DC Council Likely To Pass Most Stringent Renewable Energy Mandate In The Country

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Residents living within the nation’s capital should expect to see their cost of living rise after D.C. Council members pass what appears to be the most aggressive climate change bill to date.

Democrat council member Mary Cheh is pushing comprehensive legislation that calls for a litany of environmental proposals. Most notably, her bill mandates that Washington, D.C., derive 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032, a requirement more ambitious than a new law in Hawaii — the only U.S. state to pass a 100-percent mandate. Cheh’s bill would also fund more energy efficiency updates by slapping ratepayers with higher utility bills. Additionally, the legislation calls for tying the vehicle excise tax to fuel efficiency as a means to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient cars.

While many bills never see the light of day, this proposal is different: It touts support from a majority of the D.C. Council. Out of the 13 members who sit on the D.C. Council, seven have already backed Cheh’s bill.

“Through this bill, D.C. can lead the nation on climate protection legislation that can benefit D.C. families and businesses,” stated Mark Rodeffer, D.C. Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club, according to WAMU.

The Sierra Club has worked extensively to push renewable energy mandates in other state capitals.

Other environmentalists, however, were disappointed with the bill because it did not also include a fee on carbon emissions.

“Disappointed and surprised,” stated Camila Thorndike, a leader of the carbon tax campaign for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“There’s been no analysis done on this package,” Thorndike said. “That was one of our points of frustration, is that we’ve provided so much modeling, and consideration of what the economic impacts, what the emission impacts, what the equity impacts were going to be of what we were putting forward.” (RELATED: Hawaii Signs Laws To Be ‘Carbon Neutral’ In 27 Years)

If passed, Washington, D.C., would have a more stringent renewable energy mandate than anywhere else in the U.S.

Hawaii became the first in the country to pass a renewable mandate in June. However, its bill was more lax, with a total renewable energy target by 2045 — 13 years later than the D.C. proposal. Other states might soon be following Hawaii’s example — California is also likely to pass a 100-percent mandate, and other Democrat-controlled state capitals are considering their own targets.

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