As Congress approaches the August recess, our economy, energy and environmental security needs still top the to-do list of the president and Congress. This summer the Center for Climate Strategies and the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition have outlined how Congress can put a national strategy in place that gets all three on the same page: by passing comprehensive national climate change and energy policy that reflects our best policy options for immediate action.
By implementing policies that jointly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve homegrown and advanced energy solutions, and save precious energy and capital, Congress could move us toward a cleaner and more secure energy future, while creating jobs and growing the economy.
A study released last week by the Center for Climate Strategies identified 23 major sector-based policies that, if implemented as part of national policy, could add as many as 2.5 million net new jobs and $134.3 billion to the economy by 2020 while holding down energy prices and reducing harmful greenhouse gases to meet national targets.
The specific actions recommended in this report were identified after examining 16 comprehensive state climate action plans that the center helped develop through consensus building and input from more than 1,500 technical experts and stakeholders across the U.S. over the past five years.
This bottom-up strategy ensured that all available options were considered, that they were carefully analyzed, and that the most effective and acceptable were implemented.
The 23 actions the center identified include new clean energy sources for heat and power; improved energy efficiency and industrial processes; transportation and land use improvements; agriculture and forestry conservation; and expanded recycling and waste energy recovery. They were chosen because they have the potential to reduce pollution, they are cost-effective and improve energy, health, environment and economic development. They would be implemented through federal, state and local action under a national framework that sets the stage for longer-term strategies.
The Clean and Safe Energy Coalitions Policy Roadmap for Clean Energy takes a similar broad-based portfolio approach to supporting clean energy technologies including wind, solar and nuclear energy while placing a premium on each industrys potential for job creation and broader economic development.
The road map makes broad policy recommendations to chart a viable course for a sustainable clean energy policy, including the following:
1. Enact policies to take control of Americas energy security.
Ninety-five percent of the countrys transportation infrastructure is powered by oil, and more than half of it is imported. Federal support for electric and hybrid vehicles is a good start to avert this dependency, but those vehicles will only be as clean as their electricity source. The current electric grid wont be able to handle large volumes of renewable energy technologies unless its modernized.
2. Ensure access to financing for clean energy projects.
Access to capital is the biggest hurdle for clean energy developers. Credit is still tight and private investors are leery of financing large infrastructure projects without guaranteed rates of return. Federal incentives, such as clean energy loan guarantees, help ease access to capital markets and ultimately reduce the cost of electricity to consumers.
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