June 26, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I–Maine) joined a group of his colleagues to introduce legislation to achieve at least 50 percent renewable electricity nationwide in just 15 years – putting the U.S. on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050. Starting in 2020, the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) Act of 2019 would require electricity providers across the country to increase their supply of renewable energy each year. The senators’ RES Act meets the recommendations of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 C Special Report, which outlines the standards that must be met worldwide to respond to the existential threat of climate change.
“Climate change is an urgent threat to our planet that can dramatically alter ecosystems, threaten our national security, and cause major damage to local economies. Maine people are seeing its impacts in our waters, forests and lands, and understand that to respond to a crisis of this magnitude, we need a serious emphasis on renewable energy,” said Senator King. “By setting aggressive but realistic targets, we have an opportunity to mitigate the impacts of this phenomenon, and create good, high-paying jobs in the process. This will create new economic opportunities, and fulfill our responsibility to preserve this world for the next generation. In short: it’s the right thing to do.”
“Reducing carbon pollution in the electricity sector is critical to addressing the urgent threat of climate change,” said Kristin Jackson, Federal Outreach Coordinator for Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We commend Senator King for supporting the Renewable Energy Standard Act of 2019, which would set the U.S. on an ambitious yet realistic path to reduce carbon emissions and generate at least 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2035. This bill is well-aligned with recent progress made in Maine and many other states across the nation to fast-track our transition to clean energy. Now we need Congress to enact equally ambitious policy at the federal level.”
Earlier today, Governor Janet Mills signed legislation into law that makes Maine among the states that have passed legislation to require at least 50 percent clean energy generation by 2030. However, the U.S. will be unable to take significant steps in addressing climate change unless every state increases its clean energy deployment. The RES would set a national standard to ensure that investment in renewables and fighting climate change is a nationwide priority, without overburdening states who currently produce less renewable energy power.
Specifically, the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019 would:
• Create a federal baseline standard that requires each retail electricity provider to increase its supply of renewable energy by a percentage of total retail sales each year, starting in 2020.
• Achieve at least 50 percent electricity from renewables in the U.S. by 2035, roughly double business as usual and nearly triple current levels (17.6% in 2018).
• Require the Secretary of Energy to submit a plan to Congress for changes to the program post-2035 to achieve zero-carbon electricity by 2050.
In addition to Senator King, the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019 is supported by Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). The legislation has received endorsements from a wide range of groups such as the Maine Renewable Energy Association, Natural Resources Council of Maine, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Appalachian Voices, Climate for Health, ecoAmerica, Environment America, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environmental Working Group, Health Care Without Harm, Interwest Energy Alliance, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Rocky Mountain Institute , Sierra Club, Solar Energy, Industries Association (SEIA), Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Wilderness Society.