Coal state Republican proposes clean energy electricity mandate

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020

COAL STATE REPUBLICAN PROPOSES CLEAN ELECTRICITY MANDATE: Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia plans to introduce a bipartisan bill that would impose a clean electricity mandate, becoming the first Republican in recent memory to endorse a mandate for non-emitting power.

McKinley revealed a few details on his plan in an op-ed in the USA Today with his co-sponsor, Rep. Kurt Schrader, a centrist Democrat from Oregon. The duo plan to formally introduce legislation in the coming weeks.

The plan is modest, compared to other Democratic proposals aiming to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury across the entire economy, and many states that have imposed immediate clean electricity standards without delay.

Wait-and-see approach: McKinley’s proposal, by contrast, would wait 10 years until imposing the clean mandate, which only would apply to the power sector and seek to reduce emissions 80% by 2050. In the decade before applying the clean standard, the federal government would spend tens of billions of dollars annually on clean energy technologies (via measures such as grants, loans, tax credits, and public-private partnerships), in order to bring down their cost to make the mandate more tenable. It would target the investments to solar, wind, hydropower and other renewables, as well as nuclear, carbon capture for fossil fuels, direct air capture, energy efficiency, transmission, and storage.

“We need a new approach that combines these ideas—innovation and reformed regulations—in a pragmatic way,” McKinley and Schrader write in the op-ed. “We can transition from an outdated regulatory scheme focused on the Clean Air Act to a new law that would give the government the ability to require the use of clean energy technologies as they become economically competitive.”

Their plan would also prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions in the power sector during the 10-year spending period before the mandate is imposed.