Community leaders Vien Truong (Green For All) and Elizabeth Yeampierre (UPROSE) at DC press conference next to SSenators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey

Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey stood beside movement leaders to introduce legislation that will completely phase out fossil fuel use by 2050. The “100 by ’50 Act” outlines a bold plan to support workers and to prioritize low-income communities while replacing oil, coal and gas with clean energy sources like wind and solar.

“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. 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% by 2050.”

“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,” said Sanders. “Our job is to think big, not small. 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.”

“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.

On Thursday, 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 Merkley-Sanders bill brings to a national level the work we’ve done in New York to champion climate legislation that prioritizes the needs of environmental justice communities and supports a just transition away from the fossil fuel extraction economy towards the regenerative energy economy,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE and leader with the NY Renews coalition. “The standard that this federal bill sets should compel state leaders to rise to the challenge of pushing equally ambitious climate agendas. It is imperative that policy makers on the state and federal levels follow the lead of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis — low-income communities of color — and put justice at the core of their agenda.”

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.

Adapted from original article on KTVZ.com