Massachusetts Lawmakers Want To Ban Fossil Fuel By 2050

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Two Massachusetts lawmakers introduced legislation over the weekend to phase out fossil fuel use by 2050.

Democratic state Reps. Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker pushed legislation requiring Massachusetts to get 100 percent of its electricity from green sources by 2035, and end fossil fuel use in heating and transportation by 2050.

“This legislation provides a bold step by placing the Commonwealth on a path to a cleaner and more sustainable future,” Garballey told the green group Environment Massachusetts. “It encourages job creation, protects and sustains our natural resources, reduces our carbon footprint and would benefit the health and well-being of our citizens in immeasurable ways.”

The bill, dubbed “An Act to transition Massachusetts to 100 per cent renewable energy,” would significantly increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). RPS forces utilities to buy a minimum amount of solar and wind power each year.

Massachusetts got 61.5 percent of its electricity from natural gas and another 24 percent from nuclear power in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The state got only 8.5 percent of its power from wind, solar and biofuels in 2016.

Democrats control both houses of Massachusetts’ state legislature, so any serious opposition to the measure would come from the state’s Republican Gov. Charles Baker. Baker has previously signed legislation promoting green energy and supports the state’s current renewable portfolio standard.

When running for governor in 2010, Baker called green energy an “important investment in our future,” and said that it “deliver[ed] measurable cost savings.” However, Baker has also stated that he hopes to lower the state’s power prices.

Several attempts by countries to power everything with 100 percent green energy have failed. Germany’s attempt triggered serious instability in its power grid and several island nations which are well suited for wind and solar power were forced to revert to conventional generators.

The U.S. has less than 1 percent of the energy storage capacity necessary for wind and solar to meet the green goal of powering America with “100 percent green energy,” according to a previous analysis of federal data by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

TheDCNF examined capacity data from the EIA and concluded that America only has the capacity to store 21,378 megawatts of energy — 99 percent of which is done by pumping water up a hill. Wind and solar power advocates acknowledge green energy only works if there’s a method of storing power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

Even though America is producing more energy than ever before thanks to a boom in oil and natural gas, energy storage hasn’t increased fast enough to make wind or solar power feasible. America also isn’t building enough storage capacity to change this fundamental equation, as the country added a mere 221 megawatts of storage capacity in 2015.

The lack of energy storage capacity is one of the reasons that solar and wind power only accounted for 0.6 and 4.7 percent of the electricity created in America during 2015, according to the EIA.

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