More than 450 organizations and individuals on Wednesday delivered a letter (pdf) calling on U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would work toward a 100 percent renewable energy economy by 2050.
The twin bills—known as H.Res. 540, introduced in the House by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and S.Res. 632, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)—would set the goal of meeting the country's energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy and ensuring that all people, especially those in frontline communities, have access to clean resources.
"We need to transform the way we power the country, and we still have a long way to go. That is why we are calling for swift action to transition to 100 percent renewable energy and to ensure that the transition to clean energy helps lift up low-income and minority communities that have suffered some of the worst impacts of pollution," the letter reads.
"America needs a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy and our leaders need to get on board."
The signatories range from organizations such as Earthjustice, the Working Families Organization, and Public Citizen, to various state chapters of 350.org, Environment America, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, as well as dozens of elected officials and academics.
"Renewable energy is virtually unlimited and pollution-free, protecting our communities from global warming and other harmful pollution while revitalizing our local economies," said Rob Sargent, energy program director at Environment America. "America needs a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy and our leaders need to get on board."
The letter and the legislation come as a new poll conducted by Yale University and George Mason University finds that fully seven in 10 Americans believe that the U.S. should cut down on greenhouse gases and pursue renewable energy goals. The survey, which polled more than 1,200 people nationally, found that the respondents supported limiting C02 emissions from coal-powered plants even if that meant raising the cost of electricity.
Both the House and Senate resolutions recognize that low-income and communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution and other impacts of climate change.
As Felipe Floresca, vice president of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, explains, that makes it particularly important to ensure that those communities are not left behind.
"With energy democracy, the goal is 100 percent renewable energy for all."
Emerald Cities Collaborative
"We cannot afford to have an energy divide and create energy ghettos. There is an energy democracy movement developing with a clear intent of utilizing renewable energy as a critical tool to promote local sustainability, economic development and community resilience. With energy democracy, the goal is 100 percent renewable energy for all," Floresca said.
Markey, who co-sponsored the Senate legislation, said, "Given the urgency of combating climate change, achieving 100 percent renewable energy isn't just possible, it is necessary. By moving to 100 percent renewable energy, we can engage in job creation that is good for all creation. The United States must lead the global clean energy revolution."
Grijalva added, "Climate change is both the greatest threat facing human kind, and also a tremendous economic opportunity if our nation rises to meet it. Every day our energy future becomes more obvious—either we live in the past and continue to degrade our environment, or we embrace the future of renewable energy which ensures our continued success on a global scale and leaves our children a clean and healthy planet."