By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Environmental groups are using a national study as fodder for pushing federal legislation that would enact a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.
Citing a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Environment Colorado Wednesday said strict legislation to combat global warming would create jobs and consumer savings.
But skeptics tell the Denver Daily News that the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have little impact on the environment.
The debate will surely continue well through the fall when the Senate is expected to consider the House-approved legislation.
The measure would not only establish a cap and trade system for emissions, but also set tough standards for efficiency, such as enacting renewable energy standards. The so-called Waxman-Markey bill approved in the House would require a renewable portfolio standard of 6 percent in 2012, 9.5 percent in 2014, 13 percent in 2016, 16.5 percent in 2018 and 20 percent in 2021-2039.
“The Senate needs to pass an energy bill that puts Americans back to work repowering our economy,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado. “By passing an energy bill soon, the Senate has the opportunity to put cash in people’s pockets while they put people back to work.”
Report: Jobs would be created
The report states that in Colorado the legislation would create 7,100 new jobs by 2020 in the new energy sector. It would also save Coloradans an average of $158 per household in 2020 thanks to improving energy efficiency.
But skeptics say until other nations start taking up the cause, the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have little impact on global warming.
“It would drive up the cost of every conceivable kind of energy we have — whether it’s to heat your home or run your car — it would destroy jobs, and it would do so all for something that is not going to have any kind of real impact on the environment, not when countries like China and India don’t do anything to restrain emissions,” Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado, told the Denver Daily News in a recent interview.
Opponents are concerned about the impact the legislation might have on traditional energy companies, which would trickle down to employees and the economy.
Gov. Bill Ritter’s administration, however, is positive tougher legislation would have a positive impact on Colorado’s economy and environment.
“Efforts to make our buildings and homes more energy efficient are creating green jobs in Colorado,” said Tom Plant, director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “Increased investment in efficiency would put more Coloradans to work building an energy smart state while saving them money on energy costs.”