Loading...

Environmentalists Tell Congress to Invest in Efficient Electricity

June 29, 2021 by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON — Environmental advocates promoted a plan to Congress Tuesday that calls for the United States to reach a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.

Fossil fuels and coal-fired electrical generating plants would be replaced by solar power, hydroelectric dams and offshore wind energy under four congressional bills. In addition, the nation’s electrical grid would be retrofitted or expanded with more efficient transmission equipment.

As they spoke, the Pacific Northwest sweltered under record high temperatures and meteorologists predicted more of the same this summer and many years to come from global warming.

“The energy sector is the second largest source of greenhouse emissions in the U.S.,” said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy.

Other parts of the bills seek a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. They would empower federal agencies to enact and enforce regulations to carry the plan through to completion.

In other words, it’s a get-tough environmental plan while global warming leaves nothing but tough options.

Some lawmakers wondered whether the bills are too tough to be realistic.

“I’m concerned we are creating an affordability crisis,“ said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

The energy alternatives advocated in the proposed legislation would drive up costs for consumers, she said.

She mentioned the example of disincentives in the bills to build more natural gas pipelines, which she said would raise electricity costs for consumers.

“This is not the way to lead to a clean energy future,” Rodgers said.

Much of the recent momentum for more efficient electricity originates with the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan, which the president designed to improve the nation’s infrastructure, create hundreds of thousands of jobs and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 inspired economic downturn.

An agreement President Joe Biden reached with Republicans last week would invest $973 billion in infrastructure over five years, or $1.2 trillion over eight years.

Parts of the deal touch on bills considered by the energy subcommittee Tuesday.

They include $15 billion for a switch from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles and wider use of public transit. Another $47 billion would be spent to make municipal electrical generators and other infrastructure more resilient to severe weather or climate change.

The Biden administration says U.S. electricity demand is expected to double by 2050 over 2018 levels.

The roughly 20 new major electrical generation projects the U.S. Energy Department envisions building to meet the demand would create more than 600,000 jobs at transmission plants and 640,000 jobs to maintain transmission lines, according to Patricia A. Hoffman, an Energy Department assistant secretary.

New technologies already are making clean energy more practical for industry, Hoffman said. Much of it consists of wind and solar energy as well as electrical storage systems.

However, making it accessible to the most heavily populated areas is an obstacle.

“The most economically attractive potential renewable resources are typically located in geographic areas that are remote from the areas where demand centers are located,” Hoffman said in her testimony.

As a result, large investments in electrical generation infrastructure and interconnections that could include a bigger role for the federal government are needed, she said.

“Numerous studies find that a reliable power system that depends on very high levels of renewable energy will be impossible to implement without doubling or tripling the size and scale of the nation’s transmission system,” Hoffman said. “Such investments in transmission infrastructure include increasing the capacity of existing lines, minimizing transmission losses through the use of new technologies and building new long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Climate

'We're Back, Baby': New Bill Boosts US Climate Credibility

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a moment when hopes dimmed that the United States could become an international leader on climate... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a moment when hopes dimmed that the United States could become an international leader on climate change, legislation that Congress is poised to approve could rejuvenate the country’s reputation and bolster its efforts to push other nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions... Read More

August 8, 2022
by Dan McCue
With Senate Passage, Nation on Cusp of Having First Climate Law

WASHINGTON — “It wasn’t on the scoreboard one month ago,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., marveled when talking to reporters over... Read More

WASHINGTON — “It wasn’t on the scoreboard one month ago,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., marveled when talking to reporters over the weekend, but in just a matter of days a budget reconciliation bill long presumed dead was suddenly a “historic” achievement. And if the House follows... Read More

August 8, 2022
by Dan McCue
Wildfires Have Destroyed Almost All of California’s Forest Carbon Offsets, Study Says

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Carbon released during an epic series of wildfire seasons in California has effectively wiped out most of... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Carbon released during an epic series of wildfire seasons in California has effectively wiped out most of the 100-year buffer that had been built into the state’s carbon trading system, a new study has found. According to the California Department of Forestry and... Read More

Democrats Say They've Reached Agreement on Economic Package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats have agreed to eleventh-hour changes to their marquee economic legislation, they announced late Thursday, clearing... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats have agreed to eleventh-hour changes to their marquee economic legislation, they announced late Thursday, clearing the major impediment to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s paramount election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a centrist seen as the... Read More

Forecasters Trim Hurricane Season Outlook a Bit, Still Busy

This hurricane season may be a tad quieter than forecasters initially thought, but it will still likely be busier than normal,... Read More

This hurricane season may be a tad quieter than forecasters initially thought, but it will still likely be busier than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others predict. NOAA forecasters Thursday trimmed their hurricane season outlook from a 65% chance for above normal activity to... Read More

August 1, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
House Approves Bill to Fight Fires Raging Across Western States

WASHINGTON — The heat wave hanging over Western states during the weekend turned a northern California wildfire into the state’s... Read More

WASHINGTON — The heat wave hanging over Western states during the weekend turned a northern California wildfire into the state’s biggest of the year while firefighters continued battling it Monday. The raging McKinney Fire also is giving political momentum to a wildfire response bill approved by... Read More

News From The Well