Schumer: Infrastructure bills would curb emissions 45 percent

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer argued Wednesday the dual infrastructure bills envisioned by Democrats would cumulatively curb greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2030, short of President Joe Biden's plan to slash them by 50 percent in that timeframe.

However, the New York Democrat said the congressional action — taken in conjunction with administrative actions by the Biden administration and state efforts to combat climate change — would hit Biden's target. He cautioned the numbers would change and be updated as new policies are crafted and incorporated.

"At the same moment that historic drought and wildfire threaten the West and powerful floods and hurricanes impact large swaths of our country, we are on the precipice of the most significant climate action in our country’s history," he wrote in a dear colleague letter. "I do not believe we have the luxury of failure if we are to provide a good future for ourselves and our children."

Biden pledged in April to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. He has also vowed to reach 80 percent clean electricity from utilities in the same period.

It's unclear how Schumer's analysis, which he said he developed through "the best available data from a wide range of organizations that specialize in policy analysis," will land with climate hawks. They have loudly vowed they would not bless an infrastructure deal without sufficient climate change provisions for months.

Schumer argued two envisioned policies in particular would drive nearly two-thirds of emissions reductions.

One is a clean electricity payment program, developed by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), that would pay utilities for hitting targets for boosting their share of clean energy, while penalizing those that fall short. The other is a series of clean energy and electric vehicle tax incentives pushed by the Senate Finance Committee.

Schumer acknowledged the numbers would continue to change, noting members of his caucus are "developing additional ideas to reduce carbon emissions and I look forward to reviewing them."

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