House Energy and Commerce Committee representatives agreed on Tuesday that the U.S. must lead the world in climate change action but uncovered gaps in a proposed climate bill during the opening session of a weeklong series of hearings.
The Committee members were unanimous about the need for the U.S. to lower carbon emissions. Bruce L. Braley, an Iowa lawmaker said the bill - called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 - is the blueprint for the energy revolution that will affect the future of the planet.
This act is turning the Titanic around and setting targets that will help us to get to a new place with exciting new technologies, said John P. Sarbanes a Maryland representative.
Many on the panel were concerned about a renewable energy standard proposed on the bill, which did not consider nuclear and waste energy and how the government would distribute carbon permits which would allow for the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Washington representative Jay Inslee urged for a reasonable disposition of the emission caps noting that in Europe, giving away all the permits resulted in scandal.”
In addition, some panel members disagreed on the renewable energy standard proposed in the bill, which gives states, and not the Federal Government, the right to impose the standards.
Some requested a greater mix of renewable power including nuclear and biomass. At least two committee members expressed concern that nuclear energy is only mentioned twice in the entire legislation draft and urged for the inclusion of this source.
The bill proposes a mandate for utilities to obtain 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Currently, only 3 percent of the electricity is produced by renewable sources and nearly 50 percent from coal.
Despite of the concerns, the Committee is awaiting the testimony of over 50 individuals representing as many organizations, including members from President Obama's administration, energy and tech companies' chief executives and heads of multiple non-governmental organizations.