WASHINGTON – A new analysis from Friends of the Earth and the Partnership for Policy Integrity shines a critical light on the CLEAN Future Act, a policy framework to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 recently released by Chairman Frank Pallone of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The centerpiece of the program is a technology neutral clean energy standard. This would allow all energy sources emitting less than .82 metric tons, or 1807 pounds, of CO2 equivalent per megawatt hour to qualify under the mandate. The analysis released today highlights how communities and the climate will be negatively impacted by setting the standard so high.
“This looks like quite a lot of fossil fuel for a clean energy standard,” said Lukas Ross, senior policy analyst at Friends of the Earth. “We have a decade left to prevent the worst of the climate crisis and the Democrats are recycling inadequate emissions-trading gimmicks from years ago. Chairman Pallone’s plan is a gift to Big Oil and a recipe for another generation of fracking.”
“We’re running out of time to make the steep emissions cuts necessary to prevent climate catastrophe,” said Laura Haight, US Policy Director for the Partnership for Policy Integrity. “Chairman Pallone and House Democrats need to set far more ambitious climate protection goals than this.”
Some of the key findings include:
- All of the most common types of natural gas power plants would be eligible forms of “clean energy” under the standard, even without hypothetical carbon capture technologies.
- The Pallone standard sets a target rate for carbon intensity at 1,807 CO2e lbs/MWh, nearly twice as dirty as the current national average. This is a significant failure of ambition at a time of climate crisis.
- The original Obama administration Clean Power Plan calculated power sector carbon reductions based on a 2012 emissions baseline. Over half the states in the country had lower average emissions in the 2012 baseline than would be required by the CLEAN Future Act.
- The Trump Administration recently proposed dismantling an Obama-era standard that set emission standards for new coal plants. But the Trump proposal for supercritical coal—1,900 pounds of CO2 per MWh—still only barely falls out of the range proposed in the CLEAN Future Act.
- Under the proposed “technology neutral” framework, wood-fired biomass power plants would likely be treated as zero-emission renewable energy, even though their stack emissions typically exceed 3,000 pounds of CO2 per MWh, far higher than coal plants.