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White House contender Bloomberg wants coal-free, 100% clean energy by 2050

Former New York City Mayor and 2020 White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg called to shut down all U.S. coal plants by 2030 and for the country to rely fully on clean energy by 2050 as part of a campaign energy plan released Dec. 13.

With the release of the proposal, Bloomberg joins several other top Democratic presidential contenders who have pledged to move the U.S. to 100% clean energy if elected. Those goals are in contrast to President Donald Trump's energy and climate policies, which include withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change and promoting growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production and exports.

"The president refuses to lead on climate change, so the rest of us must," Bloomberg said. "As president, I'll accelerate our transition to a 100% clean energy economy."

Bloomberg's plan includes achieving 80% "clean electricity" by 2028 and cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% within 10 years. Those reductions would stem partly from increased investments in clean energy that Bloomberg hopes will propel the U.S. economy toward 100% clean energy by no later than midcentury.

The plan also seeks to shut down the remaining 251 U.S. coal plants and halt construction of all new gas-fired power plants, which he described as "the leading contributors to dangerous emissions that accelerate climate change."

Those targets would be achieved partly through "increasingly stringent emissions and pollution limits" and reversing regulatory rollbacks under Trump at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bloomberg also vowed to "end all subsidies for fossil fuels," including tax breaks for drilling new oil and gas wells, deductions for royalties paid abroad and deductions for declining well output.

Boosting clean energy

To get the U.S. fully to emissions-free energy, Bloomberg said he would expedite the siting of transmission and clean energy projects and improve the permitting process for offshore wind energy. His plan would also quadruple federal research and development funding for clean energy and grid modernization, with a "more detailed innovation agenda ... forthcoming."

If elected, Bloomberg pledged to extend and expand solar and wind energy tax credits and create new incentives for private companies to improve clean energy technology such as battery storage and green hydrogen. He also vowed to help rural electric cooperatives and public power agencies to finance and manage the clean energy transition and to ensure that low-income families "have equal access to clean energy."

Another plank of Bloomberg's plan is investments in communities that are most vulnerable to climate change, including low-income and tribal communities and people of color. The plan would fund mapping of pollution exposure alongside socioeconomic factors, increase research on the impacts of coal and fossil fuels on overburdened communities, and enhance community-level air and water pollution monitoring.

In rolling out the energy proposal, Bloomberg highlighted his past work to reduce carbon emissions and wean the U.S. off coal-fired power. He noted the 14% drop in New York City's carbon footprint while he was mayor and his work with the Sierra Club to launch the Beyond Coal campaign. More recently, Bloomberg launched the Beyond Carbon initiative, which aims to accelerate coal power retirements and stop construction of gas plants and brings his total investment in fighting global climate change to $1 billion.