Time to bone up on the next (maybe) green-tech legislation

The Senate has finally put forth its energy and cleantech legisation. Now, let's move forward.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Anyone with a vested interested in client tech, green technology or alternative energy -- actually anyone who pays federal taxes -- should acquaint themselves with the new American Power Act, which has just been put forth for debate in the U.S. Senate after roughly eight months of delicate and heated (no pun intended) negotiations.

One of the bill's sponsors, Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., hopes for nothing less than for the legislation to":

"... transform our economy, set us on the path toward energy independence and improve the quality of the air we breathe. It will create millions of good jobs that cannot be shipped abroad and it will launch America into a position of leadership in the global clean energy economy."

The bill's other chief backer is John Lieberman, I-Conn.

So here's the big number: The bill calls for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by the year 2020, just 10 years from now. It calls for the country to cut emissions by up to 80 percent against 2005 levels by 2050. At the same time, the American Power Act sets aside aid to fund alternative transportation methods, including electric vehicle infrastructure, coal sequestration research and development and grants that supposedly promote green careers.

The Time magazine coverage of the bill makes a big deal out of the fact that this is probably the last chance for cap and trade to move forward. Cap and trade, which I have never fully understood, takes a more flexible approach to how organizations meet emissions and pollution reduction targets.

The more notable provision, given the tragedy still happening in the Gulf of Mexico and given the fact that another rig sank overnight near Venezuela, is the fact that the bill still allows for new offshore oil and gas drilling, although states can veto projects that are within 75 miles of their own shore. AND, states will actually get to keep some of the money from the development, which is different from today: all money goes to the feds under the current system.

Generally speaking, what's notable about this legislation is that it was worked out with the participation of both environmentalists (of the moderate, centrist sort) and energy industry executives (albeit those of the more progressive sort). I'm not normally very political in this blog, but it's time to get this thing passed and for our country to stop talking about reforming the way we power our lives and actually start reforming.

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