Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ritter's Energy think tank offer federal energy plan

In last year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama told Congress that if it didn’t act on global climate change, he would. Now, with the next State of the Union message coming up next week, a diverse and influential group of leaders from beyond the Beltway has presented Obama with more than 200 ideas on how he can continue acting on that promise. At a news conference today, former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter released a report delivered to the White House last week, offering scores of ideas on how the Obama administration can move the nation closer to a clean energy economy and reduce America’s carbon emissions over the next three years, using his executive powers. The report, which Ritter called a “comprehensive menu of options” for the President, was developed over eight months with the help of more than 100 CEOs, energy experts, academicians and thought leaders who participated in a series of roundtables last year. Ritter emphasized that not all of the participants agreed with all of the ideas, but the report reflects the recommendations that received the strongest support. Ritter, who founded and directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, briefed members of the President’s Cabinet and senior policy staff at the White House last week. Among those who attended were Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz; Interior Secretary Sally Jewell; Deputy EPA Administrator Robert Perciasepe; the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, John Holdren; Dan Tangherlini, the Administrator of the General Services Administration; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Dan Utech, the President’s top climate advisor. Among its many recommendations, Powering Forward urges the President and his administration to: • Carefully compare the full life-cycle benefits and costs of each energy resource as his national energy policy is implemented. The report points out that additional opportunities exist to distinguish carbon-rich and low-carbon resources consistent with the President’s goals for minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions most responsible for climate change. • Direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to review and improve how it counts “green jobs” and to resume reporting the number of those jobs in the economy. The BLS suspended its reporting on green jobs last year after it was criticized for its methodology. • Direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue clear preliminary guidance to states as early as possible in the regulatory process to encourage early adoption of new energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, and to explain how they will be credited in state implementation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants. • Direct the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to review and if necessary improve its methods for projecting the growth of renewable energy technologies in years ahead. EIA has been criticized for underestimating renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix. • Direct federal agencies to work with the nation’s electric utilities and utility regulators to update regulations that are getting in the way of clean energy technologies. Utility executives told CNEE that outdated regulations are making it difficult to accommodate new energy resources and technologies such as wind energy and rooftop solar systems. “As one utility executive put it, today’s new energy technologies are 10 years ahead of utilities in the United States, and utilities are 10 years ahead of regulations,” Ritter said.