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Sen. John Barrasso. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

California Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) is proposing a new Enhanced Clean Energy Standard (CES) as the next step in curbing carbon emissions in California.

The big picture: Mayes' bill would create an enforceable 80% CES that's "technology neutral," meaning that utility companies would be required to limit greenhouse gas emissions, but would be free to choose the technology with which to do so. This approach has been popular among conservatives recently, and may please progressive climate activists, too.

How it works: The legislation sets a zero-emissions standard, but doesn't specify any preferred energy technology. This tech-neutral approach would help control costs of de-carbonization by allowing businesses to choose any qualifying zero-emissions energy source based on affordability and business needs. That leaves the door open for non-renewable, zero-emissions sources to qualify for compliance plans, including nuclear, hydro, carbon capture and market entry for yet-to-be-discovered energy technology.

Conservatives have been advocating for this tech-neutral concept in a number of ways:

Between the lines: Republicans are generally more comfortable with climate action when policies go beyond wind and solar solutions to include all energy and technology options for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Tech-neutral advocates hope that preserving as much freedom of choice as possible will make climate change legislation both economically practical and environmentally effective.

  • This approach can also accelerate affordable decarbonization because it allows all existing zero-emissions energy technology to compete.

The bottom line: Mayes’ bill may be the best chance for electric utility companies and climate change advocates to cooperate on meeting California’s climate goals: Currently, there is a binding requirement for 60% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and a non-enforceable goal of 100% of electricity from zero-emissions sources by 2045. Mayes' bill would increase the enforceable zero-emissions target to 80% by 2038.

Sarah E. Hunt is the co-founder and CEO of Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy.

Go deeper

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

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Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

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