Audubon Joins Lawmakers To Call For More Renewable Energy

Audubon joined Congressional champions of clean energy at an event on Capitol Hill. The lawmakers said they would push for a strong renewable electricity standard (RES) as part of a House energy bill headed for a vote in coming days. The bipartisan group said they would try to add two vital provisions to the underlying bill: the RES (H.R. 969) sponsored by Reps. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Todd Platts (R-PA), and the Fuel Economy Reform Act (H.R. 1506) sponsored by Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Todd Platts (R-PA). Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled that she is supportive of an RES amendment, a top Audubon legislative priority.

"There is no greater threat to our environment than pollution from burning fossil fuels. This may be a long term problem, but it requires immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases that will speed global warming," Audubon's Betsy Loyless said at the event. "Congress can do something about global warming pollution right now by supporting the Udall-Platts Amendment. The time has come to increase clean, renewable energy sources like properly sited wind and solar power."

Thousands of Audubon activists have been encouraged to call or write their member of Congress by visiting

Twenty three states and the District have already passed an RES, also called a renewable portfolio standard or RPS, which would require utilities to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy they use to generate electricity each year. It creates a market-based mechanism of tradable renewable energy credits – similar to the Clean Air Act trading system – allowing utilities to meet the requirements at the lowest cost.

Utilities would receive a credit for every kilowatt of electricity they produce from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, ocean, and biomass energy – which includes capturing the gas from landfills and animal waste – as well as for improvements made to existing hydroelectric facilities. These credits could be traded or sold among utilities, or bought from the Department of Energy.

A 2006 analysis by U.S. PIRG found that by obtaining 20 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020 combined with a cap on global warming pollution, the U.S. would cut global warming pollution over 500 million tons, the equivalent of taking approximately 89 million cars off the road. A national RES would provide a significant down payment on the global warming pollution reductions scientists say will be necessary in the near term to avoid the effects of global warming down the road.

Recent analyses by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that requiring 20 percent of U.S. electric generation from renewable energy sources by the year 2020 would generate over 185,000 new high-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction and more. Meanwhile, due to the reduced demand for fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, the policy would save consumers at least $10.5 billion on their electric and natural gas bills by 2020, and over $30 billion by 2030.

H.R. 969 has garnered more than 25 new cosponsors since the July 4 recess. Several conservation groups have stepped up their lobbying on Capitol Hill in recent days to ensure continued momentum as House consideration of an energy bill approaches.

The Markey-Platts fuel economy bill guarantees an annual four percent increase in corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to ensure the U.S. achieves 35 mpg by 2018. Experts say by 2022, this action would reduce oil consumption by the same amount currently imported from the Persian Gulf, about 2.2 million barrels of oil a day. In addition, the measure would save consumers $37 billion at the pump and lead to 241,000 additional jobs.

The House energy bill is expected to come to the floor for amendments the week of July 30. The Senate passed its energy bill in June.
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