Cantwell, Colleagues Introduce Groundbreaking Bill to Eliminate U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

Cantwell: Bill is “a roadmap to break away from our dangerous overdependence on fossil fuels”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, joined Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) and 31 other senators to introduce legislation directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use existing authorities to put our country on a pathway to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

Under the Clean Economy Act of 2020, EPA is required to build upon existing state, local, and private climate programs and set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2025, 2030, and 2040. Any plan developed by the EPA must achieve rapid reductions at minimal costs, prioritize public health, and support a strong labor workforce. Other federal agencies would be required to do their part to help the nation meet the net-zero goal and help enhance America’s global competitiveness through investments in research and development, innovation, and equitable access to worker training.

“Getting our nation’s energy policy right is the key to America’s future prosperity and global competitiveness. It is the way we can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change that are already being felt in communities across Washington. This landmark bill provides a roadmap to break away from our dangerous overdependence on fossil fuels and reap the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of a more efficient and independent energy system,” Senator Cantwell said.

As a coastal state, Washington is on the front lines of the climate crisis and particularly impacted by rising sea temperatures. A recent analysis by the UW Climate Impact Group reported that, unless we reduce emissions, sea surface temperatures off Washington’s coast are projected to increase approximately 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2040s, and statewide average spring snowpack is projected to decline at least 38-46% by 2050. Low snowpack has cascading effects on Washington agriculture, fisheries, and recreation. For example, when Washington experienced a drought driven by historically low winter snowpack in 2015, seventeen major crops experienced reduced yields, fisheries closed due to warmer waters and reduced streamflows, and the ski season at Stevens Pass was 42% shorter than in previous years.

Throughout her Senate tenure, Senator Cantwell has been outspoken about the urgent threat of climate change and the need for immediate bipartisan action to address the crisis. In the budget passed at the end of last year, Cantwell successfully pushed for tax incentives to help reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, including incentives for biodiesel fuel, wind energy development, and residential and commercial energy efficiency improvements. Cantwell also helped secure $2.85 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, an increase of $469 million over last year, to accelerate the country towards a cleaner and more diverse energy system.

Senator Cantwell has vociferously opposed President Trump’s repeated attempts to roll back bedrock environment protections. She joined her Senate colleagues to introduce legislation that would permanently protect millions of acres of national forest, in response to the president’s attacks on the Roadless Rule, as well as legislation to force the Trump administration to meet the standards established by the Paris Climate Accord. Last year, Cantwell took to the Senate floor to call for bipartisan action on climate change and needed investments in the clean energy economy. In 2018, Cantwell introduced a Senate resolution to affirm the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and call for bold action to combat climate change. Cantwell has also requested input from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian community leaders on the effects of climate change on their communities.

In addition to Cantwell and Carper, the Clean Economy Act of 2020 is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The legislation is supported collectively by major environmental groups, business groups, and organized labor, including:

  • United Steelworkers
  • Utility Workers Union of America
  • Service Employees International Union
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Rivers
  • BlueGreen Alliance
  • Center for American Progress
  • Clean Water Action
  • Climate Reality Project
  • Defend Our Future
  • Earthjustice
  • Environment America
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Green the Church
  • Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Interfaith Power & Light
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Moms Clean Air Force
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Sierra Club
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Voices for Progress
  • Wilderness Society
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
  • American Lung Association
  • American Public Health Association
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
  • Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) 
  • DSM