Senate Energy Bill: Love It Or Hate It?

NWF   |   June 23, 2009

I’m one of the contributors to the National Journal’s Energy & Environment Experts Blog. Here’s the question posed this week:

Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved an expansive energy bill that has something for everyone to like — or hate.

The bill would require at least 15 percent of the electricity sold in America to come from renewable sources. It would allow offshore drilling near Florida, and it includes subsidized loans and loan guarantees for a variety of technologies, including nuclear power. The package also would expand the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's power to pave the way for a national "smart grid" transmission system.

What are the most promising provisions in the legislation? What are the problem spots? Should the Senate consider the energy package on its own, or should the bill be bundled into a bigger climate change bill?

Which provisions should the House embrace as it votes on energy and climate change legislation?

Here’s my response.

The National Wildlife Federation can’t support the Senate’s American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 in its present form. While support the bill’s appliance efficiency and building code provisions, the renewable electricity standard should be ramped up to ensure it drives a real and significant expansion of clean, made-in-America renewable energy. In addition, electric transmission reforms should promote renewable energy development and include safeguards to protect our natural resources.

Two provisions should be stripped from the Senate bill entirely. The high-carbon fuels exemption for Canadian tar sands would take us backwards on global warming. And the bill should not overturn the 2006 bipartisan compromise that prohibited oil & gas drilling off Florida’s east coast until 2022.

The Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act moving through the House provides much better tools (PDF) answer to our economic, energy and climate crises.

I hope you can take a minute to visit the National Journal blog to read my full response.

Larry Schweiger

Published: June 23, 2009