Energy Bill Can't Afford to Wait, Says Oil State Senator Begich (D-AK)

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With eighty wildfires raging across Alaska due to hot dry weather, lightning and erratic winds and smoke from the fires spreading across the state – but there is no climate change, oh no, it’s never climate change; it’s always going to be “unprecedented” – Senator Begich(D-AK) made some comments in favor of moving forward on the American Power Act, over the Memorial Day recess.


He told Alaska public radio listeners that he was one of those pressing for energy to be considered as soon as congress returns after the Memorial Day break. (It actually couldn’t have been be considered till late June, anyway, after the CBO and the EPA have finished the six week review of the bill which was sent to them May 13th) and had positive words for the new bill. Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

Some deals that Begich liked in the bill were higher revenue sharing for states that get oil money, a partial nationalization of oil revenue, which works well to keep Norway’s North Sea Oil exploration more careful than ours. Alaska already relies on oil money to fund government services. Begich gushed that this climate bill will lead to “billions” for Alaska.

But he also liked the push to incentivize renewable energy. He clearly favors a Renewable Energy Standard, but in the next breath revealed why it needs to customized for each state, as it is now.

He is hopeful that South Western Alaskan hydro power could be developed.

However, some states do, and some do not include any size hydro power as renewable (among the states that have Renewable Energy Standards). The old style of huge dams – no longer possible anyway, in today’s era of bathtub-sized government – have effects on the environment. New micro-hydro is allowed in state standards, but again, each state allows different amounts. California’s maxes out at 30 MW of micro-hydro, but Vermont allows up to 200 MW systems.

Alaska has abundant hydro resources, but states on the drought side of the nation also have another reason to not count hydro in an RES. The Southwest will have less water from snow melt in future decades so hydro is discounted because of a newly “unrenewable” aspect. But, in the regions likely to see increased precipitation, new forms of clean hydro-power is included in renewable energy standards. Oklahoma included hydro in their brand new RES. Every state has different standards because of the differences in future regional climates.

Begich is a supporter for a RES. In the show, he mentioned the Bingaman bill (that does include a national RES) and the Dorgan bill as two that he likes, that will likely be morphed into the final version.

The Collins-Snowe CLEAR act (cap and dividend) has already been “morphed into” the climate bill. About 82% of the proceeds from the carbon pollution-limiting cap in APA go to consumers, and the trade is limited to just the 7,500 covered polluters, eliminating Wall Street from trading; two items that came from the Collins-Snowe CLEAR Act.

With even an oil state Senator on board, this gives new impetus to our last chance to curb climate change:  the American Power Act.

Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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