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‘Green Bank’ Proposal Gaining Traction on the Hill

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, penned an op-ed in Politico today in which he called for passage of legislation setting up a so-called “green bank” that would finance the development of clean energy technology.

Provisions setting up the so-called Clean Energy Deployment Administration, or CEDA, were included in the broad energy legislation passed by Bingaman’s committee last summer. But, Bingaman acknowledged in the op-ed, it is highly unlikely that the bill can pass this year. Instead, Bingaman calls for passage of legislation establishing CEDA.

According to Bingaman:

This bipartisan proposal for a Clean Energy Deployment Administration was designed to accelerate the technology revolution we need. CEDA would help move a wide range of clean energy technologies from laboratory to marketplace, combining the technological expertise of the Department of Energy with a new, independently overseen cadre of business professionals who can craft the financial support that entrepreneurs need to negotiate the “valley of death” where new technologies languish for lack of investment support.

CEDA would have a broad mandate to identify, on a continuing basis, technologies with the best potential to deliver sustainable energy with the most efficient use of federal dollars.

A broad comprehensive energy bill may not be possible in this Congress. But action on common-sense bipartisan proposals like CEDA should not be put off. If we want to realize the energy security, environmental security and economic benefits of the clean energy revolution, then the investments we need in clean energy technology deployment cannot wait.

Look for CEDA to become a major topic of discussion in the coming weeks on the Hill. Bingaman rarely throws his support behind a proposal unless he knows that it has a chance of passage. And with the fate of energy legislation, even a scaled-back version that focuses on efficiency and vehicles, up in the air, CEDA could be environmentalists’ only hope for a legislative victory this year.

The op-ed comes as Bill Wicker, Bingaman’s spokesman, told reporters Friday that “news will be made” at a press conference tomorrow.

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