We'd Like a Little More Muscle, Please


Image credit:Flickr, Jusup'Biceps Logo November 2007, by "Gass2002"

I'm thinking today about three guys I know about who run their electric cars on batteries powered by solar panels on the roofs of their houses. I'm thinking about my friend's cousin whose wind power company is going great guns. I'm thinking about Leo Gerard, president of United Steelworkers, and how upon gazing up at wind turbine in Cleveland that was made of 26 tons of steel, immediately began mentally calculating how many manufacturing jobs that equalled.

Legislation can be so dry and boring to read about, but when a bill has the potential to facilitate more of the above, to take our sagging economy and move our country in the direction of a clean-energy future that provides green jobs for an underemployed workforce - well that's not so dry and boring. I'd say it's downright inspiring.

That potential exists in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a groundbreaking energy bill making its way through Congress, and which was approved on May 21 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Washington Post said approval of the bill, authored by committee co-chairs Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, was "a domestic legislative compromise that has eluded climate activists for the dozen years since the adoption of the international Kyoto accords.

That's a big step! Are we inspired?

There are some strong, significant provisions in this bill, but it's not yet a perfect piece of legislation - which is what I want to write about today: What must happen in order for this bill to set us up for President Obama's bold vision of clean energy and green jobs. This bill gets numerous things right, but in order to set us up for President Obama's bold vision of a clean-energy future fueled by green jobs, it needs a bit more.

Right now it includes:
--Strong codes to dramatically increase the energy performance of our
buildings
--A lighting and appliance efficiency program.
--Provisions for significant funding to jumpstart the development of
electric vehicles
--Funding to cut emissions by reducing international deforestation.
--Performance standards for emissions sources not covered by the cap
provisions of the bill
--Criteria to ensure offsets are high-quality,
--Energy efficiency requirements for natural gas utilities

While I think Markey and Waxman produced the strongest possible legislation that could come out of the Commerce and Energy Committee, the Sierra Club will be pushing for some amendments. We believe the bill should go farther than it does. How? It should:

1. Drive a shift to in U.S. energy production toward cleaner, cheaper sources like wind and solar much more quickly than business as usual in order to ensure strong growth in the clean energy industries and clean energy jobs that are key to solving both our environmental and economic crises.

2. Prioritize significant investments in slashing energy waste in order to quickly, cheaply, and effectively cut emissions, rather than focusing on other unproven and expensive technologies.

3. Clean up dirty coal plants by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to keep its existing power under the Clean Air Act

4. Make polluters pay for their carbon pollution in order to fund investments in clean energy jobs, clean energy; protect consumers, wildlife, and vulnerable communities; and promote clean energy jobs rather than rewarding Big Oil, Big Coal, and other polluters for bad business decisions and past pollution with billions in giveaways and bailouts.

Numerous other committees, including Ways & Means, Agriculture, and Natural Resources have partial jurisdiction over the bill and could hold markups or otherwise suggest changes to it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given these committees a final deadline of June 19, after which they will lose their partial jurisdiction. The bill could come to the House floor as early as the week of June 22, but this could easily slip to the week of July 6th. (Congress is in recess the week of June 29.)

What can you do? Pay attention as the bill makes its way through Congress. And let your members of Congress know that you want a bill with a little more muscle.

More posts on the US Energy bill.
Clean Energy Jobs Vote in Conrgress Threatened - MoveOn.org ...
Robert Redford: Utah's Renewable Energy Opportunity is Vast ...
Historic Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill Passes Energy ...

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