D.C. passes strong clean energy bill with price on carbon
By Jamie DeMarco
After a multi-year, grassroots-led campaign, today the Washington, D.C., City Council passed the strongest climate legislation anywhere in the country. The Clean Energy D.C. Act of 2018 is a concrete, binding, and specific law that will reduce the city’s emissions 44% by 2032.
The new law will put a small price on carbon and use the revenue to fund a greenbank, low income bill assistance, and job training programs for D.C. residents.The price on carbon will be around $7/ton and is not going to increase. It will be imposed on natural gas and fossil fuel based electricity. While the price may be small, thanks to this bill, as lawmakers in Congress debate the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, they will be meeting in the light of carbon-priced electricity, and warmed by carbon-priced energy.
The bill puts a price on carbon, and it also enacts a long list of ambitious provisions. It will require the city to source 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2032, the strongest clean energy standard in the country. It will require existing buildings to meet certain energy efficiency standards, which hasn’t been done anywhere in North America. It will put an extra tax on the purchase of gas-guzzling cars and use the money to make electric vehicles more affordable. It will require the city to have 100% electric busses by 2030. It authorizes the mayor to enter D.C. into regional transportation pricing initiatives, and lastly, it will change the mission of the Public Service Commission in D.C. to require them to prioritize addressing climate change.
Today, D.C. became the only jurisdiction in the country that has enacted a concrete, mandatory, detailed, comprehensive law to reduce emissions at a pace compatible with keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
This climate victory in the nation’s capital was made possible by the efforts of grassroots organizers and engaged constituents. For three years, a coalition of 100 faith leaders, businesses, low income advocates, climate groups, and neighborhood associations advocated tirelessly to make today’s victory possible. CCL volunteers in D.C. and my own lobbying as a CCL staff member have been critical parts of that campaign. This is further confirmation of what we at CCL have always known: when citizens lobby powerfully and persistently, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Not only that, but putting a price on pollution is an idea whose time has come. We can see the momentum in public opinion, state-level policies like these, and even in the U.S. Congress.
Jamie DeMarco is the State-Level Carbon Pricing Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.