Coalition tells Congress ‘don’t miss the boat’ on national clean energy economy

Environment Colorado

Kayakers took to the rapids at Confluence Park to join a coalition delivering a simple message to Congress— don’t miss the boat on passing landmark energy legislation that would fight global warming and protect Colorado’s water, wildlife and way of life. The coalition, made up of low income advocates, sportsmen, agricultural groups, outdoor recreational businesses and environmental advocates, urged Colorado’s Congressional delegation to seize the moment and work to pass a comprehensive clean energy bill with a strong renewable energy standard at its core to keep America on track building a national new energy economy— the key to cutting global warming pollution.

Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado kicked off the event noting, “The ship is sailing on clean energy— we know it’s a winner. Congress can’t miss the boat and should look west to Colorado to see what works to build a clean energy economy— our strong renewable energy standard.”

Capitalizing on a clear public mandate coming out of the last election cycle to address global warming and repower our country with clean, renewable energy, the House Energy and Commerce committee moved swiftly to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) out of committee. This momentum is expected to carry the bill quickly through the House.

 “Americans deserve better energy choices, and Colorado is leading the way,” said Harvey Nyberg with Colorado Wildlife Federation. “By making a national investment in clean energy we help protect wild life habitat while giving our families the energy choices they deserve.”

The group lauded the efforts of Congresswoman DeGette (D-Denver) and others on the committee who stood firm on controlling global warming pollution.  As passed from committee, the bill will reduce U.S. global warming emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050.  In addition, the bill commits the United States to achieving additional emission reductions through agreements to prevent deforestation.  The bill will establish minimum targets for commercial and residential building codes of 30 percent energy savings starting in 2010 and 50 percent savings for residential buildings starting in 2014 and for commercial buildings in 2015. These improved building standards will save consumers $25 billion a year by 2030.  And the bill will provide money to state and local governments to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Cutting energy use is a key to solving global warming and cutting energy bills for Coloradans most at risk from rising energy prices,” said Nelson Bock with Colorado Interfaith Power and Light.

Highlighted most recently by Vice President Biden’s visit to Colorado to announce a $500 million program to promote clean energy jobs, there is an enormous opportunity to create a lasting, long-term investment in a clean energy economy. Several speakers made the point that the American Clean Energy and Security Act as passed out of committee does not go far enough. While the current bill sets sounds caps on pollution, it fails to deliver on the promise to repower America with clean energy.  Groups called on Colorado’s Congressional delegation to get on board and make sure that a strong national renewable energy standard and energy efficiency standard is at the heart of the bill.

 “Rural Coloradans have been harvesting a new, old crop, the wind and sun,” said Mike Bowman with 25x’25.  “Harvesting the riches of America’s green economic recovery, in particular in rural America, depends on expanding investments in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy and having a clear mandate for change.”