President Bush signed a much - discussed energy bill into law yesterday. The New York Times's John M. Broder reports , "Its passage marks one of the largest single steps on energy that the nation has taken since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970’s." What an indictment of our energy policy! Three decades pass and a modest boost to fuel efficiency standards is this big of a deal?
The final two paragraphs are the most telling in the entire story:
Ms. Pelosi and other supporters of the bill expressed disappointment that it did not include a requirement that utilities produce a growing share of electric power from renewable sources and was stripped of a package of subsidies for wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative energy sources that would have been paid for by higher taxes on oil companies.
“It could have been stronger,” said Senator Barbara Boxer , Democrat of California. “It’s really unfortunate that we didn’t have the renewable electricity standard or the incentives for wind and solar. But we’ll fight for those another day.”
The renewable energy component was a strength of the bill in its earlier versions, and would have given renewable energy providers and developers a welcomed boost. Renewable energy is one of the options for your donation when you offset with Carbonfund.org , but carbon offsets, while growing quickly, are still a small and emerging market. Our national energy policy should also be encouraging renewable energy, and a renewable electricity standard would have created incentives to speed the technological advances and infrastructure development that will make renewable energy cheaper than non-renewable.
With oil reserves running out and global demand spiking, it's only a matter of time until that line is crossed anyway, but anything that can hasten the transition has the potential to prevent billions of tons of greenhouse gasses from ever reaching the atmosphere. Unfortunately, thanks to a watered-down energy bill, we'll have to wait a little longer-- but the luxury of three decades to fritter away is one we no longer have.