Calls Current Proposals ‘By No Means Strong Enough'
WASHINGTON, June 22 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today laid out core principles that he said should be part of any comprehensive energy legislation, and he bluntly concluded in a letter to the Senate leader that it "makes no sense at all" to promote coal and nuclear power over cleaner, safer energy sources.
"I am concerned that the current legislative proposals we are examining are by no means strong enough in terms of energy efficiency and sustainable energy," Sanders wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Any legislation responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, Sanders said, should move the United States away from fossil fuels and toward energy independence. The chairman of the Senate green jobs subcommittee also said a strong U.S. energy policy would cut greenhouse gas emissions while creating millions of good-paying jobs.
Sanders singled out for criticism a weakness in the Kerry-Lieberman proposal to provide more than $100 billion for nuclear and coal, far more than their plan would invest in energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources. "If we are serious about combating global warming, moving to energy independence and creating millions of jobs in the future, we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels" Sanders said. "At the very least, any serious energy bill must include funding for energy efficiency and sustainable energy that is on a par with the amounts provided for nuclear and coal."
Sanders developed and sent to Reid a proposal that would ensure that the energy bill has a significant sustainable energy investment of tens of billions of dollars over a 10-year period. The three principles that Sanders told Reid must be a part of any legislation include:
- A strong energy efficiency and renewable energy provision. Sanders would invest at least 10 percent of the resources from global warming legislation in efficient and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. An investment of $8 billion to $13 billion a year, he said, would create as many as 2 million new jobs.
- A ban on new offshore drilling. Congress should reinstate a moratorium in effect for decades and ban drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as Florida's gulf coast. In addition, Congress should demand dramatically improved fuel-economy standards. While better gas mileage could save the equivalent of $1.43 a gallon by 2030, wide-open drilling would produce only enough additional petroleum to bring prices down by 3-cents a gallon.
- A strong renewable electricity standard. Renewable energy standards, also known as renewable portfolio standards, require that a certain percentage of total energy needs be generated from renewable sources. The United States should set a national standard requiring 25 percent renewable power by 2025. "This provision alone could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs while helping to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals," Sanders said.