U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Evergreen Action & Data For Progress Highlight New Report Outlining How Congress Can Pass Clean Electricity Standard

WASHINGTON, D.C. [2/4/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—who has been a longtime leader in policymaking to support our clean energy economy—joined Evergreen Action and Data for Progress to launch a new report: A Roadmap to 100% Clean Electricity by 2035.

Last Congress, Sen. Smith introduced legislation to establish a federal Clean Electricity Standard (CES) to achieve net-zero emissions in the electric sector by midcentury and this Congress she will push for the strongest CES that can get passed. Today, she joined experts from Evergreen and Data For Progress, as well as Dr. Leah Stokes, to discuss the report and their insights on possible next steps for lawmakers as we move to pass a federal CES, along with major investments in clean energy, and policies to address equity and environmental justice.

The new report, entitled A Roadmap to 100% Clean Electricity by 2035, lays out a full path for lawmakers to pass a federal Clean Electricity Standard, along with major investments in clean energy, and policies to address equity and environmental justice. 

“Minnesotans know that clean energy is key to our economic future,” said Sen. Smith. “Before the pandemic, clean energy jobs were growing 2.5 times faster than overall job growth in the state. A federal Clean Electricity Standard is crucial to driving a rapid, efficient energy transition, and put the United States in the forefront of technology innovation. It will create millions of good paying jobs across the country, provide for affordable energy, and clean up air and water pollution. I commend Dr. Stokes and Evergreen for this new report, which outlines how Congress has multiple tools to get this important policy done.”

“Building a 100% clean energy economy is critical for the climate, and our greatest economic opportunity. And in Congress, Republican obstruction cannot be allowed to paralyze President Biden’s agenda for a clean energy economic recovery—the Senate can pass a 100% Clean Electricity Standard with a simple 51 vote majority,” said Evergreen co-founder Sam Ricketts, who co-authored the report.

“Congress must act swiftly to pass a CES in climate investment legislation that will transform our energy sector, create millions of good union jobs, and address the ongoing injustices caused by environmental racism,” said Dr. Leah Stokes, report author, Evergreen advisory board member and Assistant Professor at UC Santa Barbara.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris ran and won on policies rooted in creating the clean energy economy of tomorrow, and new polling from Data for Progress and Evergreen shows that voters clearly agree. There is broad support across party lines for a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035 which will launch America’s economy into the future,” said Data for Progress Senior Climate Analyst Danielle Deiseroth. “Now it’s time for Congress to act.”

You can read what more climate leaders are saying about the report below:

“New Mexico is a national leader in implementing clean and renewable electricity because we understand the importance of tackling the climate crisis and bolstering the growing clean energy economy. A federal Clean Electricity Standard will help jumpstart our economy and create good-paying clean energy jobs, which will help Americans rebuild and recover from this pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). “I appreciate the efforts of Evergreen and Data for Progress in providing this roadmap for how Congress can take rapid climate action.”

“Tackling climate change is not an option and building a 100% clean energy economy is our greatest economic opportunity,” said Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “The Biden Administration and Congress can’t let Republican obstruction stand in the way. This paper smartly lays out a way to get there with a number of options for a federal 100% Clean Electricity Standard.”

“We need big, bold action on the defining crisis of our time, and that’s why I made a clean electricity standard by 2035 the cornerstone of my climate mission,” said Democratic Governor of Washington Jay Inslee. “I was thrilled when President Joe Biden incorporated it into his build back better agenda and campaigned on it, and now we must make it a reality. My former team has put forward a roadmap for policymakers on how you implement this bold plan, and importantly notes we can’t let antiquated Senate rules get in the way of climate action. In November, the American people demanded we transition to clean energy, and Evergreen has shown the way.”

“A 100% clean electricity sector is a critical opportunity for creating good jobs and for slashing the carbon pollution that’s causing climate change,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “We should follow the leadership of states like New Mexico that are on the cutting edge of this transformation, by passing a federal Clean Electricity Standard. With this report, Evergreen and Data for Progress have put forward a number of options that Congress should consider as we turn to implementing the full Build Back Better agenda. I look forward to working with my colleagues over the coming months to pass a robust clean energy and infrastructure investment package that includes a CES.”

“This report goes to the heart of the challenges and opportunities before us as we work to build America’s clean economy,” said U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY 20). “Achieving 100 percent clean electricity is essential to our climate goals, and Congress must consider every potential mechanism and procedure at our disposal. My congratulations and thanks to the authors for their important and timely contributions to this debate. Congress must explore the full range of options outlined in the report as we work to enact meaningful climate legislation.”

“My administration and Colorado knows first hand how renewable energy is creating good-paying green jobs, improving public health, helping our economy build back stronger, and lowering costs for ratepayers,” said Democratic Governor of Colorado Jared Polis. “We have been leading the way on clean energy. Now that our country has the support of a President and administration that is guided by science, focused on improving our economy, and is committed to investing in our clean energy future, Congress should take action to pass a federal Clean Electricity Standard.” 

“For years, minority neighborhoods and low income communities have been on the front lines of climate change and the victims of hazardous pollution,” said Heather McTeer Toney, Environmental Defense Fund Climate Justice Liaison and Mom’s Clean Air Force Senior Advisor. “By transforming our nation’s power grid, we can make long-overdue investments that address these environmental injustices and improve public health outcomes. A strong, federal Clean Electricity Standard with near term targets would be a powerful tool to rapidly clean up the power sector in the hardest hit communities while improving air quality for America’s children.”

“Decarbonizing the power sector is the first step in preventing the worst impacts of climate change,” said Minnesota State Rep. Jamie Long (D-MN 61B), sponsor of the Minnesota 100% Clean Energy Bill. “States are leading the way, and it’s time for the federal government to step up, too, by passing a 100% Clean Electricity Standard, such as Sen. Tina Smith’s (D-MN) Clean Energy Standard Act. As lead sponsor of the Minnesota 100% Clean Energy Bill, I commend Evergreen and Data for Progress for this thoughtful report that outlines a number of ways that federal lawmakers can implement a CES that borrows from the leadership of states, and that can overcome legislative hurdles intrinsic to Congress.”