Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions

Energy Policy & the State of the Union

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Last night the President made his fifth state of the union.  And the debate around energy policy was once again highlighted.

The President made a strong statement about climate change, “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”  We wholeheartedly agree.  Additionally, the President challenged Congress to eliminate federal subsidies for fossil fuels! That is good energy policy!

Unfortunately, we are still fighting a battle about gas as a bridge fuel.  When will Washington learn that we don’t want dirty fracking gas? The only thing gas bridges to is a warming world.  Methane is a primary component of natural gas, and pound for pound the comparative impact of methane is over 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

It’s not all bad news though, and we need to take time to tell the President that his focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy is putting America on the right track.

If you didn’t catch the State of the Union here are some excerpts from the fact sheet. (As a side note: the first point highlights clean energy technology, but categorizes nuclear and coal as clean.  CCE does not support this definition of clean energy.)

Highlights from the State of the Union fact sheet:

  • Partnering with States, Cities and Tribes to Move to Energy Efficiency and Cleaner Power.  As part of the Climate Action Plan, the President directed his Administration to work with States to develop clean energy and energy efficiency policies. Already, 10 States have market-based systems to reduce carbon pollution; more than 35 States have renewable energy targets that are a magnet for clean energy investment in technologies like wind, solar, hydropower, coal with carbon capture and storage, nuclear, and geothermal; and over 25 States have state-wide programs to cut energy waste.  Building on this progress, the Environmental Protection Agency is working with states, utilities and others to develop new carbon pollution standards for power plants. In addition, last month the President announced a commitment of more than $1 billion in energy savings performance contracts by nine States and several cities across the country– another example of State and local governments deploying smart policies to drive investment and create jobs as part of a clean energy economy.
  • Setting New Energy Efficiency Standards.  As part of the Climate Action Plan, since August, the Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed five energy conservation standards and finalized one standard for appliances and equipment.  These actions will cut consumers’ electricity and gas bills by hundreds of billions of dollars while reducing carbon pollution.
  • Taking Steps to Make our Communities More Resilient to the Effects of Climate Change.  In November 2013, President Obama signed an executive order directing agencies to help American communities strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other climate-related impacts. Under the EO, agencies are working to modernize Federal programs to better support preparedness for climate change impacts. The EO also established a State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force which is composed of 26 elected officials from across the country, which will advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can modernize programs and provide tools to support local climate preparedness efforts.

In contrast to the above policies that will strengthen the U.S. ability to invest in clean renewable energy, the President is still touting the benefits of natural gas.  Again, some excerpts from the fact sheet:

  • Promoting Safe and Responsible Production of Natural Gas. Natural gas is helping to reduce carbon pollution, and the Administration is taking steps to make production safer.  The Administration is developing new environmental standards for oil and gas drilling on public lands and will continue to invest in research to ensure safe and responsible natural gas production. Under the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Administration is also developing a multi-sector strategy to reduce methane emissions.
  • Creating Jobs through Shale Gas Development.  The President is calling on Congress to work with the Administration and State and local governments to create Sustainable Shale Gas Growth Zones, helping regions come together to make sure shale gas is developed in a safe, responsible way that helps build diverse and resilient regional economies that can withstand boom-and-bust cycles and can be leaders in building and deploying clean energy technologies. Smart regional planning and federal technical assistance to States and local communities can ensure we develop shale gas the right way and, at the same time, create stable communities with well-paying jobs.
  • Boosting Utilization of Natural Gas in Transportation and Industry.  In addition, the President announced specific ways to better focus on leveraging natural gas in manufacturing, transportation, and power generation–creating jobs, reducing costs, and reducing dependence on foreign oil.  The Administration will help States and localities coordinate review of proposed private sector projects to invest in new energy-intensive U.S. manufacturing plants relying on natural gas.  The Administration will also expand tax incentives to build fuel infrastructure and to replace oil with U.S. produced natural gas in trucks and other transportation.

The messages we have been sending to tell our elected officials that we want clean renewable energy and action on climate change are making  a difference, but we need to make sure they know that the actions we want don’t include more dirty fossil fuels.

Contact the White House and make sure they know you support renewables like wind and solar, and do not want dirty fracking gas.

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