momentum for the cleaner, greener, and healthier world we all want for our families and our society.”
From left to right: Vien Truong, Green for All; Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE; Senator Jeff Merkley (OR); Margie Alt, Environment America