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O’Malley pushes aggressive climate change platform

O’Malley pushes aggressive climate change platform
© Greg Nash

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says that if he is elected president he will phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050 and convert the United States to clean energy only.

“I believe, within 35 years, our country can, and should, be 100 percent powered by clean energy, supported by millions of new jobs,” O’Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, wrote in a  USA Today op-ed on Thursday. “To reach this goal we must accelerate that transition starting now.”

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O'Malley's target on clean energy is the most aggressive aspect of a climate change platform full of policy proposals that are red meat for liberals and environmentalists.

His national renewable energy standard would call for 100 percent clean energy by 2050 and set a goal of doubling energy efficiency within 15 years.

O’Malley also promised to create a Clean Energy Jobs Corps to partner with communities to make buildings more energy efficient and form green spaces around the country. He said he would retrofit federal buildings to meet higher energy efficiency standards and purchase low- or zero-emission vehicles for the federal fleet. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would “take aggressive action to limit greenhouse gases,” O’Malley wrote, expanding emissions regulations beyond power plants and cracking down on methane leaks at oil and gas production facilities.

O’Malley said he would pursue legislation capping carbon emissions from all sources and seek more financing for energy efficiency upgrades and clean energy research. He said he would reject the Keystone XL pipeline and end offshore oil drilling. 

“We cannot meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or by drilling off our coasts, or by building pipelines that bring oil from tar sands in Canada,” he wrote.

O’Malley’s plan won plaudits from environmentalists on Thursday. 

“Gov. O’Malley is presenting real, concrete solutions to climate change that will secure our country’s economic security and break with the dirty energy politics of the past,” said Tom Steyer, a billionaire climate change activist and founder of the group NextGen.  “He deserves real credit for his vision, and our gratitude.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said his group is “pleased to see leaders like Gov. O’Malley setting their sights on a prosperous and safe clean energy economy that works for all.”

“Leaders worldwide are committing to new steps to cut carbon pollution while the marketplace and public demand are ensuring clean energy solutions rapidly replace fossil fuels to create new jobs and new prosperity,” he said.