"Our economy is driven by energy, so we must make sure that we have the clean, domestic energy sources that we need for a 21st century economy. Our children should not be burdened by a damaged environment, nor should they be dependent on foreign sources for their energy. I am working to develop renewable energy in the United States and ensure that clean, affordable energy is available to all Americans." -- Rep. Adam Schiff
As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Congressman Schiff has long advocated for increased investments in the search for alternative fuels and the development of energy efficient technology. Today, European and Asian competitors are already developing technologies that will reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Rather than American entrepreneurs, it is our competitors who are prospering from these developments. By marshalling America's great strengths -- our innovativeness, our technological prowess, and our entrepreneurial spirit -- Congressman Schiff believes that we can better secure our nation, save the environment, and become the world leader in a cutting edge industry.
On the first day of the 111th Congress, Congressman Schiff submitted H.R. 175, a bill to expand the ability of the Federal Government to purchase cheap renewable energy. The current 10-year limit on energy purchase contracts prevents government agencies from contracting with the many private installers who sign agreements with homeowners, businesses and local and state government agencies to install solar, geothermal or wind energy on their premises and recoup the cost with a long-term agreement to buy power, often at lower-than-market rates. Unfortunately, to get the cheapest rates, these agreements must stretch to 20 years. H.R. 175 fixed this problem and was included in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219-212.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is a ground-breaking effort to provide energy independence and fight global warming while keeping energy prices low. Taking effect in 2012, it would cap greenhouse gas emissions and then allow companies to trade their permits to emit so that market encourages the cheapest reductions to be made. It would initially distribute some permits for free, and use the proceeds of selling some permits to reduce energy costs for low-income households and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Congressman Schiff was also a cosponsor of the Securing America's Energy Independence Act, which extended for eight years the tax credit for installing solar panels or fuel cells to provide clean energy for individual homes and businesses. This measure was included in H.R. 1424 of the 110th Congress, which was signed by the President on October 3, 2008.
In the 110th Congress, he cosponsored the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act, which would support the development of geothermal energy, an important renewable energy resource that makes up a large fraction of California's renewable energy production.
The easiest and cheapest way to reduce our dependence on foreign energy is to reduce our overall energy consumption through improved efficiency. Congressman Schiff cosponsored a suite of bills in the last Congress to address this challenge, many of which were included in the American Clean Energy and Security Act. These bills included H.R. 589, the Get Real Incentives to Drive Plug-in Act, which would support the development of plug-in hybrids through research funding and government agency purchases, H.R. 539, the Buildings for the 21st Century Act, which would increase and extend the tax deduction for energy-efficient buildings, and H.R. 969, a bill to phase in a federal standard that twenty percent of all energy must be renewable by 2020.
The Price of Gas
The price of gasoline has risen dramatically in the last few years. Although there are many reasons that oil prices have risen, including conflict in the Middle East and increased demand from the developing world, Congressman Schiff believes that the record high profits of oil companies--some posting the highest quarterly profits of any company in history--are exacerbating the problem. He has cosponsored the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would make it easier for the government to prosecute companies that take unfair advantage of unusual market conditions. This bill passed the House on May 23, 2007 by a vote of 284-141.
In the long term, Congressman Schiff believes that the best way to lower energy prices is to invest in alternative fuels and fuel efficiency. He has advocated for increased fuel economy standards for many years, and is a cosponsor of the Fuel Economy Reform Act, which would raise fuel economy standards by about 4% per year to ensure that we preserve our energy security.