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House Energy Package and RES Amendment: 07/24/2007

To: JCPA Member Agencies; JCPA Board

From: Hadar Susskind, Washington Director; Melissa Boteach, Program Associate

Re: House Energy Package and RPS amendment

Background: Early next week, the House of Representatives will be considering a comprehensive energy package. This legislation aims to strengthen our national security by reducing energy dependence, decrease our energy costs through greater efficiency, create new jobs through green technologies, and curb global warming by reducing our carbon emissions. The package will move forward in two separate bills, which will include provisions from twenty two separate bills passed out of eleven congressional committees.

The first bill will be the “Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007” (HR2776) from the Ways and Means Committee. The bill would provide long-term incentives for companies to invest in renewable energies and establish new tax credit bonds to finance innovative local projects.The bill would also create and extend tax benefits for those who make personal decisions that bring America closer to energy independence, such as installing solar panels on their homes or buying plug-in hybrid cars.

The second bill in the package would combine several bipartisan measures passed out of the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Agriculture, Appropriations, Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Oversight and Government Reform, Small Business, and Natural Resources.

Some of the provisions of the package include:

    • Setting new efficiency standards for household appliances and promoting green buildings in the federal and private sector;
    • Promoting homegrown alternative fuels by facilitating installation and conversion of E-85 fuel pumps and the production of flex-fuel vehicles that run on renewable fuel;
    • Creating a “smart” electric grid to update and bolster the reliability and energy savings of U.S. electricity supply;
    • Authorizing $3.5 billion over five years to develop better methods for growing, transporting, storing, producing and marketing cellulosic ethanol;
    • Investing $3 billion in the Energy-Water Appropriations bill to address global warming, including funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
    • Establishing a Commission on Climate Change to evaluate federal initiatives and make actionable recommendations;
    • Calling on the United States to lead the effort to reach an international, binding agreement to require emission reduction commitments from all major emitters (including China, India and Brazil);
    • Promoting U.S. exports of clean, efficient energy technologies to developing countries;
    • Authorizing a national assessment to determine the potential of carbon sequestration in various ecosystems;
    • Encouraging “green jobs” by creating a training program to prepare workers for jobs spurred by federal energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives;
    • Providing small businesses with the tools they need to be more energy efficient including small loans and technical assistance to reduce energy costs;
    • Directing the federal government (the largest energy consumer in the United States) to lead the way on reducing global warming by setting the goal of carbon-neutral government operations by 2050.
    • Encouraging innovation by creating an Energy Department agency to coordinate high-risk, high-payoff energy technology research that the private sector may not pursue on its own and promoting research on solar, geothermal and marine renewable energy.
    • Addressing carbon emissions in the transportation sector through initiatives that support states and localities that carry out energy efficient/alternative fuel transportation projects and encouraging people to use mass transit.

An important element that is not currently included in the House energy package, or in the Senate energy package passed last month, is a provision mandating a Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) of 20 percent by 2020. RES is a market-based mechanism that requires electric utilities to use a percentage of clean, renewable energy in their generation portfolio, or to buy renewable energy credits from others.

Increasing RES to 20 percent by 2020 would help curb global warming by decreasing emissions from fossil fuels by over 500 million tons (comparable to removing 80 million cars from the road) and promote energy security by displacing the need for up to 3.2 trillion cub feet of natural gas. It would also save consumers $49 billion on gas and electric bills and create over 355,000 new high-paying jobs in the green sector.

ACTION:Please call your Representative this week and ask him/her to vote YES on the House Energy package when it is brought to the floor next week and YES on the amendment that would increase the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) to 20 percent by 2020.

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