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E-M:/ Another disappointing Senate vote on renewable energy

Enviro-Mich message from "Megan Owens" <meo@umich.edu>

I hope no one minds all of these updates on the Senate energy debate.
Things are continuing to happen fast and furious in DC that could have
serious impacts on our energy use here in Michigan.  And here's the latest

A very unfortunate series of votes happened last night in the US Senate
which basically ended any serious attempt at increasing the use of renewable
energy in this country.  After several failed attempts to directly remove
the renewable standard of appx 10% that was in the bill, a set of 11
amendments was offered - as a block - and accepted by a voice vote.
Included in those amendments were measures that significantly weaken the
amount of renewable energy use and measures that are clearly not clean
energy.  Unfortunately, these amendments were unexpected and obviously the
result of shady behind-closed-doors negotiations void of any public notice
or input.

One amendment by Senator Bingaman weakens even the modest amount of
renewable energy by 40%, resulting in only the slightest increase over
business as usual.  This changed the bill to offer nearly no benefit.

Also, only truly clean renewable sources, such as solar and wind, should
qualify as renewable energy.  The Bingaman amendmentís multiple definitions
of renewable energy could allow incineration of municipal solid waste, a
leading source of toxic dioxin, mercury and lead emissions into our air and
water, to qualify as renewable.  This dangerous and expensive source of
energy should not count towards a renewable energy standard and certainly
should not be encouraged through taxpayer-funded subsidies.

In addition to allowing burning garbage to count as renewable, the amendment
defines trees less than 12 inches in diameter in Americaís national forests
as biomass fuel.  Some trees may be as old as 90 years when they are 12
inches in diameter. In some national forests, this amendment could provide
an extra incentive to log nearly 15% of the forest as "renewable energy."

America deserves a safe, clean, affordable energy future. Given all the
benefits of pursuing a clean energy path, there is no reason to darken our
skies with pollution by continuing to rely so heavily on dirty fuel sources.
Because the amendment was passed by voice vote, we are unable to applaud
Senators who would have voted against the Bingaman amendment but urge the
Senate to oppose any energy bill that does not significantly increase the
amount of energy generated from clean renewable resources.


               Megan Owens
Field Director               734-662-6597
PIRGIM                    MOwens@pirg.org

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