S.1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, has been approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) by a vote of 11-1. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., will now advance to the full Senate.
‘S.1733 addresses a crucial issue of our time and advancing the bill is a necessary step on the road to garnering the 60 votes we need for a comprehensive bill that will be melded together from various Committees and Senators from different regions of the country,’ said Boxer, chairman of the EPW committee.
‘This bill is already being worked on by Senators Kerry, Lieberman, Graham and others,’ she added.
Among other measures, the bill instructs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a program that will provide grants and other forms of assistance to renewable energy projects in states with renewable portfolio standards (RPS), according to a summary published by Kerry's office.
In addition, the bill includes a 3% overall RPS that will increase to 15% by 2021. Efficiency measures can satisfy up to 26.67% of a utility's RPS requirement – a stipulation that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has criticized. SEIA has also expressed disagreement with the bill's exemption for utilities selling under 4 million MWh annually.
S.1733 also establishes programs for awarding educational grants to train workers in green energy jobs, requires the EPA to set a comprehensive strategy on carbon capture and sequestration and introduces a greenhouse gas reduction program with cap-and-trade provisions.
All seven Republican members of the committee were absent from the vote, in an effort to prevent the bill's passage. Led by Sen. James Ihofe, R-Okla., many Republican senators had called for further study of the bill, stating that its effects on the economy had not been sufficiently studied, Bloomberg reports.
Boxer called Republicans' actions a stalling tactic. ‘We found, after questioning the EPA extensively, that the Republicans' demand for another EPA analysis now would be duplicative and a waste of taxpayer dollars,’ she stated. ‘We are pleased that despite the Republican boycott, we have been able to move the bill.’