28 Jan 2011

A U.S. clean energy standard could bridge partisan divide

Written by Jim Pierobon

Given the widening divide between proponents and opponents of a bonafide national renewable electricity standard / requirement, a discussion is expanding about roles for a “clean energy standard,” or CES. This trek is fraught with gamesmanship that could sully the definition of what is “clean” and what isn’t. But maybe this is moot now.

A CES would include both renewable and other clean energy sources and ostensibly provide states flexibility in how they reach aggressive targets for clean energy generation, and recognizes the diversity in regional energy resources.  It could help protect the economy and diversify the U.S. fuel mix while creating the certainty a growing number of  private-sector energy leaders are calling for.

The Center for American Progress, an outgrowth of the thinking that drove the Democratic Leadership Council during the Clinton presidency, has been trying to frame the discussions with this 2009 memo. The memo has been fine-tuned and now powers what is rapidly becoming a firey debate.

The renewed prospects for a CES is sending stakeholders back to their white boards. If the greens get enough for renewables, efficiency and electric vehicles with a proper dose of incentives for natural gas, legitimate carbon-free coal and the weakening nuclear “renaissance,” then a deal just might be doable.

“Some folks want wind and solar,” Obama said in his State of the Union address. “Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all — and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”

Manik Roy, vice president of federal government outreach at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, was “absolutely amazed and impressed” the President spent as much time as he did talking about clean energy, according to this report by ClimateWire published in The New York Times.

To other experts, it shows how desperate Obama is to make some strides toward a cleaner energy future and the window of opportunity it presents. His overt willingness to compromise is probably what upset Carol Browner, President Obama’s climate and energy czar, so much that she

Carol Browner speaking at a Center for American Progess forum. Credit: Center for American Progress

resigned this week. She could have been very person to usher this through Congress  — unless her idealism undercut her ability to craft a compromise that a clean energy standard, at this point, must embody.

If greens have any clout left, they want nothing to do with any standard that includes nuclear, coal or natural gas. See this rebuttal to the President’s address.

Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply