Lincoln Chafee on Energy & Oil
Independent RI Governor; previously Republican Senator (1999-2007)
On vote after vote, we failed to close the SUV loophole and raise mileage standards overall. Unfortunately, American carmakers fight these efforts to mandate fuel-efficient vehicles and, predictably, foreigners are beating us in the marketplace just as they did in the 1970s. The industry has a history of fighting innovation.
I thought, "Let's leave just one place off limits." A Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, had signed ANWR into existence; I was not about to be a part of undoing his vision.
If ANWR is a wildlife refuge, wildlife should find sanctuary there, by definition. Letting in the oil companies while still calling it a refuge struck me as dishonest.
Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30% more energy efficient than those available today.
Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions.
Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens.
Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save businesses and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change, to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the US by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the US and reduce dependence upon foreign oil, and ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bill is designed to begin a meaningful and shared effort among the emission-producing sectors of our country to address the world's greatest environmental challenge--climate change.
The National Academy of Sciences reported, "temperatures are, in fact, rising." The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is real, that it is happening as we speak.
Terrible things are happening at the poles, which will have global implications. Amplified global warming, rising sea levels, and potential alterations in ocean circulation patterns are among the global concerns.
The International Climate Change Task Force recommended that "all developed countries introduce mandatory cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions and construct them to allow for future integration into a single global market." That is already being done in Europe as we speak, which is the substance of this legislation.
If we do not move on this issue, our children and grandchildren are going to pay an incredibly heavy price because this crisis is upon us, only we do not see its visible aspects in all of its enormity. We have done relatively nothing besides gather additional data and make reports. That is what the US national policy is today: gather information and make reports. I would argue that is a pretty heavy burden to lay on future generations of Americans.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; never came to a vote.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend through 2016 the tax credit for electricity produced from wind, biomass, geothermal or solar energy, landfill gas, trash, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities.
Proponent's Comments (Governor's Wind Energy Coalition letter of Nov. 15, 2011 signed by 23 governors):Although the tax credit for wind energy has long enjoyed bipartisan support, it is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Wind-related manufacturing is beginning to slow in our states because the credit has not yet been extended. If Congress pursues a last minute approach to the extension, the anticipated interruption of the credit's benefits will result in a significant loss of high-paying jobs in a growing sector of the economy. We strongly urge Congress to adopt a more consistent and longer-term federal tax policy to support wind energy development, such as H.R. 3307.
The leading wind project developers and manufacturers are slowing their plans for 2013 and beyond due to the current uncertainty. The ripple effect of this slow down means reduced orders for turbines and decreased business for the hundreds of manufacturers who have entered the wind industry in our states. When Congress allowed the tax credit to expire in 1999, 2001, and 2003, the development of new wind installations dropped significantly, between 73% and 93%, and thousands of jobs were lost. Providing renewable energy tax credits in order to provide consistency with conventional energy tax credits is the right policy to move the nation forward in an energy sector that offers global export opportunities and the ability to modernize a segment of our electric production infrastructure.
The Republican Main Street Partnership supports the goal of immediate, near-term reductions in greenhouse gases, and would move toward this goal by providing strong incentives that have minimal adverse impact on the economy, and to continue to apply our best scientific minds to developing a better understanding of the long-term nature of climate change and the means to cope with it.
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