By Mark Pabst, San Francisco | 22 March 2011, 02:02 BST
Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) and the Committee’s ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) released a white paper yesterday soliciting comment about President Barack Obama’s proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES).
During his State of the Union address in January the president challenged Congress to pass laws establishing an energy standard that would require that 80 percent of America’s electricity come from “clean” sources by 2035. Now the legislature is tasked with teasing out many of the details of the proposed clean energy standard, including what types of energy sources will be considered clean.
Congress toyed with the idea of creating a renewable electricity standard a number of times over the past decade, but it has failed to pass significant legislation on the subject. One reason lawmakers have been unable to agree on a standard is because new federal energy standards will force the legislature to make tough decisions and favor some energy generation technologies over others.
However, with the president now pushing Congress to lay the groundwork for a workable CES, Bingaman and Murkowski are trying to clear the political obstacles that have tripped up previous proposals, including finally determining which technologies will benefit most from the new law.
Specifically, the senators are hoping to determine whether an energy source will be defined as green solely based on the amount of greenhouse gases it emits or if other environmental issues will be taken into consideration. A standard based only on greenhouse gas emissions would largely favor solar, wind, and nuclear power. However, a standard that takes into account land use changes from solar and wind and radioactive waste associated with nuclear could favor other energy sources like natural gas.
The release of the white paper is essentially a starting gun designed to let the public know that the race is on to determine which energy generating technologies will be the big winners in the CES. With so much on the line, expect fierce lobbying by all interested parties, both in public and behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.Source: Green Energy Reporter