S-CHIPing Energy: Time for Action!

The Democratic Party controlled Congress is attacked for inaction. Inaction in the face of Republicans who are not interested in seeing movement forward. Inaction in the face of a President who seems intent on his belief that “negotiation” is a four-letter word.  As Nancy Pelosi put it,

Democrats want to work with the President, yet he continues to engage in the same tired rhetoric that does not serve the best interests of the American people.

Instead of working with Democrats, the President is trying to prevent progress. Democrats will continue to take our country in a New Direction.

Well, the Energy Bill that is working in Congress doesn’t look to be inaction.  Like S-CHIP, it is a meaningful measure that — while far from perfect — will lay the groundwork for progressive energy policy, if adopted and if signed into law. Like S-CHIP, it is a meaningful measure that — while far from perfect — will advance the situation in meaningful ways, if adopted and if signed into law. And, like S-CHIP, this sensible legislation almost certainly will face a Presidential veto.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it… Help Nancy Pelosi, Ed Markey, and others Whip the Congress into shape to pass this legislation.

Call and write your Congressional representatives (INCLUDING REPUBLICANS!), demanding that they support this legislation which will serve as a critical downpayment for dealing with our energy and global warming challenges.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it… Give Mr 26% the choice between sensible legislation become law or stamping it with a Scarlet V to help further cement his status as the WPE (Worst President, Ever).

A question to us, to the US, to our Congressional representatives:

Will you support the Energy Independence and Security Act? 

This is a question that the Democratic Party House leadership has asked the caucus:  “Will you support …”

Your mission, should you decide to accept it… is to help make sure that the answer is YES!  Your mission, should you decide to accept it… is to help assure that enough Republicans sign on to this to make this a veto-proof vote.  Call and write your Congressional representatives …

Far from a perfect bill

Let us be clear, this is not a perfect bill. (Yes. I would vote yea with a sigh.) This does not achieve everything that is required to Energize America toward a properous, climate-friendly society.  We face two realities: Political Reality; and What is Required to Tackle Global Warming.  When it comes to the first, this is a tremendous achievement, far more than most expected to be possible. For this, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic Party leaders merit a Hurrah! They merit the praise for fighting for even this bill, for getting what they’ve gotten out of the meatgrinder of Congressional legislative action. And, they merit our taking action to help assure this bill’s passage.

Now, as most of them recognize, this is a downpayment.  We are in a struggle for our existence, a long struggle. This is a battle, a difficult and perhaps costly victory.  We need to assure this battle’s victory even as we work toward the next battle, take on the next challenges, seek to find a path toward successfully dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil, Peak Water, Peak Natural Gas, Global Warming, and … Thus, urge your members to take on this battle, not just for this vote, but for the long term, to Energize America toward an Energy Smart future.

As to the Bill

The Energy Independence and Security Act (by the way, did it really need to be “EISA”, to stand along FISA?)  is not perfect but it includes elements that will move the nation forward. (See HillHeat for an, as typical, excellent overview.)

  • Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 15% by 2020, to help foster a move toward a non-polluting electricity system
  • The first increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in decades, calling for an increase to 35 mpg by 2020
  • Incentives for Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids (PHEVs)
  • Repealing roughly $21 billion in tax subsidies for the oil and natural gas industries (as passed in HR6 enacting part of the 100 hour agenda)

From the note from leadership to the members 

This week the house will consider legislation that represents a dramatic change in energy policy.  
The New Direction Congress is poised to pass an ambitious legislative agenda to put us on a path toward energy independence—to strengthen national security, lower energy costs, grow our economy and create new jobs, and begin to reduce global warming.  We are doing so by investing in the future of America with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act.
Specifically, we are taking groundbreaking steps to increase the efficiency of our vehicles, making an historic commitment to American grown biofuels, requiring that 15 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources, and strengthening energy efficiency for a wide range of products, appliances, lighting and buildings to reduce energy costs to consumers. We are repealing tax breaks for profit-rich oil companies, so that we can invest in clean renewable energy and new American technologies.  Not only would this reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the measure would also save consumers billions of dollars.  
This agreement with the Senate builds on the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221, and H.R. 2776) passed this summer, which includes wide-ranging solutions from 10 House committees.  With passage of this measure, we are reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change and increasing our energy independence.  The House will move forward next year with the next major effort to reduce global warming. 

Strengthen our National Security by Reducing our Dependence on Foreign Oil

Historic Fuel Economy Standards for Cars and Trucks, Endorsed by Environmentalists and the Automobile Industry.  The price at the pump demands groundbreaking and historic provisions to increase fuel economy standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks. These provisions will save American families $700 – $1000 per year at the pump, with $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020 alone.  This is the first increase by Congress since 1975 – marking a significant advancement in our efforts to address our energy security and laying the groundwork for climate legislation next year.  The bill ensures that fuel economy standard will be reached, while offering flexibility to automakers and ensuring that we keep American manufacturing jobs and continue domestic production of smaller vehicles.  It will reduce oil consumption by 1.1 million gallons per day in 2020 (one-half of what we currently import from the Persian Gulf), and reduce greenhouse gases equal to taking 28 million of today’s average cars and trucks off the road.  
Renewable Fuels Standard/Historic Commitment to Homegrown Biofuels.  The initiative includes a historic commitment to American biofuels that will fuel our cars and trucks – with a robust increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard. This isn’t just about the Midwest – this is about diversifying our energy crops from coast to coast. Whether it is sweet sorghum in Texas, rice straw in California, or corn stover in Minnesota, we will create American jobs and protect the environment. The measure ensures that biodiesel and cellulosic sources, such as switchgrass, are a key part of the increase.  It includes critical environmental safeguards to ensure that the growth of homegrown fuels helps to reduce carbon emissions and does not degrade water or air quality or harm our lands and public health. The plan includes incentives to boost the production of biofuels and the number of Flex Fuel and other alternative fuel vehicles.
Incentives for Hybrids.  It establishes a plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit for individuals and encourages the domestic development and production of advanced technology vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.  
Repealing Big Oil Giveaways to Invest in Renewable Energy. The measure repeals about $21 billion in tax subsidies for Big Oil, mainly including provisions from H.R. 6, which passed the House in January, and the President’s budget. It closes a loophole written into the international tax bill (H.R. 4520) and rolls back the 2005 Energy Bill tax break for geological and geophysical expenditures.
Lower Energy Costs with Cleaner Energy, Greater Efficiency, and Smarter Technology
Historic Step — Electricity from Clean Renewable Sources.  This provision, which was contained in the House-passed bill, requires utilities to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources — such as wind power, biomass, wave, tidal, geothermal and solar — by 2020.  It permits utilities to meet up to 4 percent of their target through energy efficiency. A 15 percent Renewable Electricity Standard will reduce global warming emissions and lower energy prices and fossil fuel and natural gas consumption and is endorsed by a broad range of businesses, manufacturers, electric utilities, environmental, labor, farm, and faith-based organizations.
Landmark Energy Efficiency to Bring Down Costs.  It includes landmark energy efficiency provisions that would save consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars through 2030. It would require more energy efficient appliances, such as dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators and freezers, and would speed up Energy Department action on new efficiency standards after six years of delay.  It would require improved commercial and federal building energy efficiency and assist consumers in improving the efficiency of their homes.
Incentives for the Renewable Energy Economy.  It strengthens and extends existing renewable energy tax credits, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, landfill gas and trash combustion, while creating new incentives for the use and production of renewable energy. It bolsters research on solar, geothermal, and marine renewable energy.  The bill provides new clean renewable energy bonds for electric cooperatives and public power providers to install facilities that generate electricity from renewable resources.

Create New Jobs and Reduce Global Warming
A Skilled Green Workforce.  This package creates an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program to train a quality workforce for “green” collar jobs — such as solar panel manufacturer and green building construction worker — created by federal renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Major investments in renewable energy could create 3 million green jobs over 10 years.
Small Businesses Leading in Renewable Energy.  The bill increases loan limits to help small businesses develop energy efficient technologies and purchases; provides information to small businesses to reduce energy costs; and increases investment in small firms developing renewable energy solutions, recognizing the leadership of entrepreneurs in the alternative energy sector.
Energy Efficiency Reduces Carbon Dioxide.  The landmark fuel efficiency standard, renewable electricity standard and energy efficiency provisions will not only save consumers and businesses money, but will also significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Making Coal Part of the Solution.  This initiative takes aggressive steps on carbon capture and sequestration to come up with a cleaner way to use coal – authorizing a nationwide assessment of geological formations capable of sequestering carbon dioxide underground and expansive research and development, including large-volume sequestration tests in a variety of different geological formations.  It includes incentives for clean coal, which for the first time ever include a requirement for carbon sequestration.

My hesitations in this bill derive from the ‘political reality’ versus ‘energy/global warming realities’.  The biofuels drive is, quite possibly (if not likely), simply unsustainable, with water constraints, implications for food supplies and otherwise. The CAFE standard increases are, well, far below what they could be (and, well, hopefully PHEV / EV developments will blow these away. And, again, the RES is far from what it could be and compromised with efficiency elements and otherwise. On the other hand, every one of these elements was heavily (HEAVILY) fought by quite powerful special interest groups and lobbyists. Basically, every element of this has senior members (on both sides of the aisle) uncomfortable (at best). And, well, the President has promised a veto of even this partial downpayment on a sensible future.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it… Help Nancy Pelosi, Ed Markey, and others Whip the Congress into shape to pass this legislation.

Call and write your Congressional representatives (INCLUDING REPUBLICANS!), demanding that they support this legislation which will serve as a critical downpayment for dealing with our energy and global warming challenges.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it… Give Mr 26% the choice between sensible legislation become law or stamping it with a Scarlet V to help further cement his status as the WPE (Worst President, Ever).


2 responses to “S-CHIPing Energy: Time for Action!

  1. I agree with your take. This is a small step, an imperfect (at best) bill, but its all we have. We’ve got to win this struggle, and we’ve got to show all concerned that people a) really care about this sort of thing and b) want something stronger.

  2. Pingback: Keeping Up the Power Shift: Time to Ask Congress for a Down Payment on the Future « It’s Getting Hot In Here

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