Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) will introduce legislation Thursday mandating that power companies generate a major portion of the country’s electricity from low-carbon energy sources.
Bingaman has spent months crafting the “clean energy standard” behind closed doors, mulling various scenarios outlined in a report he requested from the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.
But the proposal – one of President Obama’s top energy policy priorities – faces major hurdles in Congress.
Bingaman will announce his clean energy standard Thursday morning at a news conference, a committee spokeswoman said.
Obama outlined a proposal in his 2011 State of the Union address requiring that utilities generate 80 percent of the country’s electricity from low- or no-carbon sources such as nuclear, solar, wind and natural gas by 2035. Obama revived his call for Congress to pass such a standard in this year’s State of the Union.
Bingaman, a longtime proponent of the proposal, has admitted that Congress has little appetite to pass the legislation, amid opposition from Republicans who allege the standard amounts to “picking winners and losers.”
“I think it would be very difficult to get it through both houses,” Bingaman said last year. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t introduce it and talk about it and let people respond to it.”
Though earlier iterations of the standard won some GOP support, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), ranking Republican on Bingaman’s committee, has said she will not support the proposal unless it replaces federal greenhouse gas regulations.