Nov 22, 2019 - Energy & Environment

House Democrats' vague net-zero carbon emissions proposal

illustration of the capitol building as a pendulum knocking into a line of earths
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Top House Democrats are taking a page from the Green New Deal playbook by offering a sweeping proposal that’s aimed at building momentum — but leaves tough choices for later.

Driving the news: Thursday, over 150 House Democrats floated legislation aimed at bringing the country to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

  • Rep. Donald McEachin's bill is co-sponsored by chairs and senior members of several committees, including leaders on Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure.

Why it matters: The bill has no chance in the current Senate and under President Trump. But the choreographed rollout is a sign of organizing on the topic.

  • I got a burst of supportive press releases from establishment green groups — like the Center for American Progress and League of Conservation Voters — as the bill was unveiled.
  • And the backing and the co-sponsorship of various committee leaders very likely signals an effort blessed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though her aides did not respond to an inquiry.

How it works: The plan requires every federal agency to craft plans — which can include regulations, incentives and more — that are aimed at getting the country to the net-zero goal.

  • It also envisions agencies letting Congress know of additional powers they may need.

But, but, but: It leaves a lot of policy details be sorted out later, to say the least.

  • The sweeping bill doesn't wade into any policy specifics or thorny questions — such as the role of nuclear power and carbon capture tech — where the left isn't united.

What's next: Rep. Paul Tonko, a senior Energy and Commerce Committee member, tells The Washington Examiner that the bill is a framework for more detailed legislation that he and others are working on.

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