Clean energy businesses, agricultural interests, and advocates cheered as the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark clean energy legislation. Key clean energy provisions included a national 15 percent renewable electricity standard, 35 mile-per-gallon increase in fuel efficiency, and extension and expansion of renewable energy tax incentives for production and investment.
The House passed H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act, by a vote of 235 to 181 today. Members of Colorado’s delegation voting in favor included U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, John Salazar, and Mark Udall, and those voting against included U.S. Representatives Doug Lamborn, Marilyn Musgrave, and Tom Tancredo. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for final consideration where U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a swift consideration.
“Today, the House threw down the gauntlet to create a new vision for America’s energy policy,” said Matt Baker, Executive Director of Environment Colorado. “This would not have happened without the leadership of U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Mark Udall.”
“This is the first energy bill in over 30 years that actually addresses our nation’s energy needs,” continued Baker. “Congress is finally acting to pass an energy bill that will address energy security, promote competitiveness, and cut global warming pollution.”
According to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the House bill would reduce energy use by almost 8%, cut global warming pollution of carbon by 10%, and save consumers more than $450 billion dollars through 2030.
Until now, only states such as Colorado have taken the lead in creating the New Energy Economy by passing a renewable electricity standard. Colorado doubled its use of renewables such as wind and solar power for electricity to 20% by 2020. The national standard would open new markets and help make renewables competitive across the nation. Also, it will also cut over 80 million metric tons of global warming pollution per year, or the equivalent of taking more than 10 million cars of the road.
“The federal renewable electricity standard will benefit America’s economy and provide huge new economic opportunities for American workers and local communities across the country,” said Craig Cox, Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance. “By leveraging America’s domestic, inexhaustible energy resources, Congress is taking steps to put wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies on the same playing field as conventional energy resources. This bill will help restore America’s international competitiveness in these critical clean energy industries”
“The clean energy bill’s investment in renewables and energy efficiency will help consumers nationwide, because the ‘fuel’ for most renewable technologies is free. Renewables provide an important hedge against the unpredictable cost volatility of fossil fuels, and the new renewable standard is predicted to save consumers $13 billion by 2020.” continued Cox.
Much of the development of wind farms and biomass used for meeting the standard would happen in rural areas.
“Colorado’s Eastern Plains hold a bumper crop of wind power,” said Benjamin Waters, Government Relations Representative of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “By making a national investment in clean energy, Colorado farmers will not only put food on the table, but also more wind power on the wires.”
Extension and expansion of the renewable energy tax credits are strongly supported from an array of clean energy businesses such as independent solar companies, wind companies, and unions such as IBEW Local 68.
Beth Hart of Florence Colorado represents the distributor AEE Solar and is President of the Colorado Solar Industries Association. “Extending and expanding the renewable tax credits are critical for long-term stability and ensuring competitiveness of renewables,” said Hart. “Ensuring solar is a key part of the electricity market will have big impacts on the economy. Extending the tax credits will create over 55,000 new jobs in the solar industry and over $45 billion in economic investment nationwide.”
Also, the 35 mile-per-gallon increase in fuel efficiency marks a historic agreement among national labor unions such as United Auto Workers, the auto industry, and environmentalists. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the provision would save over 1.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2020 and cut global warming pollution by over 192 million metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 28 million cars off the road.
“Increasing fuel efficiency to 35 miles-per-gallon will help AmericaVermillion Basin to the oil rush, we can make smarter investments in how we use and where we get energy.” drive toward energy independence,” said Baker. “Rather than sacrifice our Western lands such as the Roan Plateau and
15% renewable electricity standard
- save consumers $13-$18 billion by 2020. Electricity bills would be lower in all 50 states
- cut global warming pollution by 84-126 million metric tons per year by 2020 (equivalent to taking 10 million – 15 million vehicles off the road).
- permits utilities to use energy efficiency savings to meet up to 4 percent of their targets
Increase in fuel efficiency to 35 miles-per-gallon
- save American families $700 – $1000 per year, with $22 billion in net savings in 2020 alone
- reduce oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day in 2020 (one-half of what we currently import from the Persian Gulf)
- cut global warming pollution by over 192 million metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 28 million cars off the road
Clean Renewable Energy & Conservation Tax Act
- includes $9 billion in clean renewable tax incentives
- create over 55,000 new jobs in the solar industry and over $45 billion in economic investment nationwide (Solar Energy Industries Association)
Beth Hart – (719) 821-9354
President, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and Representative of AEE Solar
Benjamin Waters – (303) 283-3549
Government Relations Representative, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
Craig Cox – (303) 679-9331
Executive Director, Interwest Energy Alliance