Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Missouri Legislators Introducing Renewable Energy Standard

From the Joplin Independent, good news on the home front: two Democratic legislators are introducing a Renewable Energy Standard bill.
Today Senator Chuck Graham, D-19 and Representative Jenee' Lowe D-44, join a broad based Coalition of Environmental, Conservation and Health Organizations as well as Labor Unions and Faith Groups to support Renewable Energy Standards Legislation, RES.

“We are united in a common goal to protect the environment while keeping and creating jobs, and a more secure energy future,” explained Representative Jenee' Lowe. The introduction of the companion bills, SB 843 and HB 1384 will establish minimum requirements for all retail sellers of electricity to supply a certain amount of their power from renewable energy sources. The percentage requirement would grow from 1% in 2008 to 10% in 2020.

"Legislation like this will slowly but surely help our state and country become less dependent on foreign oil and energy sources," Sen. Graham said. "Increasing the amount of energy that comes from renewable energy sources is critical for our economic and national security." Missouri imports nearly all of the fuel to produce electricity; billions of dollars exit the state annually. A RES would provide the impetus for the development of Missouri’s renewable resources and keep more energy dollars working within the local communities, creating new job opportunities....

“Support for renewable energy in Missouri is enjoying bi-partisan, statewide support. We have 30 co-sponsors and 20 statewide organizations representing rural communities and cities who understand this is the future,” explains Carla Klein, Chapter Director for the Missouri Sierra Club. This new coalition effort is designed to promote a positive future in which economic growth goes hand-in-hand with safeguarding our air, water and land. “We believe through the use of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies we can create new secure manufacturing jobs in Missouri,” added Emil Ramirez, Sub-District Director United Steelworkers, District 11.
While I'm glad to see such legislation on the table, I'm not entirely optimistic at this point: the legislature is controlled by Republicans, and I don't see any of them speaking out in favor of the RES (at least not in this brief article). Perhaps this will at least get legislators talking about lesser measures (like tax incentives for residential renewable energy systems or a genuine net metering law) that would bring us in line with the majority of other states. I'm very glad to see supporters addressing the economic potential -- that could at least bring some moderate Republicans on board. Perhaps even the right-wingers (and there are many of them) will have to respond to political pressure from home... Or, perhaps I'm dreaming...

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