Sen. Klobuchar blasts lack of national renewable energy standard

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Energy regulations will be key to congressional efforts to revive the U.S. economy, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said today while also expressing disappointment that the White House has failed to pursue a national renewable energy standard.

“When you start seeing energy as a solution to the economy, then you start looking at it differently,” the Democrat said during an energy efficiency event at the Democratic National Convention sponsored by the Echo Foundation and The Charlotte Observer and The Hill newspapers.

Klobuchar touted her home state’s 2007 renewable energy standard and lamented what she called “missed opportunities” for a similar national program.

“Obviously after 9/11, I think we had an opportunity as a country; the nation was united. I think if leaders had said: ‘This is our moment; we’re going to put forward these energy efficiency standards; we’re going to invest in a comprehensive energy strategy for this country,’ I think 80 percent of people would have said, ‘Fine, sign me up.’ Instead that didn’t happen,” Klobuchar said.

In addition, Klobuchar expressed disappointment that the White House and congressional Democrats opted to pursue cap-and-trade climate legislation, rather than a national or regional renewable energy standard, in 2008 after President Obama’s election

“In retrospect, if we would have known that the economy would remain so fragile, if we would have known about the incredible partisan gridlock in Washington, it probably would have been better, as I wanted to do at the time … to move forward with something even if it was regional,” she said.

While Klobuchar also called for increased focus on the use of biofuels, she did praise oil and gas exploration in North Dakota, where hydraulic fracturing in the Bakken oil shale formation has generated significant job growth.

“It used to be that energy efficiency was Jimmy Carter looking cold on TV and saying that we had to do conservation and sacrifice. I don’t think people see it like this — especially the younger generation — anymore. They see it as a positive, as a way to move our country forward,” said Klobuchar, who is expected to win a second Senate term in November.

Retired four-star Gen. Wesley Clark, who sits on the board of ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy, also appeared at the forum today.

In remarks in which he repeatedly called for a national economic strategy, Clark also railed against fossil fuel production, including natural gas producers.

“Out there on the horizon is a really significant challenge of global warming and climate change,” Clark said. “It’s a national security challenge. It’s a huge economic challenge. It runs the gamut from disease to agriculture, rising insurance costs, displacements of populations to conflict, war, struggle and political strife across the globe.”

Clark, a Democratic presidential primary contender in 2004, later said, “Instead of building a defense industry, we’re going to focus on energy. We’re going to make America the most energy-rich country in the world because we’ve got those resources in sun and wind.”

He added, “We’re going to make America the most energy-efficiency-conscious country in the world. And we’re going to lead the world in moving from the 20th-century reliance on petroleum into the 21st-century reliance on sun and wind and smart building techniques.”