In Case You Missed It: Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley continued his leadership in Senate climate policy this week, introducing three climate-related pieces of legislation. With multiple cosponsorships from 2020 contenders, Merkley’s policy proposals are pushing the national conversation on climate forward.
Giving Millions of Americans the Ability to Choose Sustainable Investments
On Tuesday, Merkley announced the introduction of the Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act of 2019, which gives federal employees the ability to divest from the fossil fuel industry—and reduce the financial liability of fossil fuel asset losses—by offering a Climate Choice investment option for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
Not only does investing in fossil fuel corporations fan the flames of climate chaos, it can hurt investors. Studies have shown that portfolios without fossil fuels have outperformed those with fossil fuels in recent years.
READ MORE from KTVZ: Merkley bill lets federal workers divest from fossil fuels.
Cutting the number one source of carbon pollution through 100% Zero Emission Vehicles
On Wednesday, Merkley introduced the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019, which presents a bold plan for transitioning the United States to 100% zero-emission vehicles.
This legislation, which was also introduced in the House by Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA-49), would set a Federal Zero-Emissions Vehicle standard to boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The standard would require that by 2030, 50% of sales for new passenger vehicles are ZEVs, and ramp up 5% each year to 100% by 2040. The ZEV standard would be applied to the sale of new cars.
According to a 2016 report issued by the American Lung Association, transitioning to zero-emission vehicles would deliver $33 billion in total health and climate savings by 2050. The 90% reduction in the pollution that causes smog and soot would translate to 195,000 fewer lost workdays, 96,000 fewer asthma attacks, and 2,200 fewer premature deaths. The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act is cosponsored by Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Permanent Protection for the Arctic Ocean from Oil and Gas Corporations
On Thursday, Merkley introduced the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2019, legislation to prohibit irresponsible and unacceptable drilling that puts at risk the health of local ecosystems, communities, and the global climate. The announcement came just days after 84 degree temperatures in the Arctic coincide with reports that carbon dioxide has hit its highest level in human history.
The Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2019 would prevent any new or renewed leases for the exploration, development or production of oil, natural gas or any other mineral in the Arctic Ocean planning area.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removed Arctic leases from its five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf in 2016. But in January 2018, the Trump Administration released a new draft proposal to reopen of offshore drilling leases three years ahead of schedule. Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders have cosponsored this legislation.