The first bill U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, has introduced in the Senate would require utilities to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources.
Markey’s bill indicates the senator’s continuing focus on energy and climate change issues, which were at the forefront of Markey’s 37-year career in the U.S. House.
In the House, Markey wrote the Markey-Waxman bill, which would have instituted a cap and trade system in which companies would have to pay for the greenhouse gases they emit. That bill passed the House in 2009 but was not taken up by the Senate.
After he was elected to the Senate in June, Markey was appointed co-chair of the Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse, an unofficial forum for senators to discuss climate change legislation.
Markey’s new bill, titled the American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act, would require electric utilities to obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2025. It would also require electric and natural gas utilities to put in place energy efficiency programs that save the equivalent of 15 percent and 10 percent of their sales, respectively, by 2025. Both requirements would be phased in gradually over the next decade. Utilities would be issued renewable energy credits that they could sell or trade, and companies that do not conform to the new standards would have to pay a fee.
Markey argues that the bill would create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act would quadruple renewable energy production in the United States,” Markey said in a statement. “It would create more than 400,000 jobs. We can put steelworkers and ironworkers and electricians back to work building the new energy backbone for America, from Massachusetts to Montana.”
The bill is supported by a number of environmental groups and trade groups representing the renewable energy industry. However, opponents of such standards have typically argued that they will increase energy prices for consumers.
Markey has introduced similar legislation in the past, and the chances of his bill passing the bitterly divided Congress this year are low.
– By By Shira Schoenberg
This article was reposted from Masslive.com