After Senate leaders last week ruled out a comprehensive energy bill with a cap-and-trade regime, climate legislation activists are now pushing for the consolation prize of a national renewable energy standard (RES) as part of a very slimmed-down energy bill.
Senate legislation on energy due to be introduced by majority leader Harry Reid this week is likely to focus on reactions to the Gulf oil spill, green jobs and clean energy (natural gas) vehicles. Reid said over the weekend he didn’t think he could muster 60 votes to break a potential filibuster on RES.
Twenty-seven Democratic senators wrote a letter to Reid last Friday, urging him to include RES in this summer’s bill. They emphasized the impact of a standard on job creation.
“A 20 percent by 2020 standard would result in 191,000 more jobs supported by the renewable electricity industry than without a national standard,” the senators wrote, citing a recent study.
Furthermore, they said, the RES is essential to keep American industry competitive in the renewable energy industry.
Significantly, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, an opponent of carbon caps, led the charge on RES, along with Mark Udall of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico.
A coalition of interest groups ranging the United Steelworkers, Xcel Energy and various environmental organizations also sent a letter last week urging Reid to include the standard.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have an RES in place, and both houses of Congress have passed bills repeatedly with an RES that have yet to make it into law.
Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who was originally tapped by newly elected President Barack Obama as his energy czar before a tax controversy forced him to withdraw, also urged his successor to include RES, suggesting that sufficient votes were there.
The electricity industry itself is looking for guidance on where to steer their investments in new capacity and a significant portion of them would appreciate the clarity of a renewable standard. Some RES advocates say industry is already running ahead of the 10 to 15 percent standards enshrined in earlier legislative efforts.
By. Darrell Delamaide for OilPrice.com