Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Environmental Groups Unified In Support of Proposed Federal Energy Legislation

15 Groups Say Biofuels Are Key Part of Effort to Move U.S. Toward Clean Energy Future and Support a 36 BGY RFS

With the environmental and economic consequences of oil dependence becoming increasingly clear, the nation’s leading environmental groups are unified in support of the proposed federal energy bill, including its five main titles: (1) fuel economy standards; (2) renewable electricity standards; (3) improved energy efficiency; (4) a renewable fuel standard; and, (5) energy sector tax reform. False reports have circulated that while environmental groups support the renewable electricity and efficiency provisions, they oppose the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) based on land use concerns. But according to the letter below, these concerns have been addressed. The RFS calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022, 60 percent of which will be “advanced biofuels” made from second-generation feedstocks. As the United States continues to borrow nearly one billion dollars per day to keep foreign oil spigots open, the proposed energy bill would save consumers billions of dollars while creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs nationwide.


December 5, 2007

Dear Representative:

On behalf of our millions of members and activists, we urge you to support H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act. The bill will be subject to a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, and will be considered by the Senate as soon as December 8. Congress must pass this energy bill before recessing for 2007. Failure to pass this legislation will delay much needed solutions to high gasoline prices, U.S. oil dependence, and the global warming crisis, as well as miss an opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in renewable energy and other sectors of the economy.

With provisions that dramatically improve and modernize automotive fuel economy, promote renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency, reduce pollutants, and boost the production of environmentally-protective home-grown biofuels, H.R. 6 will move us toward a cleaner energy future and reduce global warming pollution while generating economic growth and creating jobs. On balance, we support H.R. 6 because of these critical provisions:

  • Increased Fuel Economy Standards. The product of a bipartisan agreement supported by the auto industry and labor representatives, the fuel economy provision will raise the combined fuel economy standard for cars and light trucks to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This will be the first meaningful improvement in fuel economy standards since 1975. The provision provides for separate attribute-based standards for cars and light trucks (with an exemption for work trucks) and retains a distinction between foreign- and domestically-made car fleets. Manufacturers have been given added flexibility through extended credits for making vehicles that can run on alternative fuels. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) estimates that in 2020, the standards would reduce oil use by roughly 1.1 million barrels per day, save consumers $22 billion annually at the pump, and cut 192 million metric tons of global warming pollution (equal to taking 28 million of cars off the road).
  • A Strong Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). This national standard requires utilities to produce 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The RES allows utilities to meet up to 27 percent of their targeted requirement through energy efficiency savings (the equivalent of up to 4 percent of the 15 percent requirement). The standard would diversify the U.S. energy supply and boost the production of clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar power, while creating jobs and promoting economic development. UCS projects the standard would save consumers at least $13 billion and cut 126 million metric tons of global warming pollution per year by 2020 (equal to taking over 20 million cars off the road).
  • Energy Efficiency Standards for Light Bulbs and Other Products. H.R. 6 includes valuable efficiency standards that will not only save consumers and businesses money, but also significantly reduce global warming pollution. The most prominent standards are for light bulbs, which would require typical light bulbs to use 25-30 percent less energy by 2012-14 and about two times less energy by 2020. Other provisions include new standards for dishwashers and clothes washers, and new Department of Energy authority to issue regional energy efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates the lighting standard alone would reduce global warming pollution by 100 million metric tons in 2030 relative to DOE projections.
  • A Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) with Added Environmental Safeguards. The RFS provision will bring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to the market by 2022 – a five-fold increase over the current standard – including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels made from corn alternatives. These targets are from the Senate bill passed on June 21st. Recognizing the immense pressures this mandate could have on farms, forests, and protected lands, the RFS includes some of the vital protections needed for our environment and food supply, while providing added flexibility for refiners. Conventional biofuels must generate 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, and advanced and cellulosic fuels must emit 50 and 60 percent less, respectively. These targets, which account for the full lifecycle impacts of biofuels production, including land conversion, help ensure that the RFS will have a net positive impact on the climate.
  • Tax Incentives for Clean Energy. Tax measures in H.R. 6 would repeal some oil industry subsidies and shift those resources to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. This section includes provisions from an earlier version of H.R. 6, which passed the House in January, and the President’s budget. Some of the more important incentives for clean energy are the production and investment tax credits for cellulosic fuels and renewable energy, and tax incentives for energy efficient buildings, equipment, and appliances. The bill also calls for a carbon audit of the tax code.

As H.R. 6 is called up for consideration, the price of crude oil is approaching nearly $100 per barrel, and the average price of gasoline is $3.10 per gallon. Congress is faced with an important opportunity to deliver an energy bill before the end of the year that will take significant strides to reduce our dependence on oil, increase our use of home-grown renewable energy, provide a down payment in the fight against global warming, reduce harmful pollutants that cause health threats, and save Americans money. We urge you to pass H.R. 6.


Kristen Miller, Legislative Director, Alaska Wilderness League

Betsy Loyless, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Audubon

Mary Beth Beetham, Director of Legislative Affairs, Defenders of Wildlife

Anna Aurilio, Director, Washington, D.C. Office, Environment America

Karen Steuer, Vice President for Government Affairs, National Environmental Trust

Bob Greunig, Senior Policy Analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council

Corry Westbrook, Legislative Director, National Wildlife Federation

Karen Wayland, Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

Pamela Miller, Arctic Coordinator, Northern Alaska Environmental Center

Will Callaway, Legislative Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Debbie Sease, Director, National Campaigns, Sierra Club

Ulla-Britt Reeves, Regional Program Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Nat Mund, Legislative Director, Southern Environmental Law Center

Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Linda Lance, Vice President for Public Policy, The Wilderness Society


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