Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) on Wednesday introduced legislation in the House to create a federal renewable electricity standard (RES) that would require the United States to draw a quarter of its electricity from clean sources by 2025. Markey also introduced a second bill that would require the country to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2020.

The American Renewable Energy Act [PDF] would put an RES in place starting in 2012. The legislators estimate that it would help create more than 350,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia already have RES’s in place, including both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the legislators’ home states.

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Markey and Platts helped get an RES passed in the House last Congress as part of the 2007 energy bill, but the provision didn’t make it through the Senate.

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“With our economy in crisis, renewable energy can create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs, revitalize declining manufacturing sectors, and decrease global warming pollution,” said Markey, who chairs the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming and the energy and environment subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Establishing a federal renewable electricity standard will help to protect our environment as well as promote economic development and energy security,” said Platts.

Markey’s second bill, the Save American Energy Act [PDF], would create an energy-efficiency resource standard that mandates a 15 percent reduction in electricity demand by 2020. Markey estimates that the measure would reduce peak electricity demand by 90,000 megawatts and eliminate the need for 300 new medium-size power plants.

The Union of Concerned Scientists put out a statement in support of the RES bill, noting that it would increase power generation from renewable sources by 135 percent and provide enough clean electricity to power 150 million homes, according to its analysis.

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“This electrifying standard would provide a smart, proven, cost-effective strategy to ramp up our clean energy use, create tens of thousands of jobs, and lower consumer utility bills,” said Alan Nogee, director of the UCS Clean Energy Program. “The clean energy tax incentives that Congress is finalizing will get us moving in the right direction in the near term, and the renewable energy standard makes sure we stay on that path for the foreseeable future.”

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski also praised the bill. “This bill will create an economic demand for wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years,” he said. “It will help establish a powerful, productive, and profitable clean energy industry that will employ generations of Americans.”