There’s a new bill on the table, and it's going to be a game-changer.
Here are six details that make the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act unique and necessary:
1. It's aggressive.
Let’s be honest: we’re running out of time. The OFF Act ensures that the U.S. make a just transition to 100% clean renewable energy by 2035 (and 80% by 2027). We must act now.
We've already seen dramatic changes with a 1°C rise in global temperature. If we get to 2°C, climate models predict that more than a dozen irreversible tipping points could be triggered, imposing huge costs on people and planet. Scientists, activists and delegates to Paris believe we must stay below 1.5°C. The Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act), introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), would help keep us safely below that.
2. It’s necessary -- if, you know, we want to stop extreme climate chaos.
The “leaked” copy of the National Climate Assessment shows sea level rise, accelerated temperature increase, and predicts that our agriculture and coastal communities will continue to be punished by climate and extreme weather events. The impact that Harvey had on Houston and surrounding communities is devastating and we still don’t know the full extent of the damage. More than 1000 people were killed in massive flooding in South Asia. Yet, as the earth continues to warm, extreme weather events are only going to grow worse and more frequent.
Beyond extreme weather, communities are also experiencing things like fracking-related earthquakes and fossil-fuel pollution. Companies like Exxon have tried to cover it up, but people aren’t fooled. The OFF Act is calculated to derail the destructive forces of fossil fuel corporations and instead move us to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035.
3. It's focused on people, not polar bears (but it will help the polar bears, too).
It’s no secret that communities of color and low-income areas are facing the worst climate impacts. The terrible truth about stories like Exxon blatantly pumping toxins into a black community for decades, or working-class Sun Belt communities suffering from extreme heat, flooding and air pollution (on top of struggling to pay bills and lack of healthcare) is that they are the rule, not the exception.
That’s why the OFF Act requires that people in impacted communities have a leading role in developing clean energy plans. It also requires that people employed by the fossil fuel industry benefit from the huge influx of jobs created by a rapid switch to renewable energy infrastructure. It establishes an equitable transition fund and workforce development center -- and it pays for these things by cutting off federal tax breaks for the fossil fuels industry, something we should have done long ago.
4. It creates jobs - and stops pipelines.
We pay trillions of dollars to subsidize fossil fuels. That’s absurd. The truth is, this industry isn’t environmentally, morally OR economically responsible. So what would happen if we stopped federal fossil fuel subsidies? What would happen if we stopped new major fossil fuel projects?
The OFF Act does just that -- because here’s what would happen: we create tens of thousands of jobs in the renewable sector. We stop building infrastructure for the fossil fuels that are killing us. We create new employment opportunity. We prioritize jobs for low-wealth communities and communities of color, who have been impacted first and worst by fossil fuel byproducts.
We pave the path for real energy independence.
5. It’s direct - it bypasses false solutions.
When Exxon, BP and Shell are cheering on your climate solutions, you know that you’re doing something wrong. Market-based solutions are a prime example. When you’re paying to pollute, here’s the thing: You’re still polluting.
Cap-and-trade deals don’t reduce fossil fuel extraction. And that’s why big polluters love them: They can act like they’re working to cut emissions, but keep doing whatever makes them the most profits.
Ditto to “fake” renewable solutions, like fracked gas, nuclear power, trash incinerators and using chicken waste as energy. The OFF Act spells out exactly what we need with renewable energy -- clean solar, wind and geothermal.
6. It’s feasible - technologically and politically.
Thousands of people are working to stop dirty pipelines, ban fracking and achieve 100% renewable energy in their communities across the country. Thousands more are joining marches, signing petitions and calling their elected officials demanding a clean energy revolution. Renewable energy businesses are starting to make real gains. This year alone, the bipartisan US Conference of Mayors backed a commitment to move to 100% renewable energy by 2035 -- and elected officials at every rung of government are doing the same.
We have the technology. We know we have to do this. We have the passion and the power to make it work. Let’s become relentless now -- and celebrate the benefits for generations to come!