(ADPnews) - Sep 21, 2010 - A bipartisan group of Senators has revived hopes that the US could end up with a nationwide renewable energy standard (RES), planning to introduce a bill today that will fulfil the industry's calls from 2012.
The legislation will be co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat; Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and possibly Susan Collins, a Maine Republican. Democrat Tom Udall, the other New Mexico senator, and Democrat Byron Dorgan of North Dakota may also sign on.
The US has so far made a number of thwarted attempts at passing a national RES. Most recently, such a provision was scrapped from a much broader climate change bill to ensure passage through Senate. Still, Republicans balked at a proposal in the pared-down bill to waive the USD 75 million (EUR 57m) cap on offshore oil spill damages in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, arguing such a move would drive investments away from the region, thus deepening US dependence on foreign oil.
Now the new Bingaman-Brownback bill would be stand-alone, possibly bolstering its chances of scraping through a floor vote this year.
The US renewable energy industry has voiced numerous calls for the introduction of a nationwide RES but lawmakers have so far turned a deaf ear to the appeals and warnings that thousands of green-collar jobs are in jeopardy.
"A refusal to pass an RES is an attack on every American worker and consumer," Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said at end-July. "Not passing an RES endangers at least 360,000 jobs: 85,000 currently employed in the wind industry and the potential 274,000 additional jobs created by an RES."
A national RES would also beef up market security for investors. Although more than 30 US states have already moved to set their own RES, the absence of a nationwide mandate has taken its toll on the industry.