U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has introduced S. 3923, the “Let the States Innovate on Sustainable Energy Act of 2010,’’ in order to clarify certain provisions in existing law that might stand in the way of individual states implementing feed-in tariffs in their jurisdictions.
According to Senator Sanders, “At a time when we are working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs, we should be encouraging states and local governments to pursue innovative sustainable energy policies, not stifling their progress."
The bill borrows language from an already-passed provision, Section 102, of HR 2454, the big climate change bill approved by the House of Representatives but not considered by the Senate.
Senator Sanders, an independent senator who caucuses with the Democratic majority in the Senate, is supporting this clarifying language for two reasons, according to an aide. First, from a Vermont-centric perspective, because his state is implementing a 50MW feed-in tariff and he wants it clear that it is entitled to do so. Second, from a national perspective, the senator is a big supporter of renewable energy and he wants to help individual states move ahead in that area.
The bill exists now on a stand-alone basis, but the Senator mostly hopes to get it enacted as an amendment to other energy legislation that may be acted upon during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, in November and December, 2010. Failing that, he is likely to re-introduce it early in the new year in the new Congress, starting in the Energy Committee, of which he is currently a member.
His office has had preliminary discussions with Senator Bingaman’s office about including this provision in the pending RES (Renewable Electricity Standard) legislation sponsored by the New Mexico senator. It’s not likely, though, that that will happen since that bill’s sponsors seem determined to stick exactly to language already approved by the Senate Energy Committee and hence will not allow amendments to their proposed law.
Introduced by Senator Sanders on September 29th, the “Let the States Innovate on Sustainable Energy Act of 2010’’ already has a number of co-sponsors, including Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, his fellow Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
According to his aide, no organized opposition to the bill has yet appeared. Strong support for this legislation, he said, is coming from the FIT Coalition, the Clean Energy Group (based in Montpelier, Vermont), and VPIRG, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.