Democratic Candidates Set Goals of 50% Renewable Electricity by 2030

Tom Steyer, who spent $74 million on political races in 2014. He announced that for candidates to receive his support in 2016, they must offer policies that would lead the nation to generate half its electricity from clean sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who has made climate change the center of his Democratic presidential campaign, laid out a plan last month that meets the criteria, winning Mr. Steyer’s blessing. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has called for a tax on carbon emissions, draws thunderous applause at rallies by promising bold action to combat climate change.

Although Mrs. Clinton has emphasized fighting global warming as a priority in earlier speeches, the role of a single large donor, Mr. Steyer, in apparently influencing the details of her proposal was suggested by her press secretary, Brian Fallon. On Twitter he said, “Counting nuclear, as Steyer does, she exceeds his 50 percent goal” for 2030.

But Mrs. Clinton showed some limits to how far she would go to address climate change by refusing to say, once again, if she opposed the Keystone XL pipeline — a litmus test for grass-roots environmentalists. The pipeline would deliver oil from the oil sands of northern Alberta in Canada to Texas.  Environmental groups have sought stronger statements from her opposing hydraulic fracturing, oil trains and drilling in the Arctic.

Hillary Clinton is just half the way there,” said Bill McKibben, head of the group, which has led the grass-roots movement calling for Mr. Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline. “This is a credible commitment to renewable energy, and a recognition that the economics of electricity are changing fast. Now, we need Clinton to show she understands the other half of the climate change equation — and prove she has the courage to stand up against fossil fuel projects like offshore and Arctic drilling, coal leasing in the Powder River basin, and the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Without offering specifics, Mrs. Clinton promised that in coming months she would unwrap additional climate policies, including aid to workers in coal-producing regions who suffer economic harm.

“I am going to set ambitious goals, and I am going to have a real plan that will enable us to meet those goals,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Her campaign put the cost of her clean electricity initiatives at about $60 billion over 10 years, which it said would be offset by ending tax breaks for oil and gas producers.

A January poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future found that two-thirds of Americans said they were more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fightingclimate change.

“This issue now polls better than any other issue for Democrats,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former top climate change official in the Clinton administration. “It’s in Clinton’s interest to talk about the issue, both for primary voters and to highlight Republican vulnerabilities in the general election.”

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