May 22, 2009

Senate Committee Denies Amendment Against Renewable Requirements

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted on Friday to oppose an amendment that would eliminate a provision requiring utility companies to use some form of renewable energy.

The amendment was proposed by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. It targeted a bill by Chairman Jeff Bingaman to require utilities to gather 15 percent of their overall energy from renewable sources by 2012.

"The renewable electricity standard would put us on the track to becoming less dependent on greenhouse gas-emitting resources. It would also move us in the direction of being more secure as to price and supply, as well as less dependent for foreign sources," said Bingaman.

The amendment was struck down in a vote of 9-13. However, the committee's reasons for voting against the measure were mixed, according to the New York Times.

The Times reported that Republican Senator Bob Corker was against the renewable electricity standard, but hoped the bill would aim for the addition of nuclear and other energy production.

"I may be willing on the floor to support energy legislation that I don't think makes very much sense in the hopes it includes other things that I do think make a lot of sense," said Corker.

Meanwhile, Senators Bernie Sanders, Byron Dorgan, Mark Udall and Maria Cantwell voted against the amendment, adding that the 15 percent standard is not "robust" enough, said the Times.

"Despite the chairman's best efforts the [renewable electricity] standard we are markup today is woefully inadequate," Sanders said. "We are way behind where the American people are. The only reason to support this is to take it to the floor to do something far more significant."

Sessions argues that the proposed bill would be unfair for certain regions of the US that may not be able to increase the use of renewable sources.

"I don't think this makes sense. In the Southeast, this will be a disproportionate cost to us," said Sessions.

The bill also includes a provision to allow states to purchase energy from renewable sources.


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