Editorial: Burning rubber down veto road
The problem with our nation’s strategy for energy reform is two-fold: Partisan bickering is limiting legislation to short-term solutions. And amid all this bickering, it appears most of Congress failed to learn from Colorado, which became the first to regulate renewable energy in 2004 when voters passed Amendment 37.
The result is bad news for the energy bill, which includes both better mile-per-gallon standards and renewable energy targets for utilities. President Bush said this week that while he applauds the congressional effort, he will not tolerate the additional taxes Congress wants to implement to pay for the enormous amount of technology and subsidies needed to initiate all the proposed reforms.
Because of the partisan split, Congress can’t make a case on how to pay for it, which means the federal bill is headed for the executive Dumpster.
To that, we give a loud cough from the corner and hope someone listens. Mandating miles-per-gallon standards is a fruitless ambition at this point, as Colorado, like the Feds, are tied to the gas tax for road upkeep and maintenance. Yet the renewable energy provisions in Amendment 37, which require state utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewables by 2015, have proven affordable and a good road map for the Federal government.
Let the energy companies explain how and why. Excel Energy, which initially opposed the amendment, met the 10 percent goal eight years early. Not only that, Excel is keeping costs relatively low, and said its renewables program is expected to cost the average residential customer a measly 79 cents a month.
In reality, miles-per-gallon mandates are only short-term limiters, do nothing to limit actual usage, and could cost the country billions. On top of that, David Friedman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, on whose calculations the Democratic leaders relied, points out population growth will override any energy savings derived from the energy bill, meaning total oil and gas usage will still be slightly higher in 2020 no matter what happens.
Rep. Mark Udall, our Democratic representative from Boulder County, said he will talk to members of the Senate where the renewable energy provisions failed, and highlight Colorado’s experience with Amendment 37. We hope the Feds listen, and present an energy bill to the President that maintains the renewable energy portion, while resigning to fight the miles-per-gallon battle another day, when we truly have something to gain.
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