Ahead of the Peoples Climate March on April 29, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) stood beside environmental advocacy leaders on Thursday morning, April 27, in Washington, D.C., to introduce legislation that would completely phase out fossil fuel use by 2050.
“If an asteroid were hurtling its way towards our planet, we’d do everything in our power to stop it. We must do no less to act on climate,” said Merkley at the press conference, which was broadcast live on his Facebook site.
McKibben noted, “Instead of making changes around the margins, this bill would finally commit America to the wholesale energy transformation that technology has made possible and affordable, and that an eroding climate makes utterly essential. This bill won’t pass Congress immediately – the fossil fuel industry will see – but it will change the debate in fundamental ways.”
Indeed, while Merkley staffers declined to outline specific policy proposals ahead of the bill’s rollout, according to a report by The Huffington Post, the strategy they described is twofold: encouraging the electrification of vehicles, home heating, and other combustion-powered aspects of daily life on the one hand; and converting the power grid to zero-emissions energy sources on the other.
The 100 by ‘50 Act would put a halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, such as TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as fracking operations facing opposition from tribes and landowners. Instead of new fossil fuel infrastructure, the bill would invest hundreds of billions of dollars per year in clean energy – enough to create 4 million jobs.
“While fossil fuel billionaires supporting Trump’s administration put profits before people, we now have a legislative roadmap to phase out this dirty industry once and for all,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “This bill deploys clean energy in communities that need it most and keeps fossil fuels in the ground. From Standing Rock to the Peoples Climate March, movement leaders have been calling for these solutions for years. This bill is proof that organizing works, and it’s the beginning of an important conversation.”
The advocacy organization further said, “The content stands in bright contrast to Trump’s vision of a more polluted America where fossil fuel billionaires profit at the public’s expense. While this precedent-setting bill is unlikely to pass during the Trump Administration, similar bills are being considered at the state and local level in California, Massachusetts, New York, and elsewhere across the country.”
Speakers at the press conference also included representatives from climate and environmental justice groups, progressive organizations, and more. A crowd of supporters carried banners and signs reading “100% Clean Energy for All,” and, “Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground.”