The "CLEAN" Future Is Coming, Are You Ready?
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

In early March, the House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee released their legislative blueprint for tacking climate change, entitled the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act, or the CLEAN Future Act. This bill is nearly 1,000 pages in length and touches almost every segment of the economy. While Congress is still a long way off from any bipartisan climate legislation being enacted, the CLEAN Future Act is a glimpse into what the House Democratic leadership is thinking and planning for the years to come — a great road map for companies that might be impacted by this legislation. 

The legislation starts with an overall interim goal to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by no less than 50% below 2005 levels, by no later than 2030, and a national goal for the United States to achieve a 100% clean economy by no later than 2050. It directs the head of each federal agency to develop a plan to achieve the overall national goal in conjunction with all other federal agencies. 

The bulk of the goal attainment seems to rest on a “zero-emissions electricity requirement” that requires retail electricity suppliers to provide an increasing percentage of clean electricity each year starting in 2023, rising to 80% in 2030, and 100% in 2035. Clean energy is defined as “economy wide, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, or negative greenhouse gas emissions, after annual accounting for sources and sinks of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the coverage of emissions reported by the United States under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” The legislation would create a zero-emissions electricity credit trading program and allow for alternative compliance payments. 

There are too many provisions of the legislation to cover in this alert but suffice to say they are wide ranging and almost impossible for a business or local or state government to avoid.  Here is a sampling: siting of interstate electric transmission facilities, distributed energy resources, energy-saving building codes, emissions standards for new non-road engines, a Clean School Bus Program, a Clean Cities Coalition Program, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, air pollution reduction at ports, environmental justice initiatives, methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sectors, energy workforce development, and financial disclosures related to climate change.

Companies planning for the future should ask themselves how they would fare under this new framework. Now is the time to get ready for the CLEAN Future — opportunities exist to engage with members of Congress to mitigate the impacts of this legislation or even work to include provisions that would be beneficial. The CLEAN Future is coming, whether through this Congress or a future one — we are here to help you get ready for it.

 

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