Denver, CO – The legislation being voted on today by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, does little or nothing to spur renewable energy in this country. The proposal risks sensitive coastal ecosystems to pollution and spills from off-shore drilling, while worsening global warming by opening the door to high-carbon fuels such as liquid coal, tar sands and oil shale, according to Environment Colorado.
‘The Senate energy bill misses an unprecedented opportunity to repower America with clean energy and reduce global warming pollution while putting millions of Americans back to work,’ said Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado. “We oppose the bill being marked up today in its current form because it threatens Florida’s white sandy beaches and encourages dirty fuels while doing little to realize the promise of a clean energy future, ” he concluded.
While encouraged by the bill’s energy efficiency standards, Environment Colorado identified four major problems with the Senate Energy bill—a weak renewable electricity standard, and provisions to open Florida’s coast to oil drilling, to encourage highly polluting fuels such as tar sands, and to subsidize dirty expensive nuclear power plants:
First, the bill would require large electric utilities to achieve 15 percent of their sales by 2020 from a combination of “renewable” energy generation and energy efficiency improvements. States could allow their utilities to meet up to 27 percent of the total standard each year with energy efficiency (i.e., 4 percent of sales in 2020.) Considering that utilities are exempted from the standard, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the renewable electricity standard would require less renewable energy than the 9.9 percent renewables the Department of Energy projects the nation will already achieve under policies already in place.
Environment Colorado supports a 25 percent by 2025 renewable standard that according to another analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists would generate 300,000 new clean energy jobs and consumer savings of nearly $65 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills by 2025.
Second, the group opposes opening up Florida’s coast to drilling as close as 10 miles from the shore.
“Despite the risk of oil spills and pollution and the potential enormous impact on Florida’s vibrant tourist economy, this bill would open tens of millions of acres of pristine Gulf waters to dirty and dangerous drilling operations while doing nothing to reduce our dependence on oil,” said Hay.
Third, the group opposes the weakening of Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which could allow federal agencies to purchase high-carbon fuels such as Canadian tar sands.
Finally, several provisions in the bill, including the 21st Century Energy Technology Deployment Act provisions would encourage taxpayer subsidies of dirty, expensive nuclear power plants and nuclear waste reprocessing.
“To deliver on the promise of a clean energy future, this bill must be dramatically improved before it is passed by the Senate, “said Hay. “Environment Colorado urges Senators Udall and Bennet to support an amendment to require more renewable energy, support efforts by Congressman Bill Nelson (D-Fl) to strip the drilling provisions, and to remove provisions encouraging dirty fuels and expensive nuclear power,” he concluded.