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Springfield State Journal-Register Op-Ed: Clean energy act would create U.S. jobs, oil independence


Location: Washington, DC

Springfield State Journal-Register Op-Ed: Clean energy act would create U.S. jobs, oil independence

Earlier this summer, I supported the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act because the future of our national security, economy and environment rests on the ability to move past our dependence on foreign oil and become the global leader in clean-energy development.

Right now, we are losing an economic and innovation race with China, India, South Korea and other nations for the energy technologies that will power the next century and beyond. We are also losing the race against time to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing global climate change. ACES would create millions of green jobs that cannot be outsourced, make America more energy independent and aggressively combat global climate change - all while ensuring that consumers are protected from price increases they cannot afford.

ACES would transform our nation's energy infrastructure and bring lasting benefits to Illinois. The bill invests more than $190 billion in clean-energy development ranging from wind, solar and nuclear, to advanced hybrid and electric vehicles. This much-needed change, if enacted, would create millions of American jobs, including an estimated 70,000 in Illinois alone.

Because of the work on this bill by myself and other rural legislators, we have also ensured that coal and biofuels will continue to play a large role in our country's energy future.

ACES ensures that regions of the country that are dependent on coal for cheap electricity have the help they need to transition to a low-carbon, clean-energy economy. Fifty billion dollars would be invested in promoting advanced clean-coal technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, a specialty of energy innovators like Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland.

With the money that the bill puts toward new coal technologies, we can burn coal cleanly at home and export carbon-reducing technologies worth billions of dollars to major polluters such as China and India. Developing and deploying these new technologies will ensure that coal continues to play a valuable role in power production in America and abroad.

I am also proud that this bill provides additional allowances for rural electric cooperatives. This would ensure that distribution companies that provide power to remote areas are not placed at a disadvantage under the new regulations. It is essential to protect rural America as we transition to a renewable energy future.

In addition to revolutionizing the nation's energy sector and creating millions of clean-energy jobs, ACES takes significant steps to protect consumers from energy price increases by requiring a portion of the revenue that results from the bill to be returned directly to ratepayers.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the ACES legislation would increase energy costs for the average household in the 17th District only 39 cents per day. Low and fixed-income families would pay even less or may even see a decrease in energy costs.

ACES, combined with fuel efficiency standards proposed by President Barack Obama, would cut our use of oil by more than 5 million barrels a day in 2030 - more than 25 percent of our nation's current consumption. Every week, we are spending $1.6 billion on oil from the Middle East. It is time that we end this dangerous dependence.

It is also past time to actively address climate change and prevent a future of severe droughts, extreme storms and devastating floods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the existence of climate change is unequivocal.

The debate is over, but the solution is just beginning. ACES would reduce America's total global warming emissions 83 percent by 2050. American leadership on this issue will finally enable an international deal to be struck that includes heavy polluters like China and India. When America leads, the world follows.
In conversation after conversation, my constituents have told me they want a new direction on energy. They support a policy that addresses our challenges head on and leads us towards a clean-energy future. The American Clean Energy and Security Act is part of that change.

It would create clean-energy jobs while continuing to utilize coal, biofuels and nuclear power. It would reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil while protecting Americans from energy price increases. It would reduce pollution while increasing technological innovation. This legislation is not perfect, but it does provide the comprehensive energy solution our country has been lacking for decades. And I am proud to support it.

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