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June 11, 2005

Inslee, Smith and Larsen introduce "New Apollo" clean energy legislation

According to the helpful press release I got from Jay Inslee's office, he and fellow Washington Reps. Rick Larsen and Adam Smith are three of the fourteen founding co-sponors of the New Apollo Energy Act, which was introduced in Congress on Thursday. 

Like any energy legislation, the bill is long and complex. Inslee's press release touts the following bullet points:

Clean Energy: New Apollo provides $49 billion in government loan guarantees for the construction of clean-energy generation facilities that will produce power from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, oceans, coal with carbon-sequestration technology, and other sources.  The legislation also commits $10.5 billion to research-and-development and investment tax credits for clean energy-producing operations.  In addition, it includes a 10-year extension of the current tax credit for electricity generated from clean sources.

Oil Savings: The boosts for clean energy and efficiency will make it possible to meet New Apollo's call for notable reductions in daily domestic oil consumption -- cuts of 600,000 barrels a day by 2010, 1,700,000 barrels by 2015, and 3,000,000 barrels by 2020.  These numbers are estimates of the amount of oil the United States would soon be importing daily from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the entire Middle East, respectively, without a change in current policy.

Fuel Efficiency: The best way to generate energy is to not waste it, so New Apollo includes incentives for American consumers to drive fuel-efficient vehicles, including tax credits for the purchase of hybrid, alternative-fuel, low-emission advanced diesel, and fuel-cell vehicles. It also provides $11.5 billion in tax credits for the automotive and aerospace industries to develop new fuel efficient automobiles and planes, retool existing plants, and construct new plants to manufacture energy efficient vehicles.

Global Warming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: New Apollo enacts a proposal similar to the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act by capping our emissions of greenhouse gases while allowing companies to purchase and trade credits among themselves to ensure the most cost-effective reductions, and funding research to help industries make the shift to cleaner operations. The bill targets one of the biggest greenhouse-gas offenders -- coal -- by providing $7 billion in loan guarantees for the development of clean coal power plants.

Clean Energy Jobs:  New Apollo will close the existing technology gap with foreign competitors by investing billions of dollars in new federal research into advanced clean technologies, and creating a government-funded risk pool to help struggling start-up clean-energy companies commercialize their products.  One study by the Apollo Alliance has found that a substantial federal commitment to clean energy could yield up to 3.3 million jobs nationally.

Renewable Portfolio:  New Apollo contains a Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring all utilities, by 2021, to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

Energy Transmission:  New Apollo creates national net-metering and interconnection standards that allow homeowners who generate clean energy to reduce their energy bills by feeding surplus electricity back into the grid.  New Apollo additionally increases regulatory oversight of energy trading markets, which was a problem during Enron's manipulation of the West Coast energy crisis.

Does not increase the deficit: New Apollo is revenue neutral, and pays for its provisions by closing abusive corporate tax shelters and loopholes, and through auctioning off some of the allowances under the carbon dioxide trading program. 

Obviously, it will be a cold day in Saudi Arabia hell before Bush, Cheney and the oil industry lobbyists that own them get behind something as intelligent and responsible as New Apollo.  But at least the alternative is on the table.  It will be interesting to see if Inslee et al. are able to win support from the true conservatives, who, after all, might actually be in favor of... conserving things.

Jay's got an op-ed at Grist discussing the bill with some comment and discussion by his legislative assistant.

And for a lighter take on the topic of energy, check out Jon Stewart's recent bit on high gas prices.

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 11, 2005 at 12:40 PM in Policy | Permalink

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