Senate unveils new climate and clean energy legislation

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | October 1, 2009 | Climate Change

Today, Senators Kerry and Boxer kicks off the Senate’s efforts to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill by introducing the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act. Many climate advocates have applauded today’s introduction as a crucial next step for Congress to pass national legislation that reduces global warming pollution, creates jobs and ensures that the United States is a leader in developing and deploying clean-energy technologies at home and around the world.

While some important provisions are not yet spelled out (such as how billions of dollars worth of pollution credits will be allocated), the current draft of this bill does reflect some important improvements over the legislation passed by the House of Representatives this summer including a strengthened emissions cap with reduction targets of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020; provisions to enhance energy efficiency in buildings and transportation; and significant investment in innovative technologies and clean technology deployment.

Support for innovative and emerging technologies is critical: it will be essential to nurture and then deploy new technologies that are abundant, replicable and globally scalable if we are serious about addressing climate change.  Technologies that are heavily dependent on government subsidies decades after their deployment, such as nuclear power, may not be a cost-effective climate solution for our region or the rest of the world.

In the coming days and weeks, SACE and our allies will spend time analyzing this bill to determine where it can be strengthened, such as through an amendment ensuring polluters pay for for carbon credits to provide protection for low-income consumers.  Moving forward, it is critical for Senators to stand firm against Big Energy’s efforts to weaken this bill in their last-ditch attempts to stall our nation’s shift to a clean energy economy. The Senate has the opportunity to deliver the kind of comprehensive policy that science says is necessary to address the growing threats from climate change while unleashing a clean energy economy to power the 21st Century.

As Nike – a strong corporate supporter of climate action – would say, Just Do It.

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