The current debate over energy policy begins with climate change legislation, which passed narrowly in the House this summer and is slowly beginning to move through the Senate. That’s where most of the heat is, so to speak, and where lawmakers and interest groups will focus most of their attention for the foreseeable future.
But as Roll Call’s Energy Policy Briefing shows, there are multiple and complex debates to come over how America powers its homes and businesses, how it moves its people and consumer goods, and how to make the business of developing and using energy more environmentally friendly.
In this edition, Roll Call has assembled a diverse array of Members of Congress to weigh in — on climate change and more.
Regardless of their party and political orientation, Members seem to agree conceptually on what’s needed: Less pollution, greener energy and better economic opportunities for all those industries associated with cleaning up the planet. But they differ on how to achieve these goals, and that’s where the debate — and the fun — begins. And Roll Call will be there to chronicle it all.
Statement by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on the introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act:
I am very pleased to stand with my colleagues, national security leaders, veterans, business leaders, workers, environmental organizations, religious leaders, wildlife protectors, energy companies, state and local officials and so many others as we introduce the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.
This bill addresses major challenges of our generation: protecting our children and the earth from dangerous pollution; putting America back in control of our energy future; creating the policies that will lead to millions of new jobs; and through our example, inspiring similar actions around the world to avoid an unstable and dangerous future.
As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I want to thank so many of my colleagues and their staffs, on and off the committee.
Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) staff and my office have been a team, working together for weeks and weeks, and often late into the night. Colleagues and staff on the EPW Committee have been very important in this effort and their work is reflected.
We built on the successful House effort. Our bill has stronger targets in the short term, and we have expanded our coalition in the business community.
In our bill, the basic promise to consumers has been kept. The promise to regions that rely heavily on fossil fuels has been kept as well.
The first major part of the bill includes authorizations, all of which would be eligible for appropriations and some which are eligible for both appropriations and allowances.
Some of these are enhanced from the [House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry] Waxman bill; some are new. Here are some examples of these authorizations:
Investments in clean natural gas, new transmission infrastructure, nuclear R&D and worker training, and green economic development;
Agricultural and forestry offset opportunities;
Provisions to speed the transition to cleaner transportation, including investments in our transit systems and incentives for efficient hybrid and electric cars;
Adaptation authorizations that include wildfire prevention, flood control, water infrastructure, and investments in coastal communities and wildlife protection.
Our bill gives a much stronger role to mayors and local governments.
The second major part of our bill sets up the pollution reduction and investment incentives.
In this section we have strong principles laid out for market transparency and oversight, and we set up an Office of Offsets Integrity.
Allowances in this section will be detailed in the chairman’s mark. We have put into this section a soft collar to address cost containment and limit speculation while maintaining the environmental integrity of the pollution cap.
And our bill does not add one penny to the deficit.
In closing, let me say that my state of California is going through hard times right now and it weighs on me every day.
But there is one bright spot. And that is clean energy jobs and businesses.
The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. During that period, clean energy investments created more than 125,000 jobs and generated jobs 15 percent faster than the California economy as a whole.
The latest economic study predicts up to 1.9 million new jobs in America if we pass our bill.
We know clean energy is the ticket to strong, stable economic growth ... it’s right here in front of us ... in the ingenuity of our workers and the vision of our entrepreneurs. And in studies and models.
The global clean energy market is estimated to reach two and a half times the size of the global personal computer market by the year 2020.
We know from venture capitalists that billions of dollars from the private sector will flow into this market.
Others will move ahead if we don’t seize this opportunity.
If we do, we will be a leader in the world as we protect the earth and all who dwell here from a future that the world’s most respected scientists agree is threatened if we do not act.
No one knows what challenges will face them in their time.
No one chooses their time. But you know what? This is our time.
Global warming is our challenge.
Economic recovery is our challenge.
American leadership is our challenge.
Let’s step up right now.
Let’s not quit until we have fulfilled our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren.