The District of Columbia may be pursuing one of the most aggressive attempts in the country to cut carbon emissions with new bill proposed by five D.C. Council members that plans to transition the city’s power grid to relying 100% on renewable energy by 2032, according to The Washington Post. The bill would also ramp up green building standards and allow the mayor to enter to work with Virginia and Maryland on regional agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“What’s the alternative — to do nothing?” council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said in an interview. “We either do our best and encourage others to do their best and the national government to change their position on this, or we give in and accept catastrophe.” Cheh was one of the bill’s introducers, along with Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and members Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8).
Cheh is referring to the federal outlook on climate change, which is much drearier, with President Trump aligning himself with the coal industry and vowing to pull out of the Paris accord about a year ago. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report warning that the detrimental effects of global warming could be more immediate than originally thought, though this has not seemed to sway the White House.
Supporters, who claim that climate change could have major local effects like extremely hot summers and flooding in the Potomac and Anacostia, are hoping to push the bill to a council vote by the end of the year, after 80 witnesses testify at an initial hearing and a committee on business and economic development gives it the green light.
The city is currently on track to receive 50% of its power from renewable energy, and opposers are concerned the bill will be financially costly. Head of the D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye claims to support clean energy efforts but wants to balance energy goals with the “equally important public policy goal of affordability.”
Cheh’s office estimates the bill to add $2.10 to D.C. residents’ average monthly gas bills and less than $1 to their average monthly electricity bills. 20% of that income would go towards financially assisting low-income residents afford while the rest sustainable energy.