Not Dead Yet! Renewable Electricity Standard Gets Another Chance

Photo by TDR1, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tdr1/3014155430/">via Flickr</a>.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Good news for those who have been keeping the hope alive for a renewable electricity standard this year: A bipartisan group of senators plans to announce new legislation on that front on Tuesday.

Tomorrow afternoon, Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) will unveil their plan to create a national renewable energy standard at a press conference, where they’ll be joined by Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Udall (D-N.M.). While Brownback is better know for strident view on abortion and the creation of human-animal chimeras, he’s been the most vocal Republican supporter of an RES in the Senate.

Hope for an RES this year dimmed after it was not included in the energy/oil spill package Harry Reid put together in July (which the Senate has yet to act on). But the announcement of stand-alone legislation—and bipartisan legislation at that—renews hope that it could be completed this year.

So far, they’re not saying exactly how much renewable energy their bill will require. The RES included in Bingaman’s previous energy bill called for utilities to draw 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021. After that RES was approved in committee, the clean-energy industry complained that it was no better than the business-as-usual path. But they’ve since warmed to even the lower standard. calling it “the right RES to pass as a starting point at this moment of acute urgency.”

Based on Bingaman’s last RES effort and what the senators have indicated so far, the renewable electricity mandate in this bill will probably be on the low side. Brownback’s statement emphasized the need for a “sensible and modest renewable energy standard” to kick-start the industry. It would probably be lower than the RES the House passed in June 2009 as part of the combined climate and energy bill, which required utilities to draw 20 percent of electricity to come from renewables by 2020.

“I think that the votes are present in the Senate to pass a renewable electricity standard. I think that they are present in the House,” said Bingaman. “I think that we need to get on with figuring out what we can pass and move forward.”

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.