Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment and I yield myself 2 minutes.
First let me say that we're not opposed to all renewable portfolio standards, but we are opposed to this one for a number of reasons. First of all, it only applies to investor-owned electric utilities. It doesn't apply to electric co-ops. It doesn't apply to municipal utilities. It just applies to investor-owned electric utilities. That's one of the reasons that the Edison Electric Institute is opposed to this amendment.
It doesn't meet the standards that have been put out for renewable portfolio standards. It should apply to all utilities. This one doesn't. It should complement and not preempt State programs. This one doesn't. It should be technology neutral. This one is not technology neutral. It should provide credit for early action. This doesn't do that. It should allow for a national trading mechanism, including standardized monitoring, verification and distribution of credits. It doesn't do that. And it
should include specific provisions assuring cost recovery for retail electric providers. It doesn't do that. It doesn't include nuclear as a renewable energy, and we think that it should. We think all hydros should be included. This one doesn't.
So, it is certainly worthy of debate, and I support it being made in order to be debated on the floor, but I would hope that we would oppose it when it comes time for the vote.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, I would like to yield 2 minutes to my Republican cosponsor, Todd Platts, who has worked very, very hard on this amendment. And I would emphasize that this is a bipartisan amendment, and we have worked all along on it together.
Mr. PLATTS. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman yielding, and I certainly appreciate his leadership on this very important issue. I do appreciate the ranking member's issues he has raised and that perhaps this amendment doesn't go far enough in what it includes in the type of renewable energy that is acknowledged.
I would say that this is a starting point. If we support this amendment, if we get into conference, then we can build on this to look at other options. But we have to start somewhere. I think this is a good starting point.
So I rise in support of this amendment which would establish a National Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard of 15 percent by 2020. A 15 percent RPS is an important step that we can take to meet our growing energy needs in an environmentally friendly manner and decrease our dependence on foreign oil and create more jobs.
A study by Woods McKenzie found that a 15 percent RPS would decrease the price of natural gas by 15 to 20 percent, decrease wholesale electricity prices by 7 to 11 percent, for a savings of $240 billion to consumers and would avoid almost 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide by the year 2030.
In addition, a Federal RPS would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. In fact, the top five States that have been hit hardest with the loss in their manufacturing economy over the past 6 years, California, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, and my home State of Pennsylvania, would benefit most from the creation of new agricultural and manufacturing jobs because of the passage of this amendment. My home State of Pennsylvania has established an RPS of 18 percent by 2020.
Since its inception in 2004, the Renewable Energy Standard is associated with the creation of several thousand new jobs. Projections show that a national RPS would create an additional 7,000 jobs in my State alone. Momentum has been steadily growing for a national RPS. Currently, almost half of all States have implemented such an RPS standard.
Mr. Chairman, I believe a national RPS is an important step to make to reduce pollution and lessen addiction to foreign energy sources. I urge a yes vote, and I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. BOREN. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to this amendment that is essentially an electricity tax on utilities and their consumers, with the greatest burden falling on States without renewable resources.
Utility companies must be allowed to develop their renewable capacity in relation to consumers' acceptance of the resource and its related additional costs. We have done that in the great State of Oklahoma.
Congress needs to recognize there are significant regional differences in the availability, amounts and types of renewable energy resources in different regions of the country. A one-size-fits-all Federal RPS mandate ignores the uneven distribution of available resources and the economic needs of individual States.
Mr. Chairman, I didn't get elected from these other States. I got elected from Oklahoma. This is bad for Oklahoma. This is bad for working families. I am the only Democrat in Oklahoma, but my district is one of the poorest in the country. This will do damage to working families who are on fixed incomes.
Mr. Chairman, this mandate for renewable electricity is nothing more than a thinly veiled tax.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), who has been a key player on this issue.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, and I appreciate his leadership.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this bipartisan amendment. I could not disagree more with my good friend from Oklahoma. This is not a one-size-fits-all. Indeed, this has been recalibrated to be able to make it more flexible, reduce the standard, and give more flexibility in ways to achieve it. There is no State that does not have opportunities for renewable energy. [Page: H9848]
The ranking member suggests that it doesn't go far enough. Well, I would suggest that part of the reason that some of the exemptions have been made for co-ops and whatnot is to recognize the differences and to make it actually easier politically.
I will guarantee you that within the next 3 or 4 years after we adopt this we will be coming back, because the public will be demanding that more happen. That is why States are already ahead of the Federal Government and are adopting portfolio standards that are higher than we have.
People recognize that that is a source of new jobs in Oklahoma and in Florida. It is a new source of jobs in my State of Oregon. There is a new plant in Arkansas. There are tremendous opportunities. That is why, when people from coast to coast have an opportunity to vote on establishing them, these have been overwhelmingly approved, as I hope we overwhelmingly approve this today.
Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Chairman, let me first of all agree with the Democrat from Oklahoma. He said this is a bad bill for the State of Oklahoma. This is also a bad bill for the State of Florida. Why is this bad? First of all, it is a giant tax increase.
Now, Mr. Udall has indicated that part of the reason this bill should be passed is because it stimulates the economy. I suggest when you stimulate the economy with an increase in taxes, you are not going to get the stimulation that you expect.
The Udall amendments proposes, as was mentioned, a one size that fits all States. Let each State work this out themselves.
Mr. Chairman, do all the Members realize that the Renewable Portfolio Standard does not include municipal solid waste? That does not qualify as renewable under the RPS proposal. In fact, a lot of the States that you represent use municipal solid waste. That is not even going to be part of this portfolio stand?.
This one size fits all is not going to work and does not take into account the nuances and the specific energy and economic needs of individual States. They are working on this themselves. We do not need this bill. Vote against the Udall amendment.
Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, this is the energy vote of the decade. This is [Page: H9849]
the most important vote of the day, because this vote is about the future. This vote will decide whether or not we are going to have 15 percent of our electricity by 2020 generated by wind, by solar, by biomass and by the other renewable electricity energy resources.
Climate change, dependence upon imported oil, all of it is in this fossil fuel agenda. This gives us a chance to move to a new agenda, a new way of generating energy in our country: 15 percent by 2020.
This is the challenge for our country. This is what the American people expect from us, not to be held hostage by OPEC, not to be polluting the atmosphere, not to be exacerbating climate change, but to be moving to a renewable future.
This is the vote of the decade on the energy future of our country. This will send a signal to Europe, to China, to India, that we are serious about climate change, that we are serious about energy independence.
Vote yes on the Udall-Platts amendment. Vote for the future and not for the past.
Mr. Chairman, it is time for us to move on to the new agenda.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, since I have got a bonus of time here, I am going to yield myself 1 minute to comment on my good friend, Hopalong Markey's, comments.
If this is the energy amendment of the decade, what happened to the Markey-Boehlert amendment on CAFE in the last Congress, or the pending Markey amendment on CAFE in this Congress, or the amendment on ANWR in the last Congress, or the pending amendments we are going to have on the climate change bill that is going to come out later this fall, or the vote on the Energy Policy Act conference report, which is the most comprehensive energy bill in the last 40 years that has been adopted?
If this is now the energy amendment of the decade, my friends on the majority are not planning on doing much on energy in the next decade. It is a worthy amendment. It is good to have a bipartisan debate. Renewable Portfolio Standards are obviously something that need to be debated and discussed and continually developed. But I do not believe this is the energy amendment vote of the decade.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mrs. MYRICK. Mr. Chairman, this amendment unfairly penalizes consumers in States like North Carolina, where investor-owned utilities provide a majority of the State's power using coal-fired generation and nuclear power, and it also undermines the State's Renewable Portfolio Standards. States in the Southeast and the Midwest are dependent upon coal-fired generation and investor-owned utilities have pioneered carbon sequestration techniques which substantially reduce further CO
Many States don't have the environmental capacity to generate significant power through solar or wind. Western States are capable of harnessing wind, solar and hydroelectric power; and they benefit from meeting this. But they also would be able to sell credits to the States in the South, Southeast and Midwest, while higher retail energy costs will adversely affect the consumers and employers in States like North Carolina.
Any jobs created to meet a government-mandated RPS will be miniscule compared to the manufacturing job losses that will result from higher energy costs. If the goal of the amendment is to reduce emissions and develop domestic energy forces, why not factor in nuclear power? Nuclear power is very important.
I urge my colleagues to vote against the amendment.
Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. The great State of Nevada has had a renewable energy standard for a number of years. It is a 20 percent standard. It is about time the rest of the Nation caught up with the great State of Nevada. Let's do this for the future of our Nation and the future of our children.
Mr. BOUCHER. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding this time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. There are a variety of reasons that we should not impose a requirement for the use of renewables for electricity generation as a matter of Federal law that would be applicable across the country.
The renewable resources for electricity generation are truly regional in nature and not every region of the country has them in sufficient quantity. The Southeast, for example, is deficient in both wind and solar resources; and these are the two renewable resources that are the closest to commercial viability across the country.
Some proponents have said that every area of the country has biomass and biomass could be used as a renewable resource for electricity generation. But, Mr. Chairman, it simply cannot be a primary way that a large electric utility meets a renewables requirement of 15 percent of its total generating capacity.
In fact, one utility estimated that it would have plant and harvest biomass from an area the size of the State of Connecticut if it is going to meet its 15 percent obligation using biomass. So it simply is not practical. That utility has little wind or solar potential. It would simply have to pay a large penalty that is estimated at about $20 billion between 2020 and 2030 to the Federal Government for its failure to meet its obligation to use renewables to the extent of 15 percent of generating
capacity, and that is money that would ultimately have to be paid by the ratepayers.
Twenty-five States where renewable resources exist have their own renewables mandates. That is the way it ought to be handled, State by State, not through a one-size-fits-all national solution. In fact, one can hardly imagine a circumstance that is better suited to State by State decisionmaking and less well suited to a national mandate.
The 25 States with their own programs have local renewable resources, and they have tailored their State laws to fit that resource availability. Their State laws make eligible a variety of different kinds of fuels and other kinds of offsets in order to meet that 15 percent requirement. That is all tailored based on their local resources available.
Virtually all of the States with programs make a broader range of fuels eligible for inclusion under the mandate than does the amendment that is pending before the committee for national application.
Mr. Chairman, I urge the House not to penalize ratepayers who happen to live in areas that have few renewable [Page: H9850]
resources. I think that renewables should be encouraged, and in fact I would like to see them encouraged to the greatest feasible extent. The way to do that is State by State, not as a national mandate.
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment really is critical because we know one thing about America: when it sets grand goals, it is roused to great advance. When John F. Kennedy on May 9, 1961, stood right behind me and set a goal of America to go to the Moon in 10 years, the U.S. Congress did not complain that at that moment we did not have all the technologies we need to set that goal. But Kennedy knew that when America sets goals, it achieves them.
Today, we set a goal to have 15 percent of our energy from renewable sources. We know this is an achievable goal. We know that every State in the continental United States, including the Southeast, has more solar energy capacity than Germany, that today, cloudy Germany is getting massive amounts of solar energy.
The reason is that we understand that we are the people who invented the airplane, the Internet, software and mapped the human genome. And we are going to do this together. We are going to use clean coal for 80, perhaps 89, percent using our fossil fuel. Is it too much to say that we will use 11 percent for renewables, for wave, biofuels, solar, and 4 percent for efficiency?
This is a moment for America to have the same spirit of the original Apollo Project, and for the moment do not shirk and fear. Let's live our dreams. Let's live our aspirations. Let's pass this amendment.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I thank you, and I thank our ranking member for yielding the time.
Mr. Chairman, I have been a believer that when it comes to RPS, they are best implemented locally at the State level or regionally, and, indeed, our State of Oregon has done so very effectively after much consideration.
I came to the floor today thinking maybe this was a national version, if we were going to have one, to incent renewable energy, which I am a big advocate of, that this might work. But in reading this amendment as it has been proposed over the last few days, there are some issues that are contained therein that bring me to the point where I have to oppose it.
Predominantly they relate around the sections that preclude certain biomass, depending on where it came from, from counting toward the Renewable Portfolio Standards requirement. I just don't understand why if biomass taken off one part of a forest counts, biomass taken off another part of a forest doesn't count. These are arbitrary decisions contained on page 3 and elsewhere in this legislation.
I have an area in my district that has juniper trees that need to be removed, and everyone agrees they need to be removed. You could remove those juniper trees off the land not under the National Landscape Conservation District boundaries and they would count toward the biomass, toward Renewable Portfolio Standards, but those contained therein would not. The same with roadless wilderness study areas and things of that nature.
Additionally, I am concerned about a definition I just ran across involving rural electric co-ops and how that could be defined, because I know there are some co-ops that aren't necessarily rural only.
Finally, I would love to know why Hawaii is completely exempted from it.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate my friend from Oregon and colleague's concerns, and as we have talked, I think his point is well taken in terms of the definition of biomass. I have indicated to the gentleman that I would be willing to work with him to make sure that this modest adjustment is made. I don't think there is any intent, and I look forward to working with him to make sure that that is solved.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, I would also like to work with both of the gentleman to see that we correct this. I think this is something that we can work on and we can iron out.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Kirk), who I know is very interested in renewable energy issues and has been a leader on that front.
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment, because an increase in renewable energy for our country will be an increase in American energy. Frankly, I would rather pay the Midwest than the Mideast for energy.
As someone who still serves in the military, I would like to accelerate a day in the future in which our dependence on foreign energy is less of a concern to the Pentagon. Half of our States have already led with these kinds of standards.
The Founding Fathers intended States to advance laws and standards before the national government did. They have led on this, and now it is time for our country to pitch in.
This amendment helps us to pay Americans, not foreigners; it reduces our impact on the environment; but, most importantly, it makes it less likely than the Pentagon of 2020 is worried about foreign sources of energy.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Mr. Chairman, let me take this opportunity, first of all, to thank you. This is a historic day. We hear the Presidential candidates on both sides, Republican and Democrat, talk about the importance of securing our Nation with energy. This is one of the first steps in order to do that. We have to take these steps. This gives us an opportunity to begin to secure our Nation, to reduce our dependency on the volatile supply of fossil fuels so we will be able to be more independent as
we move forward.
This opportunity also provides economic security for our Nation as a whole. It is also a historical moment in terms of renewing that energy that is out there besides in terms of just looking at the existing ones.
In addition, let me just take this opportunity to say that this is about ensuring a clean and healthy future for our children and grandchildren and future generations. This has to begin to occur now.
Yes, it has got its difficulties, but it is the first step in the right direction, to make sure we do the right thing. I want to encourage each and every one of you to vote in favor of this particular bill. [Page: H9851]
Mr. BILBRAY. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to the exemptions in this motion. I find it hard to believe that anyone who wants to really fight greenhouse gases is going to try to have winners and losers and allow these major exemptions that are in this bill.
The City of Los Angeles is going to continue to go without the same mandates and requirements and standards that the City of San Diego would have. Why are public utilities exempt in this bill, as if their emissions are not going to affect the environment, as if government is somehow immune? Government should be leading, not being exempted.
Mr. Chairman, as many surfers know, like myself, Hawaii has some of the most sun, wind and surf of any State in America. Why are Hawaii emissions exempt from this mandate when the rest are included? These exemptions are irresponsible and do not justify the environmental intention of this motion.
I have strongly supported the intention, but it is too bad that special interests, special lobbying and the back-room deals have snuck in these exemptions that should not have ever existed.
Mr. SHAYS. Mr. Chairman, I waited 20 years for a debate like this, so thank you to this Congress.
I live, all of us live, in the greatest country in the world; but we consume and waste too much energy and we are vulnerable to oil-rich states in a part of the world that would do us harm. We need to work towards energy independence, freedom from declining energy sources, freedom from nations who would do us harm.
Thirteen years to reach 11 percent renewable and 4 percent efficiency that is doable. We need to set this goal and then strive every day to reach it. And it is not as hard as the opponents would have us believe.
Biomass, which includes so much, incremental hydropower, solar and solar water heating, wind, ocean tidal, geothermal, distributed energy, PURPA-qualified facilities. This is a goal we can reach. At least we should strive to reach it. We have 13 years to do it, and we need to start today.
Mr. WAXMAN. People should not look for reasons to be against this amendment, they should look for reasons to be for it. It is in our natural interest. It is a win for our environment. It is a win for energy independence. It is a win for our national security.
L.A. County is a municipal system. They are reducing 20 percent and diverting it to renewables.
Let's recognize when we have more renewable energy, it provides jobs, it provides a better future and a better chance to accomplish what we need to do in this Nation.
I congratulate Mr. Platts and Mr. Tom Udall, and urge my colleagues to vote for the amendment.
Mr. HODES. Mr. Chairman, the challenge of energy independence is perhaps the greatest challenge we face for the future of this country and our planet. It means national security, and it means jobs in the 21st century, and it means meeting the challenge of global climate change.
Twenty-three States have already adopted a renewable portfolio standard. In my State of New Hampshire, we have a standard of 25 percent by the year 2025. We should not be hampered by fear that we cannot accomplish great things in the country. Our entrepreneurs and our free market system are ready to meet the challenge. They are waiting for a national standard, for a renewable portfolio standard to provide them the certainty to move forward. It is certainty to the free market that this standard
will meet. It is time for a national standard.
I support this amendment. I urge my colleagues and all those who understand the power of the entrepreneur in America and the free markets to support this amendment. It is time for full speed ahead.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, I would like the gentlewoman from Colorado (Ms. DeGette) to speak for 1 minute. She has helped enormously in this effort. She is a key player on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Chairman, if we really want to achieve energy independence, we need to make a national commitment to a common floor for a renewable portfolio standard. One size does not fit all, and that's why this amendment sets up a flexible, market-based trading system that lets utilities choose whether to develop renewable generation themselves or purchase credits from firms that have lower costs. If everybody does this, natural gas in the south and other places will go down.
The concept of an RPS is not new, but recently it is gaining support like never before. Twenty-three States have passed versions of this. In my State of Colorado, the voters passed this over the objection of industry and the utilities. It was so successful that the legislature and Governor, with the support of industry, utilities and the farm community, increased our RPS by 20 percent by 2020 this year.
It is the right thing to do. It is a good national commitment, and we believe by working together we can all meet this standard.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I have been informed as a member of the committee I have the right to close. I would ask the sponsor to close, and then I will close.