Senators propose 100 percent renewable energy in US by 2050

By Office of Sen. Jeff Merkley | April 28, 2017

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, along with Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, introduced landmark climate legislation that would transition the U.S. to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050.

 The “100 by ’50 Act” lays out a roadmap for a transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. It is the first bill introduced in Congress that will fully envision a transition off of fossil fuels for the United States.

:America is home to innovative entrepreneurs and scientists who have tackled many challenges in our nation’s history—from harnessing electricity, to putting a man on the moon, to curing disease,” said Merkley. “The power to end the use of fossil fuels and completely transition to clean and renewable energy is within our hands, but just as with the moon landing, we need a roadmap, a goal, and a passionate, shared national commitment to get us there. If an asteroid were hurtling its way through space towards our planet, we would do everything in our power to stop that asteroid. Our commitment to fighting climate change should be no less. Starting at a local, grassroots level and working toward the bold and comprehensive national vision laid out in this legislation, now is the time to commit to 100 percent by 2050.”

“The good news is that despite President Trump we are winning this battle,” said Sanders. “In Vermont and all over this country, we are seeing communities moving toward energy efficiency and we are seeing the price of renewable energy plummet. Our job is to think big, not small. We can win the war against climate change. We can win the war in transforming our energy system and put millions of people to work doing that. We can create a planet that will be healthy and habitable for our children. There is no issue more important.”

“It is no longer a question of if we can power our country with 100 percent renewable energy, it is a question of when,” said Markey. “We know that we have 100 percent of the clean energy resource potential in the United States. And we have 100 percent of the technological capability to achieve this goal. As President Trump launches attacks on investments in climate science and energy innovation, now, more than ever, we need to stand up and fight for our clean energy future. I thank Senators Merkley and Sanders for their help leading this historic clean energy revolution.”

“We are in a race against climate change and need to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible,” said Booker. “This legislation creates a framework for a transition to a 100 percent clean and renewable energy future, while also providing resources to ensure that all of our communities share in the opportunities that will be created.”

On April 27, Merkley, Sanders, and Markey were joined at an event to announce the legislation by environmental, social justice, business, and labor leaders. The speakers discussed ways that local and regional governments and organizations can begin to plan the transition to 100% now, and the critical importance of bold climate action before it is too late.

The 100 by ’50 Act has seven core components driving the complete transition to 100 by ’50:


1. Greening the Grid—Phase-out fossil fuel electricity by 2050 and replace it with clean and renewable energy, through a mandatory fossil fuel phase-out and major investments in clean and renewable energy, storage and grid infrastructure to ensure reliability and affordability.


2. Electrifying the Energy Economy—Electrify as much of our transportation and heating systems with power from the clean electrical grid, through a national zero emissions vehicle standard, major investments in zero emission vehicles and zero emission heating systems, as well as carbon taxing authority for commercial aviation, maritime, and rail. 


3. Clean and Renewable Energy for All—Ensure that low-income and disadvantaged communities share in the benefits of a transition to 100 by ’50, through grants to make clean energy, energy efficiency and public transportation affordable and accessible, and to provide job training in the clean energy sector.


4. Just Transition for Workers—Provide a just transition for the people who work in today’s fossil fuel economy to find good jobs in growth industries of the future, and get fair benefits between jobs or in retirement.


5. Ending New Fossil Fuel Investments—Stop approving major fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline, and end fossil fuel subsidies.


6.  Ensuring American Competitiveness—Make sure that energy-intensive U.S. products maintain a level playing field with products imported from other countries by imposing a carbon tariff for imported carbon-intensive products.


7.  Mobilizing American Resources—Create a major new source of funding to ensure a rapid and smooth transition to 100 by ’50 by auctioning Climate Bonds and investing the funds in the new programs created by the 100 by ’50 Act. The Climate Bonds will ensure climate resiliency throughout our existing infrastructure and communities, and provide planning grants to organizations, communities, tribes and states to develop their own 100% plans and jump-start the transition.

Download a one-page summary of the bill here.