Pursuing an energy-only bill in the US Senate this year does not preclude the possibility of putting a price on carbon in the future, renewable energy advocates said, even as they vowed to fight for both.
If a market mechanism to price carbon is not achievable before Congress adjourns ahead of the mid-term elections in November, then a clean energy policy centred on a federal renewable electricity standard and energy efficiency initiatives is the minimum goal for a new coalition of renewable energy, energy efficiency and biofuels organisations seeking comprehensive legislation.
“From our perspective, putting a price on carbon or capping carbon is critical to driving energy efficiency to its greatest potential,” said Kateri Callahan, Washington,DC-based non-profit at the Alliance to Save Energy. “However, there is a lot that can be done short of putting a price on carbon to drive energy efficiency and, I would argue, renewable energy.”
But Callahan also wanted to “dispel the myth” that passing clean energy legislation without a carbon cap or price this year would hurt the prospects of such legislation going forward “In fact, we think it might help,” she said, because it could lower the cost of a future programme to control greenhouse gas emissions.
“We certainly don’t believe that will hurt our ability to get the rest of our goals down the line when they’re possible,” said Ted Michaels, president of the Energy Recovery Council, a trade organisation representing the waste-to-energy industry.
There is significant bipartisan agreement on many provisions of the legislative proposals put forth, leading to the belief that some form of a clean energy bill can move forward this year.
“I think we are hopeful and optimistic for the first time in months,” said Denise Bode, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
But that doesn’t mean that the coalition is giving up on putting a price on carbon at the federal level, its members said.
“We’re very carefully saying we want to get both as quickly as possible,” Bode said.
The coalition is comprised of the Alliance to Save Energy, AWEA, Biomass Power Association, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Energy Recovery Council, Geothermal Energy Association, ethanol group Growth Energy, National Hydropower Association and Solar Energy Industries Association.