When it comes to Congress, all eyes and ears right now are on the Republicans, and their doomed battle to pass the Better Care and Reconciliation healthcare act. While this fracas is going on, however, several other bills have been introduced in the House and Senate – some good, some bad, and one very awful one.
Named the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, this bill is an attempt to reorganize the way American energy is produced, bought and sold. It’s a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).
Right now, in general, the GOP are the pro-fossil fuel party and the Democrats are the pro-clean energy party – unless they’re from states that heavily rely on coal – so you’d expect this bill to be fairly moderate, striking a “balance” between the two. Sadly, no: wind and solar power are not mentioned once, except in passing.
Under the section entitled “Supply,” which explains how America will get its electricity, wind and solar power are noticeably absent. Instead, oil and gas are prominently mentioned. A scheme to mine frozen natural gas reserves from the seafloor – something China and Japan are already doing – is also highlighted.
Only hydroelectric power and geothermal power gets a mention when it comes to renewables. Although both of these are welcome sources of clean energy, their effectiveness at combatting climate change, and their limited geographical range, make them a far less appealing option than wind and solar.
The bill does include a fair bit of text explaining how buildings will be made more energy efficient, and conservation and climate change are mentioned here and there. The two most cost-effective and carbon-neutral energy schemes are at no point given any sort of prominence or even attention. This is madness.
Wind and solar power are proliferating across the world, and the US, at a remarkable rate. They are almost as cheap as fossil fuels and are set to get exponentially more affordable year-on-year. Cities, states, businesses, and governments are investing heavily in these energy sources, and market forces are inexorably moving in their direction.
One recent comprehensive analysis clearly shows the economic and environmental benefits of both. If just 4 percent of the world’s electricity was generated by wind power by 2050, and if 10 percent was generated by solar, 122 billion tonnes of CO2 would be saved, and $12.4 trillion would be generated in revenue, far offsetting the implementation costs.