On August 4th, the US House passed a bill that may increase the importance of renewable energy sources in the production of local electricity.
The goal is to make renewables like wind power or solar PV account for 15 percent of the total electricity produced in the United States by 2020.
The bill also included less tax breaks for oil companies in order to offer large incentives to promote massively energy conservation research and clean electricity sources.
According to the article by the New York Times :
The energy measure passed by a vote of 241-172, with 26 Republicans voting in favor and 9 Democrats opposed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had made the bill one of her top legislative priorities for her first year as leader of the House Democrats.
The bill allots money for the development of alternative fuels and for increased efficiency of appliances and buildings. It is also meant to spur research on methods to capture the carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say are largely responsible for global warming.
The House also passed a bill to repeal roughly $16 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry enacted in 2005. Some of the money would be used to pay for the research grants and renewable-fuel projects in the energy bill.
The bill the House passed on Saturday sets new requirements for energy efficiency in appliances and government buildings. It also contains billions of dollars in incentives for production of alternative fuels, new research on capturing carbon emissions from refineries and coal-burning power plants and training for workers in the “green” industries of the future.
Furthermore, according to an article by the French daily Le Figaro, the bill would forbid incandescent 100 W light bulbs by 2012 and would replace them by low consumption ones.
However, everything is not done yet as there are no regulations concerning transportation in the House bill. This sector of the US economy is accounting for nearly a third of greenhouse gases local emissions.
All these interesting ideas might not be enacted as they have to be discussed with the Senate, which has other opinions on that matter. Indeed :
The Senate passed energy legislation in June with numerous differences from the House package. The Senate version requires that cars and light trucks sold in the United States achieve a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
For some Democrats, the ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral by 2050, ie. that the Federal government’s action would not increase global warming. However, the bill didn’t include any idea of how to achieve such an ambitious goal.
So to conclude we can say that the United States’ Federal government is moving more and more toward the mitigation of climate change. This is indeed very good news.
Sources and further reading :
- IHT article : US House approves taxes on oil companies, incentives for renewable fuels, conservation ;
- NYT article : Energy Bill Adopted by House Requires Utilities to Use Renewable Power Sources ;
- Le Figaro article : Recours forcé aux énergies renouvelables aux États-Unis.