Can Congress Renew Hope for Renewable Energy Development?

As the second session of the 113th Congress develops, it is my great hope that Congress can leave its abysmal bill passage record in the past. In 2013, Congress signed just 57 bills into law, the lowest count in history. Much of the stalemate characterizing the last two congressional sessions has been blamed on bipartisan gridlock. When it comes to passing bills, quality over quantity is certainly an important motto to keep in mind. But it begs the question, why aren’t the widely supported bipartisan bills that are waiting in committee becoming law?

Wind turbines in Montana. Flickr photo by Mark Stevens.
Wind turbines in Montana. Flickr photo by Mark Stevens.
Bills that are well rounded, effective, and supported by stakeholders are dying in committee. A prime example of this is the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act introduced in both the House and Senate. The bill was introduced in the house by Reps. Gosar (R-AZ), Joe Heck (R-NV), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mike Thompson (D-CA), and in the senate by Sens. Tester (D-MT) and Heller (R-NV). Why is something that has well rounded support from legislators, as well as the Western Governors Association, National Association of Counties, and countless conservation and recreation groups not even able to schedule a hearing in committee?

I wish I had the answers to these questions, just as I wish our Congress would stop stalemating with each other and pass effective legislation. I call on the senators and representatives of the west to start putting words into action. Let’s get back on track and start passing well-supported, reasonable legislation.

About the Author

Hayley_NewmanHayley was recently hired by National Wildlife Federation to help organize smart development of renewable energy on public lands in Montana. She received her M.S. from University of Montana focusing on road ecology and wildlife habitat corridors. In her spare time she can usually be found outside, whether it be exploring the mountains on horseback or perfecting her cast on one of Montana’s many scenic rivers.