BUSINESS AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS OUTLINE PRINCIPLES FOR AN ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE SENATE ENERGY BILL
As the U.S. Senate once again takes up consideration of national energy policy, it must do more than merely produce legislation that is better than the bills approved by U.S. House of Representatives
WASHINGTON DC -- As the U.S. Senate once again takes up consideration of national energy policy, it must do more than merely produce legislation that is better than the bills approved by U.S. House of Representatives which - overall - have grown progressively worse for sustainable energy technologies.
Instead, the Senate should seize this once-in-a-decade opportunity and craft an energy bill to accomplish three primary goals:
* substantially reducing the level of energy imports;
* slashing the emission of greenhouse gases; and
* making the transition from polluting energy sources like nuclear power and fossil fuels, which threaten national security and the environment, towards domestically-available renewable energy resources, energy efficient technologies, and a sustainable hydrogen economy.
To realize those goals, national energy legislation should incorporate strong renewable energy and energy efficiency provisions including the following:
* a national renewable portfolio standard (e.g., 20% by 2020);
* a national renewable fuels standard (e.g., 20% by 2020);
* a long-term (i.e., 5+ years) production tax credit that benefits the cross-section of commercially available and emerging renewable energy technologies and provides comparable financial incentives for tax-exempt entities such as municipal utilities;
* a package of renewable energy investment tax credits benefitting the mix of domstically-available renewable energy technologies;
* national standards for net metering and interconnection to facilitate the development of distributed renewable energy technologies and enhanced transmission and distribution grid reliability;
* budget authority for federal agencies to increase aggressively their purchase of electricity generated from domestically available renewable energy sources;
* authorization levels for federal renewable energy and energy efficiency program budgets that are at least twice as high as current levels;
* improved CAFE standards that require fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks to be improved by no less than 50% over the next decade and doubled within two decades;
* substantially improved efficiency standards for lighting, appliances, utilities, and industrial motors;
* tax incentives to promote efficiency improvements in new and exisiting buildings and to encourage the purchase of energy-efficient appliances, automobiles, and heavy-duty vehicles;
* permanent authority for federal agencies to enter into Energy Service Performance Contracts without restrictions of any kind to facilitate efficiency upgrades in government buildings; and
* provisions for reducing the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including - but not limited to - a cap-and-trade system, enhanced incentives for voluntary programs, formal designation of CO2 as a pollutant subject to EPA regulation, and expanded funding for research amd implementation of GHG control technologies.
National energy legislation should not include new federal expenditures, tax subsidies, or policy initiatives designed to facilitate:
* construction of new nuclear power plants;
* drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;
* siting and building of Liquified Natural Gas facilities, particularly in communities opposing them, which will facilitate greater dependence on energy imports;
* drilling for, or mining of, fossil fuels in environmentally sensitive areas; or
* roll-backs of existing environmental and consumer protections.
Failure to pursue and enact energy legislation that embraces these principles will only assure a worsening of the energy problems now facing the United States, delay the transition to a sustainable energy economy, and ensure that the Congress will have to continue to revisit this issue over and over again in the future until it gets it right.