Bioenergy, Solar

Groups Want Congress to Support Renewables

A major coalition of energy groups in the United States wants the federal government to adopt “a more balanced approach that recognizes the major contribution that energy efficiency and renewable energy can make today.”

WASHINGTON, DC – The Sustainable Energy Coalition is an alliance of 30 business, environmental, consumer and energy policy organizations. Its comments concern the comprehensive energy bill (S. 388) recently introduced by Senator Murkowski. “While we completely support the goal of a coordinated national energy policy that promotes diversity of fuel sources and lessens our dependence on foreign oil, we believe that this bill will not get us there,” says the coalition in a letter sent on February 28. “The legislation, as introduced, perpetuates the nation’s excessive dependence on fossil fuels and other energy sources that pose severe environmental and/or safety burdens, such as nuclear power.” “Any comprehensive energy legislation must include plans to significantly increase energy efficiency and fully develop clean, renewable energy sources over time,” it explains. “We realize that in the short term these efficiency and renewable supply measures are not the total answer and that natural gas and other forms of energy are critical, but we suggest a more balanced approach that recognizes the major contribution that energy efficiency and renewable energy can make today.” The federal law would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration and drilling, with part of the funds collected from leases devoted to research of renewable energy. “The funding of renewable energy R&D should not be contingent on an unnecessary incursion on a national treasure that should be left in its natural state,” argues the group. Drilling in the Refuge will have minimal impact on the supply of oil, and it cites the recent U.S. Geological Survey that estimates only 180 days of oil consumption in the Refuge. “A comprehensive energy bill should include provisions to make the electricity system more reliable,” and the Coalition criticizes the absence in the bill of a Renewable Portfolio Standard that would increase the percentage of electricity from renewable sources and the absence of a Public Benefits Trust Fund that would fund widespread improvements in energy efficiency and research into emerging renewable technologies. “There are some valuable and worthwhile provisions in this bill, such as the various tax incentives and tax credits for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, but these provisions are overshadowed by the preponderance of subsidies that are given to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries,” it says. “In addition, we do not support the inclusion of municipal solid waste as a renewable energy source.” “Financial incentives should be focused on emerging technologies that provide energy security and environmental benefits, not on well-established technologies and industries that fail to yield both energy security and environmental gains.” “We recommend that the leadership in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, go to work on developing a balanced package with an emphasis on energy efficiency and clean renewable technologies that can truly make our energy future more diverse, more secure, and less damaging,” concludes the letter. Members of the UCS include the Alliance to Save Energy, American Bioenergy Association, American Council for an Energy -Efficient Economy, American Solar Energy Society, Clean Fuels Foundation, National Environmental Trust, National Resources Defense Council, Renewable Fuels Association and the Safe Energy Communications Council.