Skip to main content

The Energy Bill Passes the House

mitch-739075 Not by much – 219-212 – with a fair number of Democrats voting against it and all but eight Republicans likewise. But it passed. The Senate has a parallel bill wending through committee that is now scheduled for a September vote, so we’ll have to wait to see if, and in what form, this bill passes. But there’s been plenty of reaction to it at this stage.

John J. Castellani, President of Business Roundtable: “The bill ignores the role that oil and natural gas must play in the transition to a low-carbon future, as well as nuclear energy’s central role in reducing America’s carbon footprint. To achieve the GHG reductions called for in the bill, we not only need to use energy more efficiently, but also must deploy a balanced, comprehensive portfolio of new low-energy technologies.”

The Associated Press (H. Josef Hebert): The House-passed bill contains provisions to make it easier to get loan guarantees and expands the nuclear industry's access to loans for reactor construction. An Environmental Protection Agency analysis that shows modest future costs from a low-climate energy world assumes a significant expansion of nuclear energy. The Senate could add more incentives for the nuclear industry.

President Obama: You look at the constituent parts of this bill -- not only a framework for cap and trade, but huge significant steps on energy efficiency, a renewable energy standard, huge incentives for research and development in new technologies, incentives for electric cars, incentives for nuclear energy, clean coal technology. This really is an unprecedented step and a comprehensive approach.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), Minority Leader, on Fox News Sunday: Well, I hope it won't pass the Senate. The president himself said last year that it will lead to skyrocketing electricity increases. Think of it as a light switch tax. I think the president's right. I think it's going to lead to significant increases in electricity across America in an effort to try to deal with a global problem.

If we do have a global warming problem, and many people believe we do, we need to target it on a global basis. The way to get at it is to build more nuclear power plants which don't have a CO2 emission problem and to develop the kind of technology to burn coal cleanly.

Friends of the Earth (President Brent Blackwelder): It’s a shame we can’t celebrate the passage of the first-ever bill intended to reduce global warming pollution. Unfortunately, big oil, dirty coal, corporate agribusiness, and Wall Street lobbyists neutered this bill and it now fails to deliver the transformational change that is needed. This bill will produce nowhere near the emissions reductions that are needed to solve global warming, and—astonishingly—it will eliminate existing EPA authority to fight pollution from coal-fired power plants. [We’re actually surprised nuclear escaped their rogues gallery.]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs William Kovacs): Despite the good intentions of this bill's drafters to transition the U.S. to a 'clean, green economy,' H.R. 2454 [the number given the energy bill] still suffers from a large number of flaws. It fails to ensure that enough renewable or alternative energy sources, which include not only wind and solar but also nuclear and coal with carbon capture and sequestration, will be brought online to compensate for the fossil energy that will be de-selected by the bill's aggressive caps.

Naturally, we’re cherry picking – if we went with environmentalists or business types exclusively, it could get pretty gruesome. And even from this selection, you may be surprised that the bill passed at all.

Pass – the House bill – or fail – as McConnell foretells for the Senate – and you’ve still got a useful tool for Copenhagen:

"The passing of this legislation will give good encouragement for Copenhagen negotiations as it shows that the US is starting to move on climate action," ACF executive director Don Henry said in a statement on Saturday.

"It is a reminder that we need to get cracking and pass good climate laws in Australia; otherwise we will be left behind."

And:

The climate bill being debated today [last Friday] in the U.S. House represents a “sea change” and “points to the fact that the United States [is] very serious on climate,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to the White House this morning.

See? If an eventual failure of the bill indicates a desire to see the rest of the world get on board – see McConnell again – it’ll still have been a valuable exercise.

Senator Mitch McConnell. Not sure if he’s signaling peace or two. (NEI’s reaction to the House energy bill is here, by the way.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…