January 23, 2007
12:14 PM
Senate Energy Committee Democrats today detailed their major energy policy priorities for this session of Congress. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, and while Democrats will work in a bipartisan fashion on these and other energy topics with their Republican colleagues, the following issues will be well represented on the committee’s legislative agenda for the next few months (as demonstrated by a number of hearings/events already scheduled, like our all-day biofuels conference on Feb. 1).
A Roadmap for Progress in the 110th Congress
America’s roadmap to energy security begins with an aggressive goal: reducing America’s petroleum imports 40 percent by 2020. Over the course of the 110th Congress, Senate Democrats will pursue a series of legislative initiatives and oversight activities designed to put America firmly on the path toward achieving this target:
Economy-Wide Efficiency & Renewable Energy Solutions: America can bolster its national security--and create new jobs--by realizing the potential of new technologies that will change the way we use and distribute energy. Senate Democrats will develop legislation to promote renewable energy and enhanced efficiency throughout the U.S. economy, including:
·        Measures to transform America’s transportation sector by encouraging the manufacture and adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles, developing advanced light-weight materials, and updating our infrastructure to accommodate plug-in technology at major hubs such as ports and airports;
·        A binding, national renewable energy requirement, which mandates that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity is derived from clean energy sources by 2020, including solar, geothermal, wind and other forms of renewable generation;
·        Policies to encourage “smart grid” development, which will create a more reliable energy system, ease integration of new renewable resources and distributed generation, and create demand-response incentives for industries and individual consumers;
·        Measures to help lower utility bills for consumers and businesses, by encouraging more productive use of electricity and natural gas through integrated energy management strategies, high-performance appliances and state-of-the-art green buildings; and
·        Real federal leadership, requiring the government to reduce its petroleum consumption 40 percent and purchase 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
Accelerated Biofuels Diversity: Home-grown biofuels can accelerate our transportation sector’s transition to energy sources beyond imported petroleum. In crafting policies to promote economical, feedstock-diverse biofuels production, Senate Democrats will develop legislation to expand and improve upon existing federal renewable fuels policies, and address infrastructure- and competition-related issues that may impact wholesale and retail distribution of biofuels throughout the country.
Tax Fairness for Emerging Energy Technologies:  Encouraging investment in new energy solutions requires a longer planning horizon than provided by our existing tax policies. Senate Democrats will work to extend through 2017 existing tax credits for renewable energy, biofuels distribution and efficient vehicles, as well as provide new tax incentives for green buildings and other measures that will enhance America’s energy security.
Reducing the Potential for Global Warming: By harnessing market forces to spur clean energy investments and technologies, a program to curb greenhouse gases can change the trajectory of global warming emissions without dampening America’s economic growth. Senate Democrats will work toward enactment of a comprehensive approach to global warming, with the goal of bringing together Senate leaders and others in government to advance the common good and live up to America’s responsibilities in the global community.
Enhancing Research, Development & Tomorrow’s Workforce: Senate Democrats will develop legislation to ramp up the Department of Energy’s capacity for basic and applied energy research, technology development and commercialization.  Particular attention needs to be paid to longer-term challenges, including breakthrough fuel and vehicle technologies based on hydrogen.  By developing a strong research and development base, we will ensure that America is educating the next generation of engineers and innovators, to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated and inter-related energy systems of the 21st Century.
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