WASHINGTON — More than 650 national advocacy and grassroots groups sent a letter today calling on Congress to develop a truly clean, renewable, and just energy standard for electricity as part of an evolving infrastructure package.
To meet its climate goals, the Biden administration is expected to back a national Clean Electricity Standard (CES), which some advocates argue can pass under existing budget reconciliation rules.
But existing CES proposals from prominent Democrats allow for filthy and false solutions such as fracked gas, carbon capture and storage, and factory farm biogas, warn groups including Indigenous Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Oil Change International, and The Democracy Collaborative.
The letter points out that these technologies either fail to reduce emissions or, even worse, create additional pollution burdens in environmental justice communities, “perpetuating the deep racial, social, and ecological injustices of our current fossil-fueled energy system.”
One leading CES proposal, the CLEAN Future Act from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, allows fracked gas and other dirty energy sources to qualify for “clean” energy credits.
“Counting dirty power sources like fracked gas as clean energy is more than foolish — it is dangerous. There will never be technology that magically transforms these polluting practices, which means we’ll be left in the same place that we started, as the climate crisis only intensifies,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Mitch Jones. “The urgency requires clear, honest policies that reject the mistakes of the past and do not sacrifice frontline communities for the sake of political expediency. It’s simple: Clean energy should be clean.”
“An electricity standard that allows methane gas, biomass and carbon capture and storage only perpetuates the racism and energy violence already baked into the system,” said Jean Su, Energy Justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We can’t just build back better. Justice requires we build back fossil free. Proven solutions like distributed solar and storage protect our air, boost climate resilience and safeguard our communities and wildlife. There’s no reason to prop up the ailing fossil fuel and nuclear industries when opportunities for cheaper and safer renewable energies abound.”
“We need a Renewable Energy Standard, not a fracking energy standard,” said Lukas Ross, Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. “The science and justice demand renewables, not lifelines for fossil fuels and other false solutions like nuclear, biomass and carbon capture.”
“Climate chaos is hurting local communities across Mother Earth, and we cannot wait for a just transition from fossil fuels. Natural gas, carbon capture storage and other fossil-based techno fixes, bioenergy and biomass, nuclear and other false solutions such as market-based accounting systems like carbon offsets perpetrate dirty and destructive energy generation,” said Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network. “This country needs to enact a renewable electricity standard that would champion a just energy agenda creating an ambitious carve-out for rooftop and community solar and wind storage and other distributed energy resources. This has to be linked to reducing waste and energy consumption levels, making electricity affordable, and part of building Indigenous nations, rural and local economies.”
“CEJA members and partner organizations have long held that a Just Transition to a regenerative, clean energy economy requires addressing the roots of the climate crisis,” said Alexis Sutterman, Program Associate at the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “This means rejecting false solutions — such as gas, biogas, and carbon capture — that prop up the fossil fuel industry at the expense of frontline communities’ health and safety. It also requires building the new through an unwavering commitment to genuinely clean, renewable energy and energy resources that prioritize benefits and opportunities for environmental justice communities.”
“We need a renewable electricity standard that commits the United States to a transformation of our energy system towards solar, wind, and other renewable resources — not false solutions like carbon capture and sequestration,” said Johanna Bozuwa, Manager of the Climate & Energy Program at the Democracy Collaborative. “In particular, the United States should actively open up space for distributed renewables like rooftop solar so that we are building the most resilient and justice-centered energy system possible.”
The letter calls for a truly renewable energy standard that reaches the goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, with an emphasis on distributed energy resources and storage. Such a plan should exclude polluting practices and unproven technologies like waste incineration, carbon capture, and factory farm biogas.
A recent analysis shows that over 60 percent of the electricity generated by gas power plants in 2019 could generate clean energy compliance credits even under the most aggressive existing CES proposal. A separate technical report highlights the failure of the CLEAN Future Act to meaningfully reduce emissions over the next decade and beyond.