Brownback Calls for Passage of Renewable Energy Standard

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Monday, July 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) announced today his support for including a renewable energy standard in the energy bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to unveil tomorrow.

Brownback, who hails from a wind-rich state, is the first Republican to announce his support for such a proposal, bringing renewable energy advocates closer to the 60 votes necessary for passage. However, it remains unclear whether any renewable energy standard can reach that threshold, despite assertions this morning from former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle that an RES can pass the Senate. Reid, for his part, said this weekend that he does not believe the proposal can get 60 votes.

Brownback is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which passed an RES last summer requiring that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2021. He is calling for that same RES to be incorporated in Reid’s bill, echoing the arguments of renewable energy advocates, who scaled back their ambitions to pass a more stringent RES this morning.

In a statement, Brownback said:

I think it was wise that Senate leadership decided against including any form of cap and tax in the proposal.  With unemployment still hovering close to 10%, the American people have no appetite for legislation that would hurt our economy, while doing little to reduce global temperatures.  I would argue that most Americans believe that in addressing any challenge, it’s necessary to adopt a balanced, pragmatic strategy.  In this case, a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax.

The call for passage of an RES comes as 27 Democrats wrote a letter last week to Reid calling for inclusion of an RES in his energy bill.

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