Murkowski sees ‘no real consensus’ on CES, blames Obama for inaction

Source: Phil Taylor • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012

The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she sees a bumpy road for passing a clean energy standard this session.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also blamed the president for failing to actively promote his proposal to generate up to 80 percent of the country’s electricity from low-carbon sources by 2035, despite calling for it in his past two State of the Union speeches.

“There is no real consensus as of this point in time on how to move forward,” Murkowski said on Platts Energy Week. “From the administration, we really haven’t seen much of anything other than two mentions now in two consecutive State of the Unions.”

Her statement comes weeks before committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is expected to introduce a clean energy bill, a proposal he has acknowledged will face tough resistance in Congress.

Murkowski said past attempts to push a clean energy standard “did fall flat” partly because the president sat on the sidelines after introducing the plan in last year’s speech. The White House never sent language to lawmakers, a Murkowski spokesman said last week.

In addition, stakeholders have expressed a broad range of ideas — but no clear consensus — on a clean energy white paper Bingaman and Murkowski unveiled last March, she said.

The president spotlighted clean energy in last week’s address to Congress, pointing to a Defense Department plan to purchase a gigawatt of renewables and Interior Department plans to permit 10 gigawatts of wind, solar and geothermal on public lands by the end of the year (E&E Daily, Jan. 25)

In addition, he called on Congress to extend soon-to-expire clean energy tax credits and “set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation.”

“I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy,” Obama said. “I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century.”

Bingaman worked for most of 2011 to craft a CES bill after earlier attempts to implement a stricter renewable-only electricity standard were dashed.

Bingaman, who is set to retire at the end of the session, has rallied behind the idea of a broader energy standard that would include energy sources like natural gas, nuclear power or coal with carbon capture and storage.