05' Budget Cuts Renewable Energy Funding
Washington D.C. - February 3, 2004 Reference Link:
The White House released their budget request for next year (FY'05) and it doesn't look pretty for renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to industry groups analyzing the request.
According to analysis by the Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC), a coalition of over 70 national and state business, consumer, environmental, and energy policy organizations, the Bush Administration has proposed cuts totaling $29 million in the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) programs -- reducing funding levels to $1,252 million in FY'05 from $1,281 million in FY'04. While the agency's overall EE/RE budget is reduced by 2.3%, significant increases in funding for weatherization (up $63 million) and hydrogen (up $13 million) mask far deeper cuts in a number of core programs. These include solar (cut $3 million), biomass/biofuels (cut $15 million), vehicle efficiency technologies (cut $23 million), distributed energy resources (cut $9 million), industrial efficiency technologies (cut $44 million), and the Federal Energy Management Program (cut $5 million).
Funding levels for other programs such as geothermal, wind, and hydropower remained essentially flat notwithstanding cost increases due to inflation.
The winners by comparison appear to be hydrogen (up by $288 million), "clean" coal, and weatherization, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
While hydrogen may one day play a major part in a clean energy cycle, many critics consider the Bush Administration's support for it as a "bait and switch" technique allowing the president to appear supportive of clean energy, while hydrogen would be created almost exclusively through traditional fuels like the increasingly price-volatile natural gas, "clean" coal and even nuclear power. The same critics, which include many in the renewable energy industries, along with experts in environmental policy groups would rather see more direct support of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
While SEIA acknowledged the cuts to the renewable energy sector, the group stressed there is still time for the figures to be amended upward.
"These numbers are not final, of course; the Administration's budget request is just that, a request," said SEIA in a released statement. "It has yet to go through the Congressional appropriations process, and we will be working very hard with the other renewable energy technologies to move these numbers up in that arena.
Cuts in funding for sustainable energy programs were not limited to the Energy Department, according to the SEC's analysis. For example, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the White House is proposing only $10.8 million for the Sec.906 Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Grant & Loan Program although the mandatory funding level is $23 million. Similarly, the White House is proposing to provide only $15.5 million of the mandatory $40 million for USDA's "Value-Added" grants program which provides funding for new uses - including renewable energy - for agricultural products.
As a result of this meager support for their industries, the SEC vowed to work to reverse the reductions in the White House's FY'05 budget request for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
"The American people have repeatedly reported their preference for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies over status quo fossil and nuclear industries," said the group in a released statement. "There is solid rationale behind their preferences."
SEC said investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs offer a cost-effective way to:
- create new basic domestic industries and high-tech manufacturing and operations jobs,
- reduce energy imports,
- improve national, homeland, and energy security,
- improve electrical grid reliability - particularly on the heels of last August's blackout,
- provide environmental and health benefits by curtailing the production of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from fossil fuels, and
- retain world leadership in advancing sustainable energy technologies which is rapidly shifting from the United States to other nations in Europe and Asia.
"Renewable energy is experiencing booming growth, and, on a percentage basis, is the fastest growing source of energy worldwide," the SEC said. "However, lukewarm domestic support for incentives and research means that market share, technical expertise and thousands of new jobs in this sector are increasingly moving overseas."
Furthermore, reducing reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels is a serious economic imperative, said the group, citing the recent dispatches from the Conference Board, the Chicago Fed, and Alan Greenspan that call volatility and escalation in fuel costs a major uncertainty as well as a drag on economic growth. With natural gas prices at alarming levels as supplies diminish, there exists a greater need than ever to increase investments in energy efficiency which offer the best available near-term solution, said the SEC.
"These budget cuts not only run counter to the preferences of the great majority of the American people, but also betray their future in the world's energy, environment and business communities," said the SEC. "Thus, while cutting back on federal support for these technologies may offer the illusion of near-term savings and thus be penny-wise, the strategy in fact is both short-sighted and pound-foolish."
The group said they recognize the pressures on the federal budget caused by the large budget deficit, the war in Iraq, and the weak economy. Accordingly, since its founding in 1992, the coalition has urged that limited energy research and development funds not be invested in
polluting energy technologies. Instead they should be focused on accelerating research and more widespread utilization of the portfolio of proven clean energy technologies that have the greatest potential to reduce energy imports, address looming natural gas supply shortages and price increases, and reduce harmful emissions polluting the air and water and changing the earth's climate.
"In his State of the Union address, President Bush expressly noted the need to "promote conservation and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy" - sentiments he noted in last year's address as well," the SEC said. "Proponents of the energy bill now stalled in Congress continuously highlight its renewable energy and energy efficiency provisions including substantial increases in budget authorization levels for these programs. It is time for the U.S. Congress and the White House to put their words into action."
In October 2003, the Sustainable Energy Coalition called upon the U.S. Congress and the White House to move towards doubling the level of federal support for sustainable energy programs over a five-year period and provided specific budget recommendations beginning with FY'05. Consequently, towards that end, the Sustainable Energy Coalition announced its intention to mount an intensive campaign that will work with the Congress to restore and increase funding in the cross-section of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that have been targeted for budget cuts by the White House.
Democratic Candidates Reveal Energy, Renewable Energy Views
Washington - D.C. - January 12, 2004
With both the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus speeding near, whomever is chosen as the democratic presidential nominee could become the next U.S. President and therefore stand a chance to dramatically affect Federal policies towards how energy is sourced, produced, distributed, and funded. New thinking and new policies could do much to increase the use of renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, biomass, and hydroelectric, that have been largely in the shadow of the entrenched fossil fuel industries.
While they may turn out to be little more than empty campaign promises, crafted from non-intrusive buzzwords no American can object to, these views are important to the renewable energy industries and those Americans concerned with a cleaner, safer, more sustainable future. At the very least however, these comments are a step in the right direction and undeniably more ambitious and sustainably-oriented than current U.S. energy policy.
Today's SolarAcccess.com RE Insider breaks from the regular format to bring you the candidates views, courtesy of the Washington D.C.-based Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC). The following is a side-by-side comparison of the views of eight of the nine major Democratic Party presidential candidates on a range of energy and related environmental policy issues. It is based on responses received to a 30-question survey initially sent to their offices in August by the SEC.
The survey questioned the candidates regarding their position on federal tax and budget support for renewable energy, energy efficiency, fossil fuels, and nuclear power. It also asked for their views on such policy issues as a federal Renewable Energy Portfolio standard, a federal Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal wires charge to support energy efficiency investments, fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, and opening the federal high-level nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Finally, the survey posed a number of questions regarding climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, oil imports, and rising natural gas prices.
The SEC is a coalition of over 70 national and state business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations whose members collectively represent several thousand companies, municipal utilities, and community organizations. Founded in 1992, the SEC works to promote increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.
As a tax-exempt, non-profit, and non-partisan organization, the SEC does not, and will not, support or oppose -- or advocate support for or opposition to -- any presidential candidate or political party. Accordingly, this survey does not seek to rank the candidates in any fashion or to evaluate their responses. As it did in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential campaigns, the SEC is sponsoring this survey of the major presidential candidates solely as part of its mission to educate the public about sustainable energy in general and to encourage active discussion among the candidates, the media, and the American voters about current energy policy issues in particular.
As a daily internet news publication, albeit specific to the renewable energy industry, SolarAccess.com also does not endorse any particular candidate or political party.
The candidates whose views are included in this report are General Wesley Clark, Governor Howard Dean, Senator John Edwards, Representative Dick Gephardt, Senator John Kerry, Representative Dennis Kucinich, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and President George Bush did not provide responses to the survey notwithstanding the fact that it was sent to their respective campaign offices multiple times and followed up with numerous letters, e-mails, and telephone calls.
However, the SEC vowed to continue to encourage those campaigns to provide answers to the survey and will release their responses if and when they are received. In addition, the SEC plans to provide the survey to the nominees of any significant third-party or independent candidates during the course of the coming year once those candidates are identified.
The summary results are broken down into the five following sections, while the complete text of the candidates' responses to the questions is also available through a link at the bottom of this document.
- Support for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Research & Development Programs:
- Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy - Regulatory Policy:
- Climate Change:
- Fossil Fuels:
- Nuclear Power:
Support for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Research & Development Programs:
All eight candidates said they supported increasing the funding levels for the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Gephardt proposes to "double federal spending in four years on wind, solar power, biomass, and geothermal [and] increase federal funding for fuel cell research and development to $2.5 billion, doubling the $1.2 billion commitment of the Bush administration" while Kerry says "we need to make the production of clean and domestic renewable energy sources a national priority and my energy plan, with its Energy Security Trust Fund, does just that." Dean recommends that "20% of our energy come from renewable sources by the year 2020" while Kucinich says he "strongly believe[s] that energy efficiency and renewable energy are the only solutions for a sustainable future" and Edwards says "we must move forward toward increased reliance on renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass."
When asked about individual renewable energy technologies - i.e., solar, wind, geothermal, biomass & biofuels, and hydropower, all eight candidates said they supported increasing the current level of federal tax incentives and/or federal budget outlays to promote solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass & biofuels. Gephardt calls for "a 30 percent tax credit for business investment in renewable energy generation ý and double the production tax credit for renewables." "Dean calls "for improving transmission needed to get electricity generated by wind power from the Dakotas and other states with strong wind potential to metropolitan areas in the West and Midwest." Lieberman expressed support for "tax provisions that expand the Production Tax Credit to new geothermal power plants." Clark says "we must incentivize the public and private sectors to work together on an aggressive research and development effort."
However, Senator Lieberman differed from the other seven who all said they supported continuation of the federal tax incentives for ethanol. Lieberman noted that while he "oppose[d] a mandate that all U.S. gasoline be blended with ethanol, which would seem to give ethanol preference over other renewables, [he] continue[s] to support ethanol in the context of [his] support for renewable fuels."
Regarding hydropower, candidates Clark, Edwards, Gephardt, Kucinich, Lieberman, and Moseley-Braun called for increased levels of federal support for the technology while Dean and Kerry favored maintaining the current level. More specifically, Gephardt and Kucinich emphasized their support for small-scale hydro while Clark and Dean wrote in favor of incremental, low-impact hydro development and Kerry called for the "installation of more efficient turbines that are designed to reduce fish-related losses."
When asked what percentage of funding for the federal hydrogen development program should be allocated to renewables versus fossil fuels or nuclear, Kucinich said "all hydrogen production should be from renewable forms of energy" while Clark and Moseley-Braun both said "most" resources should be directed towards hydrogen production from renewables. Similarly, Kerry called for a split of 80%-10%-10% for renewables, fossil fuels, and nuclear power respectively while Lieberman would divide the funds 50%-25%-25%. Without giving specific numbers, Dean said he "will favor [renewable] sources over fossil fuels and nuclear" while Edwards favored "mov[ing] toward increased reliance on renewable sources." Gephardt favors splitting hydrogen technology research and development "between renewables and fossil fuels."
Regarding energy efficiency, all eight candidates expressed support for federal tax incentives to encourage consumers to purchase products such as cars, homes appliances, and heating & cooling systems that are very energy efficient but which might otherwise be more expensive. In particular, all eight candidates said that they supported federal tax incentives to expand the use of hybrid cars in the U.S. Gephardt's "goal will be to produce per year 1 million hybrid cars by 2010, 100,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2010 and 2.5 million fuel cell vehicles by 2020" while Lieberman's "energy plan would provide a tax cut of at least $1,000 per vehicle, ramping up to $5,000 per vehicle."
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy - Regulatory Policy:
All eight candidates stated that they supported federal legislation to create a national Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would require the federal government and the states to ensure that electricity generators provide a portion of their power from renewable energy sources. Kucinich favors an RPS of 20% by 2010. Clark, Dean, and Lieberman all call for an RPS of 20% by 2020 while Gephardt supports an RPS of 10% in ten years and 20% in 20 years. The other candidates did not offer specific numbers.
All eight candidates also support a Renewable Fuels Standard for transportation fuels that would require the federal government and states to ensure that a percentage of transportation fuels be provided by renewable energy sources. Gephardt calls for 10% of motor fuels "be ethanol and other renewable fuels" by 2020. Dean also supports a 10% goal without specifying a target date. Moseley-Braun notes that she has "been a supporter of ethanol use as an alternative fuel source and will continue to be as President." Lieberman emphasizes his support for "biomass ethanol produced from agricultural waste products" but reiterates his opposition to a mandate that all U.S. gasoline be blended with ethanol which would seem to give ethanol preference over other renewables."
When asked if they favor including in federal legislation "a small wire charge on everyone's electric bill ... to maintain funding of energy efficiency, low-income weatherization and energy assistance, and renewable energy" RD&D, Clark, Dean, Gephardt, Kerry, Kucinich, and Lieberman all responded "yes." Edwards said that he "believe[s] strongly in LIHEAP, low-income weatherization, and energy assistance [because] these are important tools in promoting energy conservation" while Moseley-Braun answered that "dependent upon the actual amount, I might support such an incentive to support funding for alternative sources of energy."
All eight candidates favor increasing the current level of federal purchases of green electricity and/or decentralized renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures. Kerry noted that "these investments pay for themselves in cost savings, performance improvement, and security benefits." Lieberman expressed support for the congressional proposal to "authorize $300 million over five years to install 20,000 solar energy systems in federal buildings by the year 2010" while Gephardt spoke in favor of "doubl[ing] federal funds expended on retrofitting buildings and on developing new energy efficient buildings."
All eight candidates also support mandatory federal policies to enable distributed generation technologies such as fuel cells and renewable energy to connect to the electricity grid.
On the issue of new automotive fuel economy standards (i.e., CAFE), only Kucinich and Moseley-Braun said they favored raising the standards for new cars, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and other light trucks to a combined fleet average of at least 40 mpg by the year 2010. Edwards stated he had "voted in support of a CAFE standard of 40 mpg by 2015." Similarly, Lieberman called for CAFE standards that would save 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2015 which he estimates would translate into a CAFE standard of 40 mpg. Dean wrote more broadly in favor of "a significant and aggressive increase in CAFE standards for cars, SUVs, and light trucks over the next ten to fifteen years" and suggested a standard of "37.5 mpg for all cars, SUVs and light trucks by about 2015." Kerry noted that he has co-authored legislation "that would increase standards to 36 mpg by 2015." Noting that "we now have the know-how and technology to make cars and SUVs that go twice as far on a gallon of gas by using more efficient engines and transmission, including hybrid cars," Clark promised to "set new standards to raise the fuel economy and reduce the emissions of cars."
All eight candidates agreed that the current level of scientific evidence that human activity is causing global warming and warrants immediate precautionary action. Likewise, they also all agreed that the United States has not shown adequate international leadership in addressing this issue.
However, only Kucinich and Lieberman expressly stated that they supported ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions while Moseley-Braun said she "believe[d] the Kyoto Protocol [to be] a good start" and Gephardt indicated "it may be possible for the U.S. to sign the Kyoto Protocol ... as long as our allies maintain flexibility in negotiations." Kerry charged that "because of the Bush Administration's inaction, the binding targets set in the Kyoto Protocol are no longer achievable;" he would therefore "immediately reengage the international process [that would lead to] a strong, effective, and meaningful international agreement. Edwards was similarly critical of the Bush Administration and the need to "reengage the international community on this issue and commit itself to mandatory and absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets. Clark and Dean also expressed support for re-entering negotiations with the international community to address carbon emissions with Dean adding that "developing countries must commit to emission reductions along with developed nations."
All the candidates indicated that they would pursue binding CO2 emissions reduction measures with Gephardt speaking generally about "all the stakeholders ... develop[ing] a CO2 reduction plan" and Moseley-Braun promising to "look for the most up to date information regarding reduction measures." Kucinich said he is "supportive of legislation aimed at curbing these emissions." Dean and Edwards both expressed support for Senator Jeffords' Clean Power Act as well as for a cap-and-trade mechanism for carbon dioxide. Cap-and-trade is also favored by Lieberman who cited his Climate Stewardship Act which "would reduce the net emissions of major sources of greenhouse gases in our country to 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2016."Kerry added his support for "capping carbon pollution from power plants." Clark also supported "a market-based trading program [that] will reduce costs in fighting global arming and spur innovation."
When asked if they supported increasing, decreasing or maintaining the current level of tax incentives available for the domestic coal, oil, and natural gas industries, Dean, Kerry, and Moseley-Braun all responded "decrease" while Kucinich said he supported "a large decrease in these subsidies." Lieberman felt that "each [tax subsidy] should be looked at in its own right" because "there are several areas in which I would expand the program -- likely at the expense of other, nonessential tax incentives that I would roll back." Clark said he "favor[ed] continued research and development support for fossil fuels [but] subsidies for oil, gas, and coal should be reviewed to ensure that they are aligned with our highest energy and environmental needs and values." Gephardt would increase incentives "to continue to encourage more domestic oil and gas production to enhance energy independence during the transition period to more renewable production" while Edwards said "we must encourage more cleaner-burning fuels, such as natural gas and clean coal [and] the domestic production of oil in environmentally-responsible manners."
All eight candidates supported permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil exploration and development with Dean, Gephardt, and Kucinich questioning the need to drill there as a solution to U.S. energy needs. Lieberman added that he is "proud to be [a] chief sponsor" of the Arctic Wilderness Act that would make the site into a protected wilderness.
Generally consistent with their separately-expressed views on climate change, all eight candidates stated that they supported federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by fossil fueled power plants.
In response to a question asking how the candidates might reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day by 2013, Kerry said that his "energy plan, with its emphasis on both efficiency improvements and the development of alternative fuels will get us to this goal and well beyond." Kucinich said "a combination of mass transit systems, vehicle with double or triple the efficiency, and smart growth communities will reduce our oil consumption." Moseley-Braun promised to "embrace strong federal activity that moves utilities towards the use of alternative sources of energy." Dean's approach would be a combination of increasing CAFE standards to 37.5 mpg by 2015 and requiring that "10% of motor fuels comes from American biofuels" and that his energy plan would "wean us off foreign oil completely by 2024." Lieberman noted that the CAFE standards he favors would "save 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2015." Gephardt stressed that his "Apollo 21" plan "calls for U.S. energy independence in a decade" and would require that "by 2020, 10 percent of motor fuel sales should be ethanol and other renewable fuels." Edwards broadly outlined several policy initiatives including "invest[ing] far more in developing fuel-efficient technologies - including fuel cells, ... tax breaks for fuel-efficient cars, ... [and] the development of new biorefineries to make ethanol and methanol from agricultural waste products such as corn stalks." Finally Clark offered eight initiatives he would pursue including "promot[ing] the use of fuel-efficient cars, ... accelerat[ing] the use of hybrid vehicles, ...expand[ing] the use of renewable, non-petroleum fuels, ... plan[ning] for smart growth, ... [and] promot[ing] mass transportation."
The candidates were also asked what action they would take to address projected natural gas supply shortages and prices increases. In response, Kucinich proposed "a national effort to improve the efficiency of our homes [e.g.,] tax credits to insulate homes" while Edwards supports "incentives to develop and distribute liquefied natural gas [as well as] maintaining the home heating oil reserve." Gephardt favors "provid[ing] tax credits for the development of more storage capacity and pipeline modernization." Suggesting that "more drilling is [not] the answer," Moseley-Braun supports "increased use of alternative and renewable energy sources" while holding "companies and utilities accountable for any price fixing." Kerry believes the U.S. needs to "work with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico to increase our natural gas supplies, ... increase the efficiency with which we burn natural gas and use electricity, ... and support environmentally responsible new production to increase our supplies." While not supporting "new drilling in protected areas in Alaska, the Rockies, or off our coasts," Dean would "improve efficiency and implement demand management" as well as "increase our supplies of renewable energy" and "responsibly increase supplies ... from North America, the Caribbean and abroad." Stressing the need to "diversify our supplies of oil and gas over the next decade," Lieberman proposes to "incentivize efficiency and conservation throughout our economy," to provide "adequate financial incentives ... to bring natural gas down from Alaska," and developing "liquefied natural gas projects throughout Latin America ... to provide the U.S. with additional sources of energy in its own hemisphere." Finally, Clark would "emphasize the need to promote energy efficiency and renewables to ultimately reduce the rate of natural gas demand" while supporting research to develop "unrestricted reserves ... in environmentally sound ways."
When asked if they support construction of new nuclear power plants, Kerry, Kucinich, and Moseley-Braun all responded "no." Dean also said "no" ... "until we resolve the issue of storing nuclear waste safely" while Lieberman similarly answered "no'" ... not at this point ... unless and until we find adequate answers to the problems of waste disposal safety and security." Gephardt also said "no" ... "until such a time that plant security is better assured [and] we must solve the problem of storage of spent nuclear rods and other hazardous materials." Edwards said that he did "not support federal subsidies for the construction of new nuclear power plants" while Clark said he hadn't "seen convincing evidence that increasing America's use of nuclear power will make us safer, more prosperous, or help protect our environment."
All eight candidates said that they did not support a proposal considered by the U.S. Senate during its 2003 debate on energy legislation that would extend federal loan guarantees, estimated to be worth $30 billion to the nuclear industry, for the construction of new nuclear power plants.
However, when asked if they supported the relicensing of existing nuclear plants in the United States, there was more of a split among the candidates with Gephardt and Kucinich both stating their opposition to relicensing while Moseley-Braun answered that she "would only support relicensing of plants that are determined to be the only present available source of energy in a region." Edwards and Kerry simply responded "yes" to the question while Clark also said "yes" while calling for "tough, no-compromise criteria for extending operating licenses ... [and] mak[ing] sure that the owners of those plants are doing everything they should be to protect them from terrorist attack." Lieberman also said "yes" noting that "there must be a much more searching consideration of the safety and security risks posed by any particular plant." Dean did not offer a response.
When asked if they supported protection of the nuclear power industry from the full cost of liabilities due to accidents, Edwards and Lieberman both responded that they supported reauthorization of the Price-Anderson Act. Dean noted that he felt "Price-Anderson played an important part in developing America's nuclear industry ... [and that] he does not believe that the Government should leave existing facilities hanging out to dry." On the other hand, Gephardt, Kerry, Kucinich, and Moseley-Braun all said "no;" Clark also said "no" adding that he did "not believe it is the government's responsibility to fully protect the nuclear industry from liability for non-terrorist related risks or accidents."
Finally, when asked if they supported establishment of a high-level nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, only Edwards responded "yes." However, Moseley-Braun said "not in its present state" while Dean said he would "not send nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain unless and until it is proven to be a scientifically viable solution, something that has not occurred yet." Citing "shortcomings" with Yucca Mountain, Clark responded "no" as did Gephardt, Kerry, Kucinich, and Lieberman with Gephardt and Lieberman both noting their earlier votes against the facility.
Other Important News - about what some other (enlightened & caring) people / groups are doing:
Renewable Energy Fuels New Apollo Project
Washington, D.C. - January 15, 2004
An alliance of labor, environmental, civil rights, business, and political leaders has laid out a vision for a "New Apollo Project" to create 3.3 million new jobs and achieve energy independence in ten years. Named after President Kennedy's moon program, which inspired a major national commitment to the aerospace industry, the Apollo Alliance aims to unify the country behind a ten-year program of strategic investment for clean energy technology and new infrastructure.
The Alliance also announced that it has received support from 17 of America's largest labor unions, including the United Auto Workers, the Steelworkers and Machinists, as well as a broad cross section of the environmental movement, including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Greenpeace.
The press conference was held as President Bush is expected to make a final push for his energy agenda, which was defeated last November. The press conference was attended by co-chairs of the Apollo Alliance, Senator Maria Cantwell (by phone), Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America, Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, as well as by California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, Congressman Jay Inslee (by phone), John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and Bracken Hendricks, executive director of the Apollo Alliance.
Dr. Ray Perryman, a corporate economist from Texas, prepared a detailed economic analysis of the proposal for a New Apollo Project.
"If economists agree on anything it's that inventing new technologies and creating whole new industries is what America does best," said Perryman. "We are a creative economy, not a commodity economy. The New Apollo Project would keep us on the cutting edge of manufacturing emerging technologies and secure our long-term prosperity."
Perryman concluded that the proposed tax credits and investments would create 3.3 million new, high-wage jobs for manufacturing, construction, transportation, high-tech, and public sector workers, while reducing dependence on imported oil and cleaning the air. Perryman's analysis shows that a New Apollo Project would also position the U.S. to take the lead in fast-growing markets, dramatically reduce the trade deficit and more than pay for itself in energy savings and returns to the U.S. Treasury. Perryman's study was based on an input-output analysis of impacts on key industry sectors, using a highly regarded economic model and extensive survey data.
"At the time of Kennedy's moon shot, we were in space race with the Soviet Union," Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said. "Now we are in an economic race with the Europeans and Japanese. Bush is focused on the past; the New Apollo Project for energy independence is focused on the future. America led the electronic and communications revolutions. Now we must lead the clean energy revolution if we are to maintain our global economic leadership."
"One of the keys to America's energy security -- and therefore our national security -- lies in rebuilding our cities," said Congressman Jessie Jackson Jr. (D-Illinois) in an issued a statement in support of the release. "We need strategic investments to retrofit old buildings, expand transportation alternatives, restore our infrastructure, and create solar, wind and hydrogen technology. Apollo will rebuild our country in a way that benefits all Americans and reestablishes our global economic competitiveness."
"As California's chief investment officer and a fiduciary of the nation's first and third largest pension funds, I am well aware that the way in which we invest capital can shape not only the contours of our economy, but also the future of our communities, our society, and our environment for decades to come," California State Treasurer Phil Angelides said: "I applaud the efforts of the Apollo Alliance to develop programs that illustrate how strategic public investments can stimulate our economy while at the same time improve the quality of life in communities across our nation."
"The New Apollo Energy Project is an opportunity for a bold new energy policy that can free us from our over-dependence on Middle East oil, expand the economy, and address environmental challenges," Representative Jay Inslee (D-Washington) said. "We should call for a total national commitment to harness the genius of America's can-do attitude that would design, invent and deploy the new clean energy technologies that benefit this new century. No single national endeavor has such capacity to expand our economy by tapping our innate and unique technological genius for innovation, and creating millions of new jobs."
"The New Apollo Project is a call to action for labor unions and environmental groups to forge a new strategy, rooted in common interests, for moving America forward," said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America. "The Bush energy plan is a waste of money and natural resources. A New Apollo Project will unite America around a positive vision of economic growth and reinvestment that's good for business, workers and the environment."
"A New Apollo Project will help accelerate the transition away from our dependence on imported oil and other polluting fossil fuels, and toward clean energy like solar and wind," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Apollo stands in marked contrast to the Bush Administration's damaging energy agenda, which hurts job creation and the environment. An Apollo Project can simultaneously address the threats of manufacturing job loss, global warming and our diminishing national energy security."
"In stark contrast to the secret Cheney energy plan hatched by big oil, the Apollo Project harnesses America's ingenuity in support of an energy program that enhances our security, our health, and our livelihoods," said John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress.
Bracken Hendricks, executive director of the Apollo Alliance underscored the importance of Apollo in the upcoming political cycle.
"We are seeing for the first time a competition among all the major Presidential candidates to produce the best plan for investing in clean energy infrastructure and good jobs," said Hendricks. "The public is demanding a forward-looking plan to rebuild our economy and a positive solution to our energy insecurity. A bold approach like Apollo is the kind of leadership we need from our next President."
(1) A Faltering Energy Bill
- - by Ken Bossong
Link here to this article
Link here to the following article
RE Insider - October 20, 2003 - Barring a major train wreck - which remains within the realm of possibility - congressional conferees may have a final energy bill ready for votes in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by the end of this month. The final product, representing more than three years' work, will undoubtedly be described by its authors as "comprehensive" and "balanced." In reality, it will be neither.
Among the pressing issues facing the United States today are those of growing oil and natural gas imports - particularly from politically unstable regions of the world, escalating environmental and economic damage from greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, and an electrical generation and transmission system that is unreliable and - due to its reliance on large central station facilities - insecure. Yet the emerging energy bill will do little to address any of these issues; in fact, it may very well exacerbate all three.
Among the best strategies for addressing these energy problems are greatly expanded energy efficiency initiatives and investments in decentralized renewable energy technologies. Yet the energy bill will probably offer little more than crumbs for sustainable energy while continuing and
expanding federal support for the mature, polluting fossil fuels and nuclear power industries.
It is supremely ironic that completion of work on the energy bill may correspond to the thirtieth anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo that began on October 17, 1973. Over the past three decades, total U.S. oil imports have nearly doubled with imports now accounting for more than half (54 percent) of the nation's oil consumption. Yet the energy bill largely fails to address oil consumption in the transportation sector - which now accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. oil use - by not including provisions to substantially raise automobile fuel economy standards. It even fails to include the Senate bill's directive (passed by more than 90 votes) that would set a goal of reducing oil consumption by one million barrels per day by 2013 (a modest 5 percent of current consumption). Instead it opts for a "drain America first" strategy that may include drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opening the door to expanded oil exploration in moratorium areas, and facilitating expanded development in other ecologically sensitive areas as well as subsides for an Alaskan natural gas pipeline.
It is true that the final legislation will likely incorporate a Renewable Fuels Standard that will mandate that 5 percent of liquid fuels be derived from renewable sources which could be a boon to the domestic ethanol and biofuels industries. Yet these fuels will be burned in increasingly inefficient cars and SUVs which means they will be wasted and ultimately not reduce the nation's dependency on petroleum imports.
Similarly, natural gas imports have been inching upwards and now exceed 15 percent of total U.S. consumption with future imports increasingly likely to come in the form of expensive LNG shipments from politically unstable sources such as Algeria, Nigeria, and Oman.
Presently, more than a quarter of the natural gas used is burned in inefficient and wasteful electricity generating stations. The most environmentally-sound approaches to curbing this waste, and hence imports, include improving the efficiency of (or reducing) electricity end-uses,
expanding the use of combined power and heating systems for electrical generation, and displacing natural gas generating plants with renewable electric technologies. A recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy shows that even modest gains in energy efficiency and renewable energy production from these kinds of policies would help reduce gas prices substantially.
Yet the energy bill provides, at best, only limited support for any of these strategies. Its efficiency title is expected to include new standards to improve the efficiency of building transformers, torchiere lighting fixtures, exit signs, traffic lights, unit heaters, and compact fluorescent
bulbs, as well as directives to the U.S. Department of Energy to set new efficiency standards on several other products. Small tax incentives for combined heat and power as well as efficient new homes, commercial buildings, refrigerators, clothes washers, and fuel cells are also probable.
While steps in the right direction, they fall far short of the aggressive efficiency standards, tax incentives, and public benefits fund to support efficiency programs needed to make a serious dent in electricity consumption. That is, the bill completely lacks aggressive measures needed
to moderate electricity demand that would reduce the risk of future blackouts while cutting air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the tax provisions are likely to eliminate incentives for hybrid vehicles, the nation's best chance to save oil in the next twenty years.
The most important provision to expand the use of renewable electricity production and displace natural gas, a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), now appears certain to end up on the conferees' cutting room floor. Even if a token RPS somehow makes it into the final bill, it is apt to be a provision significantly weaker than those already enacted by many states and far below the projected technical and cost-effective potential for electricity generated from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower resources (i.e., 20 percent or more by 2020).
Failure to include a strong RPS coupled with weak or non-existent energy efficiency standards also insures that the final energy bill will do very little to address the growing problem of climate change. Indeed, a climate change title does not even exist in the bill.
Proponents of the bill suggest that it includes provisions that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and point to increased renewable energy authorization levels such as the $300 million over five years to establish a solar electric (photovoltaic) energy program for the procurement and installation of solar electric systems in new and existing public buildings. Left unsaid, though, is that an "authorization" is merely permission to spend a certain amount of money if the funds can be found; an "authorization" is not an "appropriation."
In reality, federal funding levels for renewable energy programs - i.e., the appropriations - have been cut during each of the last three budget cycles, notwithstanding authorization levels that would allow for significantly higher funding. Given the massive budget deficits now being forecast as a result of the White House's tax cuts and the war in Iraq, it is extremely dubious that the recent downward funding trend will be reversed; in fact, it is highly probable that renewable energy budgets will be slashed even further regardless of the authorization levels included in the energy bill.
Moreover, the levels of federal support given to renewables in the form of direct appropriations and tax incentives are likely to be swamped by those being proposed for the fossil fuels and nuclear industries which have been estimated to total $18 billion. These include $1.1 billion to build a new nuclear power plant, $400 million in loans for oil and gas development loan, guarantees to build a new coal plant that may cost $2-$3 billion, and $350 million for hydrogen production from polluting sources. Not included in this figure is the extension of the Price-Anderson Act which shields nuclear utilities from most liability in the event of a major accident; the precise dollar value of this is incalculable but conservatively worth tens of billions of dollars in saved insurance costs.
Consequently, the unbalanced financial incentives provided for in the energy bill for competing energy sources may actually worsen the competitive position of renewable energy technologies in the marketplace.
That would further compound the problems with the reliability of the nation's electrical grid as highlighted by the August blackout in the Northeast and the long power outages in the mid-Atlantic following Hurricane Isabel not to mention the national security risks posed by excessive reliance on highly-centralized and large-scale power generating facilities. Distributed renewable energy electric technologies are uniquely suited to lessening these problems. However, the energy bill fails to create the regulatory framework to tap this potential and, in fact, through provisions such as the proposed revocation of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) as well as the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), could make the situation worse.
At the least, the energy bill should include mandatory net metering and interconnection standards to enable renewable energy generators to tie into the grid rather than the essentially optional, advisory guidelines that it now includes.
It should also include a long-term renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), including a tradable credit for public power and rural cooperatives, that benefits the cross-section of renewable energy technologies. To provide some stability and predictability in the marketplace, any such tax incentive should be enacted for at least five to ten years. By comparison, the proposed renewal of the Price-Anderson Act is 20 years. However, the energy bill now provides for only a three-year PTC extension. Such a short-term PTC threatens to continue the start-and-stop cycle that has plagued the renewable energy industry, particularly wind energy developers, for more than a decade as investments dry up when the existing PTC is set to expire and its supporters scurry around madly trying to get another extension.
Wind energy advocates may be tempted to support the pending energy bill arguing that a three-year PTC is far better than no PTC just as the solar investment tax incentives, geothermal reforms, Renewable Fuels Standard, and hydropower relicensing components are important and generally positive provisions that will benefit their respective industries. Similarly, advocates of energy efficiency can point to some gains that may come from the bill if enacted as now written. However, when weighed against the lopsided provisions to advance fossil fuels and nuclear power, it is questionable whether the end result will actually move this country closer to a sustainable energy future.
Moreover, the recent series of closed-door, Republican-dominated, conference meetings in which the House-Senate energy bill is being finalized, and which have largely excluded those Democrats who have championed the bill's efficiency and renewable energy provisions, have provided nuclear and fossil fuel lobbyists an opportunity to further skew the bill the wrong way.
Consequently, even if the Congress approves and the President ultimately signs an energy bill this year, the nation's energy policy work won't be done. The bill that is likely to emerge is one that will evade the problems of energy imports, global warming, and electric grid stability. It is also one that will fail to incorporate an adequate Renewable Portfolio Standard, auto fuel efficiency standards, aggressive appliance and industrial efficiency standards, mandatory net metering and transmission standards, and a sufficient mix of tax incentives and federally-funded R&D programs to move the nation away from its reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Under the circumstances, while many weary renewable energy and energy efficiency advocates may wince at the prospect, it would likely be far better to have no energy bill than the one that seems to be nearing completion.
About the Author...
Ken Bossong is the coordinator of the Sustainable Energy Coalition - a coalition of 60 national and state environmental, business, consumer, and energy policy organizations founded in 1992 to promote increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. The views expressed in this article represent those of the author alone and may not necessarily reflect the views of the individual member groups of the Sustainable Energy Coalition.
For More Information: Sustainable Energy Coalition
(2) U.S. Congress Cuts Renewable Energy Funding
Washington D.C. - November 11, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported the U.S. Congress has cut federal spending for renewable energy research in the conference report for the 2004 Energy and Water spending bill. Congress is expected to pass the bill next week.
According to AWEA, US $344 million was approved for renewable energy research, down from $419 million in 2003. The final spending level is $99 million lower than that proposed by the White House and $115 million lower than that proposed by the Senate. It is slightly higher than the $330 million recommended by the House.
AWEA also reported that energy bill conference negotiators -- with an assist from the White House -- were able to broker a deal on ethanol tax incentives that could allow a final package to come before the conference committee sometime this week.
Based on that schedule, AWEA said the earliest the conference committee could take action on the bill would be Wednesday, November 12, as Republican leaders previously agreed to allow a 48-hour window for review of the bill.
If approved by the conference, the House could then take the bill up on November 13 and the Senate as early as November 14. This schedule is likely to slip some, and Senate action is more likely the week of November 17, which could be the last week of work this session.
Congressional leaders have expressed their intention to adjourn for the year on November 21. If final agreements can be reached and the conference committee approves the bill, passage in the House is highly likely.