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House Passes Energy Bill
I think Christmas just came early in Washington. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the energy bill, 235-181. It was a monumental task, but we have a monumental problem on our hands in shifting this nation to a new, clean energy future. Along with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s just-passed Climate Security Act, this marks a new era in Congress and a new approach to global warming.
The House Energy Bill continues a shift in the right direction on global warming. Leaders in Congress are responding to the urgent threat that global warming poses to America’s security, wildlife and economy.
The Energy Bill passed by the U.S. House is a strong down payment on comprehensive global warming legislation, because it includes a national renewable energy standard, better fuel economy for our vehicles, and improves biofuels policy to curb global warming pollution.
The Energy Bill includes the first Congressional overhaul of fuel economy standards since 1975, the time of the first consumer computers. The Bill raises fuel economy standards 40 percent, will save consumers $40 billion a year at the pump, and does so while speeding industry transition and building American jobs. It sets a precedent that sound environmental protection and sound economic policy go hand in hand.
A 15 percent renewable energy standard will, by 2020, eliminate the equivalent global warming pollution of more than 30 medium-sized (500 Megawatt) coal-fired power plants. That adds up to $16.4 billion that consumers will save on energy bills.
As the Energy Bill comes to the Senate floor over the coming days, lawmakers should follow this example and hold the line on a 15 percent renewable energy standard and fuel economy standards of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
The Energy Bill also improves provisions that boost homegrown biofuels and reduce our dependency on oil. The improvements include performance-based standards to ensure biofuels significantly curb global warming pollution and help to ease some of the impacts of biofuels production on wildlife and native habitats. National Wildlife Federation has advocated for these additional measures as important protections for the future of wildlife.
To limit global warming, we must start now and put ourselves on track to reduce pollution by two percent each and every year, ultimately cutting pollution by 80 percent by mid-century. We can do that, and last night’s Senate Committee victory to approve the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act is another sign of Congressional leadership on global warming.