Clean Energy Advocates Try to Keep the RES Hope Alive

Photo by Kate Sheppard.

The Senate is definitely not going to pass a renewable electricity standard before senators leave Washington this month. But Majority Leader Harry Reid gave some reason for hope that it might stand a chance in a lame-duck session post-election, noting at an energy forum earlier this month that an RES is “absolutely” under consideration.

Renewables advocates aren’t backing off the subject. On Wednesday, a coalition of clean energy companies, trade groups, environmentalists, and unions released an “action statement” calling for the Senate to pass the RES included in the energy bill Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) sponsored last year. That bill would require utilities to produce 15 percent of power from renewable sources by 2021.

Back when the Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed that bill in June 2009, renewable energy advocates lamented that the standard in that bill is actually less ambitious than the path that the industry is already on. Now, while the members of the RES Alliance for Jobs acknowledge that the Bingaman standard “isn’t perfect,” they argue that “it is the right RES to pass as a starting point at this moment of acute urgency.”

Here’s the official statement, signed by 21 companies, unions, and trade groups:

The US simply cannot afford to end the year without a national renewable electricity standard. Key renewable industries are seeing significant drops in manufacturing and major analysts and fund managers are downgrading the US’s renewable energy market potential. Meanwhile, investment overseas – particularly in China – is skyrocketing.

The RES has strong, bipartisan support in the American public and clear bipartisan support in the US Senate, and will protect tens of thousands of jobs across the US. The RES passed in 2009 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee isn’t perfect, but it is the right RES to pass as a starting point at this moment of acute urgency.

We urge the Senate to move forward on that RES as soon as possible this fall, to protect the American clean energy jobs we have, provide a long-term signal to manufacturers looking to make significant capital investments and restore America’s competitive position in this crucial industry.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.