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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The National Wildlife Federation is sharing with lawmakers a tax credit proposal to help bring cleaner electricity to parts of the country that are currently powering with coal and natural gas.

Why it matters: With a divided government likely, any climate and energy policy is probably going to come in the form of relatively narrow spending proposals like this.

Driving the news: The proposal would give varying levels of tax credits to utilities depending how high carbon emissions are in the state's electricity, according to Shannon Heyck-Williams, the group's climate and energy policy director. The higher the emissions, the bigger the subsidy offered to generate cleaner electricity.

“We can’t address climate effectively and meet climate goals with large chunks of the country left out of this clean energy boom.”
— Shannon Heyck-Williams, National Wildlife Federation

How it works: States whose electricity grids already have a lot of cleaner electricity, like California and Washington State, would get a 10% tax credit. States with electricity heavily powered by coal and natural gas, such as many in the Midwest, could get up to a 45% tax credit.

  • If a new electricity plant emits less carbon dioxide than an average natural-gas plant, “then it qualifies for the tax credit,” says Heyck-Williams.
  • The proposal is similar to a bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), except with the additional layer that adjusts the tax credit level depending on how high emissions are in a state's electricity mix.

What they’re saying: The proposal could have bipartisan support.

  • Heyck-Williams says her initial conversations with congressional Republican offices have been positive and that conservatives prefer technology-neutral subsidies over tech-specific kinds.
  • Julian Brave NoiseCat, vice president of policy and strategy at the liberal Data for Progress, says he is “particularly interested” in this type of policy given the political limits of a (probable) Republican-controlled Senate.
  • “That’s probably the upper limits of our ambition, which pains me to say,” said NoiseCat, in a nod to his and other progressives’ preferences for more sweeping proposals like the Green New Deal.

Go deeper:

Subsidizing and innovating away climate change

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Updated 2 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for decades.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"