THE INTRODUCTION OF THE AMERICAN RENEWABLE ENERGY ACT -- (House of Representatives - February 4, 2009)
Mr. MARKEY. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing the "American Renewable Energy Act'' to create a national renewable electricity standard that will revitalize our economy by creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs, save consumers billions of dollars on their energy bills and reduce our Nation's global warming pollution by dramatically increasing our use of clean, renewable power. In the 110th Congress, the House repeatedly passed a national renewable electricity standard in overwhelming, bipartisan votes requiring that 15 percent of our electricity come from renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biomass and efficiency gains by 2020. The American Renewable Energy Act that I am introducing today would build upon that legislation and follows President Obama's goal that we generate 25 percent of our electricity from renewables by the year 2025.
Electric power generation is responsible for roughly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions--the most prevalent of the heat-trapping gases causing global warming. Right now, the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas currently produce more than 70 percent of U.S. electricity. However, the way that we generate electricity is already beginning to change dramatically.
In 2007, we installed 5,244 megawatts of new wind generation, which accounted for 35 percent of all new generation that came online, second only to natural gas. And in 2008, the United States installed more than 8,300 megawatts of new wind capacity--over 40 percent of all new generation that was brought online. That newly installed capacity in 2008 led to the creation of more than 35,000 jobs in the wind industry over the last year.
Much of that renewable generation is the result of states across the country that are putting policies in place to incentivize renewable generation. Already, 27 States and the District of Columbia have adopted renewable electricity standards at the State level. Adopting a national renewable electricity standard will further unleash our technological innovation and allow for the development of renewable resources all across the country.
Every region of the country has renewable resources waiting to be tapped. For instance, the Southeast is home to nearly a third of the biomass feedstock potential in the entire country. Special power plants can burn biomass exclusively and existing coal plants can co-fire biomass in their fuel stream without costly equipment upgrades, replacing 15 percent or more of fossil fuel needs with renewable fuel. Customer-sited solar photovoltaic cells would also earn triple credits under the legislation that I am introducing today, making the target much easier to achieve in places like Florida and Georgia where the solar photovoltaic resource is estimated to be 83-85 percent of the best solar resources in the world.
Adopting a national renewable electricity standard can reinvigorate our economy and our manufacturing sectors by creating an entire new cadre of green-collar jobs. Each wind turbine requires 220 to nearly 400 tons of steal to produce and workers to produce it. From the revamped Maytag plant that is now producing wind turbines in Iowa to the former Ohio manufacturing plant that President Obama visited on his way to Washington, alternative energy can revitalize our declining manufacturing centers all across our country. Adopting a 25 percent renewable electricity standard will create more than 350,000 green jobs by 2020--allowing the people who most need work to do the work that most needs to be done in order to address the climate crisis.
Moreover, adopting a renewable electricity standard will save consumers money by reducing their energy bills. Adopting a national standard of 25 percent will save consumers more than $49 billion over the next decade in lower energy bills, while channeling more than $70 billion in new investment into renewable technologies.
The American people overwhelming support a national renewable electricity standard. According to a December poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 84 percent of Americans support requiring utilities to increase their use of wind, solar and other renewable sources of power.
President Obama understands the importance of increasing our use of renewable energy to unleash a clean energy revolution that will get our economy moving again. The States all across the country that have already put similar policies in place understand the need for action. The overwhelming majority of the American people understand it. Now it is time for the Congress to take action to unleash the clean energy revolution by adopting a national renewable electricity standard.