House Begins Marathon Hearings on Comprehensive Clean Energy Bill

Environment Colorado

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee and the Energy & Environment Subcommittee began legislative hearings on a comprehensive energy bill. The committee and then full House is slated to consider the bill shortly in response to President Obama’s call for legislation to rebuild the economy with clean energy and stop global warming, according to Environment Colorado. 

“Today begins the sprint for Congress to pass strong legislation to unleash clean energy to rebuild our economy, put millions of Americans back to work in clean energy jobs, and combat global warming,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate at Environment Colorado.

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) released the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act on March 31st and have announced plans to vote on the bill in subcommittee next week and in full committee prior to Memorial Day.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said that the full House will vote on the bill this summer.

The draft bill uses a framework advanced by major U.S. businesses.  It sets strong standards for rapidly deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency, including requirements that utilities generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, like wind and solar power, by 2025 and use 15 percent less energy by 2020.  The renewable energy standard alone would create an estimated 297,000 new domestic jobs and save consumers $64.3 billion in electricity and natural gas bills by 2025.  The draft bill also includes science-based standards to reduce U.S. global warming emissions by 30 percent by 2020 by cutting pollution domestically and through agreements to prevent tropical deforestation.

At the same time, Environment Colorado expressed concern about “sky high levels of carbon offsets” in the bill, which provide less-certain reductions in emissions, and provisions that would weaken the EPA’s ability to crack down on some of the biggest sources of pollution.  Also, the draft bill so far is silent on whether polluters will be held accountable and be required to pay for pollution – as President Obama has endorsed – or whether that burden will be foisted on the American public. 

“Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and other polluters have hired more than 2,000 lobbyists to stop the president’s plan – nearly four lobbyists for every member of Congress.  They’re working to mold the plan to benefit the status quo, but now is our chance for real change,” said Hay.

“Environment Colorado thanks Representative DeGette for her leadership in repowering America with clean energy.  We urge her to ensure that the committee passes a strong bill that maintains science-based pollution reduction targets and speeds the transition to a clean energy economy with a strong renewable energy standard,” concluded Hay.