All across the United States, 100% renewable energy policies are being developed and passed. However, many 100% energy policies omit an essential piece of an effective plan for the full transition to a 100% regenerative policy: an explicit commitment to transition completely off of fossil fuels. Some 100% policies are being reframed to leave the door open to nuclear, gas, or some form of fossil fuels.
BIPOC and frontline leaders recognize that many of the state policies that have passed to-date are “carbon-free” policies, not 100% regenerative policies. In some cases, the state bills are “carbon reduction” policies that include renewable and carbon-free electric mandates. The vision of frontline leaders is to achieve a full 100% renewable energy target that is regenerative and just. “Carbon free” or “greenhouse gas free” energy is perceived as problematic because while these policies might emit less carbon or greenhouse gases than fossil fuel energy, they still may contribute to environmental injustice. For example, many carbon free policies have the potential to include large hydroelectric dam energy that destroys Indigenous communities and ecosystems. Other carbon free policies include nuclear energy that is not only dangerous, but also often times mined, transported, and dumped in Indigenous communities, thereby exploiting native sovereignty.
100% regenerative policies should make a clear statement of the ultimate goal of an economy-wide transition off of fossil fuels by a specific date. The date of transition should align with the target dates set to transition to 100% regenerative energy (see Set Aggressive Targets for more). The entire economy should encompass not only electricity, but the entire scope of the energy system, including transitioning fossil fuels out of transportation, buildings, and homes. 100% regenerative policies can not fully meet the climate, economic, and public health needs of impacted communities without the full economy-wide transition off of fossil fuels.
100% regenerative policies should make explicit the types of energy sources that are not acceptable (see “Define What is Renewable” below). The policy should reduce pollution in the place where it is created, therefore not allowing loopholes such as the use of offsets (a false solution where polluters can purchase an offset to fund an environmental project elsewhere and get credit to continue polluting locally) in the transition to 100% regenerative energy.
The policy should also make explicit that no new fossil fuel infrastructure is to be built. The policy should ensure that no new hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), new “clean coal,” nor new gas infrastructure will be included in the transition. For definitions, see Prominent Energy Sources that do not Reflect Our Principles.
An example of policy language comes from California’s Senate Bill 100, approved in 2018: “Achieving the renewables portfolio standard through the procurement of various electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources is intended to provide unique benefits to California, including all of the following, each of which independently justifies the program: Displacing fossil fuel consumption within the state.”