U.S.Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., plans to introduce a set of bills that will requirethe country to generate all its energy from renewable energy sources by 2050.Merkley's proposal is similar to a newly added pledge in the Democratic Party'sdraft policy platformfor the 2016 presidential election that calls for the U.S. to run entirely onclean energy by mid-century.
Merkleymade the promise July 15 at the Netroots Nation Annual Conference in St. Louis.The lawmaker said he would seek input from members of Congress, the public andother stakeholders and introduce the legislation "over the next severalmonths."
"Thereis no more time to wait to address climate change," Merkley said. "Weare living each day with the dire consequences of global warming and they areonly getting worse."
Merkley'soffice did not immediately provide comment on what the bills may entail or whatwould qualify as renewable energy in the legislation. The lawmaker'sannouncement comes shortly after the drafting committee for the DemocraticParty's policy platform adopted its 100%-clean-energy-by-2050 target, and theleaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico made a joint pledge to clean energy's share ofNorth American electric generation to 50% by 2025.
Under the new North American agreement, clean energy couldinclude nuclear energy and fossil fuel-fired plants that have carbon capturetechnology, in addition to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Buteven that more modest requirement is troubling some within the energy sector,particularly coal industry representatives who have pointed out that carboncapture and sequestration systems are not deployed yet on a large commercialscale.
The U.S. currently generates about 67% of its electric powerfrom coal and natural gas, 19% from nuclear energy and close to 14% fromrenewable sources, including conventional hydroelectric generation, accordingto U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
Merkley, who serveson the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introducedlegislation in the past to curb U.S. reliance on fossil fuels. The lawmakerco-sponsored the KeepIt in the Ground Act introduced in November 2015, a bill that would halt newleases and end nonproducing leases for oil, gas and coal production on federallands.