DeGette introduces legislation to cut carbon emissions from U.S. electricity producers

Jul 9, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced legislation today to create a federal clean-energy standard that would require U.S. power companies to take steps to eliminate their carbon emissions to help stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis.

The legislation – known as the Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment Act, or CEIDA – would require U.S. electricity producers, which collectively emit nearly one-fourth of all U.S. greenhouse gases, to fully eliminate their net carbon emissions by 2050. It would also provide assistance to current fossil-fuel energy workers to help them find new jobs in a clean-energy economy.

“The science is clear, the only way to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis is to take steps now to cut our carbon emissions,” DeGette said. “At the same time, we need to ensure the steps we take to do that also continue to provide Americans with the affordable, reliable electricity they need.”

The legislation is similar to renewable and clean energy standards already in place in 30 states. If approved, it would create a system to award all U.S. energy providers with a credit for every megawatt-hour of electricity they produce without emitting any carbon in the process. It would also award companies a credit for each ton of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere through a process known as “carbon capture, utilization and storage.”

The plan would require all U.S. power companies to increase their use of existing clean-energy technologies – such as wind, solar and hydropower – while also spurring new investments and the innovation of new clean-energy technologies needed to fully eliminate the power sector's carbon emissions.

Under the terms of DeGette’s bill, U.S. power companies would be required to reduce their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest. However, if the technology needed to achieve that goal is developed sooner, the bill includes provisions that would move that deadline up to as early as 2037. And if there was a breakthrough innovation that allows for the creation of 100% reliable zero-emission electricity before then, the bill would provide companies with financial incentives to implement that new technology immediately.

“To truly solve this climate crisis, we need to start driving the innovation and deployment of new clean-energy technologies today,” DeGette said. “This legislation will not only do that, it will also help bring down the cost of these technologies so other countries can quickly follow suit.”

In addition to expediting the innovation and deployment of new technologies needed to combat the climate crisis, DeGette’s legislation will provide assistance to the workers that depend on the fossil fuel industry, as well the hundreds of minority and low-income communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. The bill would establish an Energy Workforce Transition office at the U.S. Department of Energy to provide workers with on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities. It would also create a new Climate Resiliency Corps that would hire workers to help make our communities more resilient to climate change.

The bill was developed with input from some of the nation’s top environmental organizations – including the National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and Clean Air Task Force – and some of the biggest U.S. power producers, including: Xcel Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Company, American Electric Power, Exelon Power, Tri-State and the Salt River Project.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 80% of U.S. adults support tougher restrictions on power plant carbon emissions as a way to reduce the effects of climate change.

“As the first major U.S. power provider to announce a vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, Xcel Energy supports the Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment Act, and we appreciate Representative DeGette’s leadership on this important issue,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “This bill would establish achievable targets consistent with our carbon strategy and encourage widespread deployment of renewable energy. It also supports the development of new carbon-free generation while taking advantage of existing low carbon resources, such as nuclear.  The legislation supports the reform of clean energy tax credits to bring new technology online quickly. Those factors are key to achieving our environmental goals, while keeping energy service reliable and customer bills low.  We look forward to continuing to work with the congresswoman on this legislation.”

“To ensure that Colorado’s amazing wildlife and natural places endure for generations, we must stave off the worst impacts from climate change by rapidly adopting cleaner sources of energy,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Rep. DeGette’s Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment Act will accelerate the de-carbonization of the U.S. economy in a technology-inclusive way, while creating good jobs in frontline communities through a Climate Resilience Corp designed to restore natural resources, bolster community resilience, and naturally sequester carbon.”

“All too often climate legislation is drafted with zero regard for American workers," said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions. "On behalf of NABTU, I would like to thank Congresswoman Diane DeGette for making construction workers a priority in her legislation while also addressing carbon capture technologies and advanced nuclear. We thank her for an openness and willingness to partner with us to truly understand the challenges that exist for building trades men and women as our country tackles climate change. We look forward to continuing to work with her.”

In addition to DeGette, the legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Scott Peters (D-CA).

A copy of the legislation is available here.

A section-by-section analysis is available here

Click here to see what organizations and companies are saying about the legislation.