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SENATE REJECTS MORE CLEAN, RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY
Debbie Boger
03/21/2002

 Washington: Instead of choosing a clean, safe and secure energy future,U.S. Senators today adopted a policy that does very little to help America cut its dependence on dirty fossil fuels or improve our nation's energy security. Senators rejected a measure that would increase the amount of electricity produced by clean, renewable sources like wind and solar power, replacing it with an amendment that does little to promote renewable energy.

 Last week, the Senate also rejected higher fuel economy standards for cars, SUVs and other light trucks, which would have saved millions of barrels of oil. The Senate also rejected an amendment by Senator Jim Jeffords (VT-I) that would have increased renewable energy production to 20 percent by 2020, despite studies by the Department of Energy that show this goal to be achievable and affordable. Now, the energy bill has no oil-savings provision, does little to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels or improve our national security.

 "It's time for Congress to scrap this do-nothing energy plan and go back to the drawing board," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "We need a cleaner, safer, and more secure energy plan that keeps our air and environment clean and healthy and improves America's national security. The Sierra Club had hoped Senators would support an energy plan that will truly move us forward into the 21st century --a plan that boosts clean energy and significantly increases the miles-per-gallon standards for our cars and SUVs. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to embrace these sensible energy solutions."

 Senators today rejected a proposal requiring up to 10 percent of America's electricity be produced by renewable sources by 2020, up from the current level of under two percent. Instead, Senators approved a measure introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that would cut this requirement by about a third.

 "With modern technology, we can have clean, renewable energy and a healthy environment," continued Pope. "We are disappointed that our Senators did not show far-reaching vision, but instead voted to keep America dependent on dirty coal-fired power plants and risky nuclear reactors. Relying on fossil fuels, dirty power plants and risky reactors sticks families with pollution, health problems and security concerns. Rather than leading us on a path to cleaner, safer, more secure electricity, the Senate chose to keep us mired in the problems of the past."

 Renewable energy helps to improve our national security because the facilities are not centralized. While a power plant or nuclear reactor offers a site-specific target, a wind farm or solar panels on the roofs of buildings throughout a city reduce that risk.

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