Energy Legislation Stall Could Mean Job Loss

Petroleum Institute: House Measure Will Hurt Economy
               By Kevin Lee
         Illinois Statehouse News
   SPRINGFIELD - 9/16/2010 - With November's midterm elections approaching, the ground swell for new energy and climate control legislation may have taken a backseat to national politics.
   The result could be thousands of lost jobs for Illinois, according to a coalition of pro-renewable energy groups.
   Last year,  the U.S. House of Representatives passed  federal legislation that would impose nationwide renewable energy benchmarks, market-imposed caps on emissions and greater investment into new technologies, such as clean coal.
   But the U.S. Senate has stalled on the legislative package, and a consortium of energy and business groups are claiming that inaction could cost the nation for years to come.
   A report jointly released by the consortium indicated that the nation could lose out on 1.9 million jobs over the next decade.
   Six hundred thousand of those lost jobs could originate in 10 states with unemployment rates exceeding 10 percent, including Illinois, which stands to lose 68,000 jobs over that period.
   Climate change and renewable energy became headline issues in the aftermath of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but progress on sweeping energy federal legislation has been put on hold.
   Tim Greeff, policy director for the national consortium Clean Economy Network, said with November's elections approaching, the energy debate has been hijacked by politics.
   "I certainly don't see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue. These issues don't become partisan until they get to (Washington,) D.C. And that's why it's really so unfortunate that it has gotten caught up in the partisan bickering," Greeff said.
   Instead, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said the Senate will spend its fall session working on a sweeping legislative proposal focused on tax cuts and incentives for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
   Chris Van Atten, a spokesman for American Businesses for Clean Energy, said that development of renewable energy sources and job creation go hand-in-hand.
   "Clean coal technology is one that holds promise for job creation in the Midwest region. It may be renewable energy strategies in different parts of the country. But there are certainly opportunities available," he said.
   The American Petroleum Institute claims that the energy legislation passed by the U.S. House threatens the nation's and Illinois' economies.
   "The climate change bill under consideration by Congress ignores the impacts on everyone who uses or produces petroleum fuels like gasoline, diesel and natural gas. So it will hit both households and businesses hard – everyone who uses cars, trucks, planes, trains, and tractors or the thousands of products produced or transported using these fuels," the API said in a statement.
   The U.S. Department of Energy has already targeted Illinois as a major source of carbon retention and storage, a new method of burning coal that would reduce greenhouse emissions.
   Last month, the DOE pledged to commit $1 billion to retrofit an oil-fired power plant in the western Illinois town of Meredosia in what has become the most recent iteration of the FutureGen project.
   Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was in the central Illinois town of Taylorville to discuss another proposed clean-coal project, the Taylorville Energy Plant.
   Durbin outlined his support of efforts for domestically produced energy with the Taylorville plant and FutureGen, though efforts to move forward on both projects have frequently stalled.
   "If you look at the potential for job creation, for providing clean domestic energy and for positioning our state as a world leader in clean energy production – these are truly opportunities Illinois cannot afford to miss," he said.
   But Greeff said Congress will likely wait until after November's elections before engaging in groundbreaking energy debates.
   "It has become an issue that the Democrats and Republicans are trying to stake out positions on instead of moving forward and finding the common ground that's actually good for American business," he said.
  Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News