Energy & Environment

Renewable electricity standard

Climate change legislation within reach… A President whose vision for revitalizing the economy is based on clean energy jobs… The U.S. reclaiming the world #1 position in wind power generation in 2008 for the first time in decades… Isn’t the future of renewable energy now assured?

Unfortunately, no.  Congress seems poised to let slip away a historic opportunity to secure renewable energy’s newly found momentum.  The single most effective policy to immediately create jobs and boost renewable energy development is a national renewable electricity standard (RES).  The good news is that an RES is included in proposed climate and energy legislation, thanks to Chairmen Waxman and Markey in the House and Senator Bingaman in the Senate. The bad news is that the RES has been weakened to the point that the proposals now won’t provide the strong incentive needed for companies to continue to invest in manufacturing facilities here in the U.S.  For example, the House version calls for 20% by 2020—which sounds reasonable at first blush. But the start date is not until 2012 when, under the current definitions and provisions, the target for renewables is only in effect 3 to 4 percent of total generation, and by 2020, the renewable portion of the standard could be as little as 12%.  

EPA should test the impact of ethanol prior to increasing blend ratios (Sen. Jim Webb)

On Tuesday, along with 20 other Senators, I wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to request more comprehensive testing on ethanol prior to raising the ratio that can be mixed into gasoline. The letter emphasizes that air quality and technical issues should be explored, as well as potential adverse effects on consumers and livestock and poultry producers during these hard economic times. Currently, 10% of U.S. gasoline may be composed of ethanol, and it has been proposed that the amount of ethanol should be increased.

While increased production and use of ethanol has helped advance the goal of energy independence, it has had the unintended consequence of sharply increasing costs for corn and other sources of feed. This in turn has negatively affected beef cattle, dairy and poultry producers.


How to promote greener communities (Rep. Ed Perlmutter)

Yesterday the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity heard my proposed Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act of 2009. If passed, the bill will encourage lenders to give low interest loans and other incentives to people trying to improve the energy efficiency of their homes or businesses. As a chair of the Energy Efficiency Task Force in the House Financial Services Committee I have made it one of my top priorities to promote energy efficiency in our country.

It is America’s duty, as a global leader, to set an example for other nations to start becoming more energy efficient. In order to set this example it is Congress’ responsibility to promote legislation putting our country at the forefront of energy conservation. By passing the GREEN Act we will be closer to accomplishing this goal by promoting the creation of sustainable communities through the encouragement of energy efficiency and developing renewable resources.


ACES energy tax gambles with our future (Sen. John Barrasso)

The House of Representatives is prepared to pass the President’s energy tax, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Actor “ACES”.

ACES is a fitting name for this particular bill, because it gambles with the future of the American people.

In Blackjack, the dealer might have an ace showing, but one card in the dealer’s hand is always hidden.  In this case, the hidden card is the real costs of this bill to the American taxpayer. 

Protecting drinking water from natural gas fracking (Rep. Diana DeGette)

When it comes to protecting the public’s health, it’s not unreasonable to require the oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they are using in our communities – especially near our water sources.

The oil and gas industry is the only industry provided an exemption from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Our bill simply closes an unconscionable Bush-Cheney loophole by requiring these companies to follow the same rules as everyone else.

EPW Republicans call for an open and transparent committee process in global warming debate (Sen. James Inhofe)

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee joined together this week to send a letter calling on Senator Boxer, Chairman of the EPW Committee, to conduct a thorough review of any global warming legislation that moves through the Senate, so as not to “deprive the American people and their elected representatives a public, transparent, and thorough review.”

On Thursday, May 21, 2009, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted H.R. 2454, “America’s Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” out of Committee by a vote of 33-25. The legislation poses sweeping changes to our nation’s energy and environmental laws, and involves complex issues of state equities, federalism, and consumer choice, among others. The magnitude of this legislation was reflected by the lengthy Committee process, including nine hearings this year alone, eight of which were focused exclusively on legislative design and policy. The legislation was also subject to nearly 40 hours of debate during a four day markup the week of May 18th.

Energy Department says carbon sequestration programs 10+ years away (Rep. Joe Barton)

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and I asked the Obama administration five questions about when commercially viable carbon capture and sequestration projects might actually begin reducing CO2 emissions.

The administration sent back a letter that uses nine pages and a ton of words to say very little. Not lost in all the verbiage, however, is the fact that the Waxman-Markey global warming bill’s assumptions on dates for carbon capture and sequestration deployment just won’t work, and Energy Department recognizes that fact. That’s worrisome, because without full-scale commercial deployment on CCS technology, we’re going to have no new coal plants built and ordinary people are going to pay the price in lost jobs and big electric bills.


Pipelines carrying world's dirtiest oil threaten farms, communities, environment

Right now, a broad coalition made up of farmers, steelworkers, tribes, rural citizens and environmentalists is mounting an effort to stop a network of pipelines designed to carry Canadian tar sands oil into the United States.

The tar sands oil carried by the pipelines is the dirtiest oil on earth. Its extraction has destroyed large swaths of boreal forest and poisoned birds in Canada, and its production creates more global warming pollution than any other type of crude oil.

The three massive pipelines – the Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline, the Transcanada Keystone I pipeline, and the Keystone XL pipeline—would run through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Secretary Vilsack takes first stride toward protecting wild forests

Last week Agriculture Secretary Vilsack made a terrific move toward protecting federal wildlands when he  announced that road building or logging in national forest “roadless areas” will need his personal approval.

This is an essential first step in fully restoring the hugely popular Roadless Area Conservation Rule, adopted in 2001 to end piecemeal loss of pristine national forest lands to industrial development.  The Bush administration relentlessly undermined that landmark rule.  Now, except as Secretary Vilsack determines, these last bastions of our natural heritage will stay unspoiled.

Two roads to America's energy future (Rep. Rob Bishop)

In his poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost paints the perfect picture of today’s debate on America’s energy future. Here, Frost describes two paths leading in two different directions, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Much like the subject of Frost’s poem, America today finds itself at a crossroads. There are two diverging paths we can choose with regard to this nation’s energy policy. The road we ultimately choose will indeed make all the difference.

Despite growing job losses, some in Washington, D.C. have decided a recession is the ideal time to impose a massive new cap and trade energy scheme. Cap and trade is Washington-lingo where the federal government imposes a federal ceiling on carbon emissions and then sets up a complicated market for entities to buy and sell the right to emit carbon at levels under the cap.