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Welch, Clarke Introduce Legislation to Establish a National Renewable Energy Standard

June 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) today introduced legislation creating a national renewable energy standard that aims to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and public health, and drive the deployment of clean energy resources around the country. The bill would require energy producers in the United States to meet ambitious goals for renewable energy generation.

Seven of the ten warmest years on the planet have occurred in the last seven years and carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to unprecedented levels throughout the past decade. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2018 report, if the global response to the threat of climate change is not aggressive and immediate the impact will be severe and irreversible. The IPCC report indicates that climate change will lead to the destruction of entire ecosystems, significant sea level rise, conflict and mass migration due to drought and uninhabitable lands, and stronger and more intense weather events. The global financial consequences for inaction on climate change has been estimated by Citigroup to be over $40 trillion.

According to the IPCC report, the world needs carbon emissions to decline by nearly half in the next ten years to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The American Renewable Energy Act of 2021 establishes an ambitious renewable energy standard to require retail electricity suppliers to achieve at least 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030. This requirement begins at 20% in 2021 and gradually increases to 70% by 2030. The bill includes provisions to increase deployment of clean energy resources to every region of the country and ensure that investment and benefits are driven to communities most impacted by climate change.

As members of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees energy and environment policy, Welch and Clarke will be advocating to include this legislation in any substantial climate legislation this Congress.

“We are in a climate emergency and we need to address it head on, without delay,” Welch said. “Renewable energy deployment must be a central part of addressing the climate crisis to help provide a more resilient grid, create good paying jobs, drive economic development throughout the country, and support healthier communities. This legislation will put the United States on a new path to cleaner, more reliable energy to combat the climate emergency.”

“I am so proud to once again co-lead this critically important legislative undertaking alongside Congressman Welch to set a nation-wide mandate for renewable energy deployment. It is beyond time the federal government step up and lead the fight to combat the intersectional and multifaceted issues of climate change. This legislation comprehensively addresses a myriad of climate crises by setting poignant and prolific renewable energy targets to support our transition to a zero-emission electricity sector,” said Congresswoman Clarke (D-NY-09). “In addition to tackling the climate crisis, our legislation will also act as a catalyst to prompt much-needed investments in clean energy jobs and infrastructure, particularly in disadvantaged communities and areas transitioning away from outdated and harmful sources of energy. I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to seriously consider this legislation and to seriously consider their response to one of the most urgent crises of our time. This is not a partisan issue; this is a human issue. This is about doing all that we can to preserve our home for future generations.”

“The American Renewable Energy Act lays out a clear and equitable path towards achieving the necessary goal of 70% renewable electricity by 2030. We applaud the hard work and bold leadership Rep. Welch and Rep. Clarke have demonstrated as they work to center this critical fight, and we will support them every step of the way,” said Ann Clancy, Indivisible Sr. Climate Policy Manager

“Each day that passes without climate action, our generation faces the persistent, devastating threat and destruction of the climate crisis. Young people are counting on our elected leaders to pass bold, transformative policy like the American Renewable Energy Act of 2021 to halt the climate crisis with solutions rooted in justice,” said Lauren Maunus, Sunrise Movement Advocacy Director. “Sunrise Movement stands with Representatives Welch and Clarke in their fight to pass this legislation and bring us towards our vision of a Green New Deal.”

"The transition to clean energy has spurred significant job growth across the country for years now, and Congress must seize the opportunity it has to further invest in it. By establishing a strong and just Renewable Portfolio Standard, Congress will help create millions of family sustaining jobs, deliver clean air and water, move us beyond fossil fuels, and put us on the path towards meeting President Biden's climate commitments. The Sierra Club thanks Representatives Welch and Clarke for the American Renewable Energy Act of 2021, and we look forward to working with them to ensure the goals of this critical piece of legislation become a reality," said Liz Perera, Climate Policy Director, Sierra Club.

“We need bold federal policies to drive renewable energy growth and create millions of good jobs building pollution-free communities. Cleaning up the power sector is a first-order priority for confronting the climate crisis and creating just, equitable and inclusive economy run on 100% clean energy. Evergreen welcomes the introduction of the American Renewable Energy Act, and we applaud Representatives Welch and Clarke for their strong climate leadership," said Evergreen Executive Director Jamal Raad

“Americans deserve a world beyond fossil fuels: a world in which workers’ rights, community health, and our shared climate come before the profits of destructive industries. The American Renewable Energy Act (AREA) helps us get there by rapidly expanding truly renewable energy–up to 70% by 2030–in a just and equitable way. What’s more is it gives communities a pathway to a future with cleaner air, water and the opportunity to thrive,” said Ashley Thomson, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace USA.

A factsheet on the bill and complete list of supporting organizations is here.