Energy & Environment

Senate climate hawks announce 500-day energy independence plan

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) arrives to the Capitol for the first vote of the week on July 12
Greg Nash

Senate Democrats who are part of the chamber’s Climate Change Task Force are calling for a multistep strategy to achieve energy independence by transitioning to renewable energy over the next 500 days.

At a meeting of the task force Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) outlined a series of reforms that he said would achieve the goal without increased reliance on fossil fuels.

The group has called for lawmakers to permanently codify President Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports through the Severing Putin’s Immense Gains from Oil Transfers Act, which Markey introduced at the beginning of the month.

It also is pushing for passage of another Markey-sponsored bill, the Strategic Reserve, Appliance, Vehicle and Energy Efficiency for Consumers Act, which is co-sponsored by task force member Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). The bill would offer short-term consumer relief by releasing the equivalent of 500 days of Russian oil imports from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and authorize the president to set emergency energy efficiency targets.

The task force is further calling for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, one of the major environmental prongs in the sweeping Build Back Better Act. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) seemingly torpedoed the bill in December when he said he would not vote for it, but he has said the act’s climate provisions are among the aspects he supports and could back in a smaller package.

Markey was joined at the task force meeting by Heinrich and Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“Real energy independence is about freedom. It’s about freedom from a volatile globalized oil commodity, from high gas prices and from pollution, dirty air and dirty water — especially within Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, which bear the heaviest burden of pollution,” Markey said at the group’s meeting.

“An energy freedom strategy that stops funding wars and starts protecting our health and our pocketbooks is the real energy independence strategy. And this is the only acceptable energy strategy for the American people,” he added.

Republicans and oil industry figures have pointed to spiraling gas prices amid the Ukraine crisis as an incentive to increase fossil fuel exploration in the U.S. Environmentalist and progressive figures, however, have said domestic drilling will not address the inherent volatility of the oil market and that it instead illustrates the need for a hastened transition to renewables.

Tags Ed Markey Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Joe Manchin Martin Heinrich Tina Smith Tom Carper

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