As the Senate takes up critical legislation that would hold Big Oil accountable and create jobs in Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) highlighted key provisions of the bill on a news conference call today. The Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability Act, introduced in the Senate yesterday, would ensure that BP pays the full costs of damages; invest in Home Star, a bipartisan energy efficiency program that lowers consumers' energy costs and creates jobs; and reduce our dependence on oil by making investments in vehicles that run on electricity and natural gas.
"This is about creating jobs for Ohio's manufacturers and lowering energy costs for Ohio households. It's about holding big oil companies accountable for the damage they wreak on our environment and our economy. And by holding Big Oil accountable, this bill will also boost Ohio manufacturers who produce energy efficient products and the electric vehicles of tomorrow," Brown said. "Not only will this bill increase our energy independence, it would help create jobs for Ohio manufacturers. The Home Star Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program would provide incentives for homeowners to make energy efficient investments in homes across Ohio. Energy efficient windows and doors, insulated vinyl siding, or heating and cooling systems reduce utility bills while increasing the value of the most important asset for many Americans - their home."
For a full summary of the legislation, click here. Below are key provisions Brown outlined during today's call.
Oil Spill Response and Accountability
The legislation would ensure that BP, not taxpayers, pay for the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf Coast. The provision calls for oil companies to invest in technologies that help to prevent and respond to domestic oil spills and require that structural reforms be made to the Department of Ocean Energy (known previously as the Minerals Management Service) to address mismanagement and historical corruption issues.
The provision, based on the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act which Brown cosponsored, would change current law, which places a $75 million cap for damages such as lost business revenues or tax revenues for state and local governments. The bill would eliminate the cap on damages.
Reducing Oil Consumption and Pollution
The bill includes provisions that would encourage the retrofit of the nation"s heavy vehicle fleet through investments in natural gas and the electrification of the nation"s cars and trucks. Specifically the bill would require the DOE to develop a national plan for supporting the deployment of electric drive vehicles and would provide technical assistance aimed at helping communities achieve the national deployment of electric drive vehicles. It would provide loan guarantees for eligible entities that purchase more than 200 qualified automotive batteries in a calendar year for use in nonautomotive applications. This is aimed at helping to attract battery manufacturing facilities to the U.S. while plug-in electric drive vehicle production is still ramping up. The bill would also provide grants for training first responders, electricians, contractors, engineers, code inspection officials, dealers, mechanics, and others engaged in the new technology adoption.
Ohio is poised to be a leader in the electric vehicles industry. The state's academic and industrial research base is unmatched across the country and Ohio's scientists and engineers are already engaged in cutting edge electric vehicle research. Just last week, a Cincinnati electric vehicle start up (AMP Electric Vehicle) made it to the final round of a competition that would provide $10 million to the first developer of a car that could reach 100 miles per gallon. Earlier this year, CODA Automotive chose Ohio to build batteries for its electric vehicle. BASF is investing millions in its Elyria plant that will make components for electric car batteries. This electric vehicle legislation will help manufacturers make the transition to a clean energy economy and expand\ the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles a reality.
Clean Energy Job Creation and Consumer Savings
The legislation would also provide $5 billion in incentives for the Home Star program which will offer point of sale rebates to encourage homeowners to make energy efficiency upgrades, providing a boost to Ohio manufacturers. This is based on the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010, which Brown has cosponsored. The bill would help lower energy costs for consumers, create new demand for Ohio-manufactured products, and put people back to work through home energy retrofits. Consumers would be eligible for direct Home Star rebates at the point of sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes. A broad array of vendors, from small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.
More than 130 Ohio companies have endorsed the Home Star energy program. Following the call, Brown released a county-by-county analysis of Ohio companies which would stand to benefit under the program.