Renewable energy pushing forward in Capitol Hill

Posted by Eric Levenson on March 2, 2019 · Leave a Comment

No group on Earth is immune from the negative effects of climate change, and no issue is more critical than cleaning up America’s energy system.

Friday, the U.S. House passed legislation that will not only be a bold move on climate, but in the long term will move the country to more sustainable policies. The bipartisan American Solutions for Energy & Economy (ASEE) Act was passed by a vote of 419-1 and will prioritize clean renewable energy sources to meet the Department of Energy’s call for 14 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Co-sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the act aims to decrease the dependence on oil, gas and coal, which represent approximately 85 percent of the country’s energy use.

Implementing a comprehensive energy strategy that clearly targets carbon emissions has proven to be a challenging task at best. Consequently, a committee report introduced alongside the act, covering 12 separate pages, is an important attempt to clearly outline ASEE’s 13 principles of energy and become a detailed action plan of sorts for the energy consumption of every American.

The House bill’s goals, according to the report, are to “increase energy security, energy independence, economic growth, and environmental health while safeguarding our air, water, and wildlife while saving money for American families and businesses.”

This American Solutions Act, which was first introduced on Feb. 14, details in detail its goals regarding carbon emissions that include decommissioning 32 million barrels of oil-producing oil wells, promoting wind, solar and fuel-efficient vehicles, a revamp of the infrastructure of our roadways and improve energy efficiency.

Though the price of petroleum will be the main area of increase as new energy sources emerge, the resolution anticipates that a variety of other energy innovations will be competitive with petroleum over the next 50 years.

Through American Solutions for Energy & Economy, members of Congress are sent an annual report that urges them to pass policies that will help reduce carbon emissions from 12.2 billion tons per year, which is the highest in history.

The solar industry represents an amazing opportunity to achieve these sustainable energy goals. With over 200 million people currently in access to clean solar power in the U.S., the situation is hardly bleak. There is no viable alternative to the sun when it comes to producing energy.

According to Solar Foundation, the United States ranks first in solar installed capacity in the world. As of Dec. 2018, there were 5,761 megawatts of solar power installations in the U.S. alone, over double the 3,328 megawatts installed in 2014.

Other services and products made from renewable energy are also worth investing in. Conventional lighting can be a significant energy producer with over 40 percent of power created by indirect energy use. Smart Global Products reported that “(r)ather than using energy to transform light into light, solar panels convert sunlight directly into energy.”

This type of light can be effectively used to replace the roughly 75 million metric tons of wood heat used annually by U.S. businesses. It is estimated that 27 percent of the U.S. import bill is for wood which is rendered into usable fuels.

Eventually, light bulbs, door knockers, washing machines and fans can be replaced with light emitting diodes (LEDs), which have the capacity to emit, literally, the same amount of light as a battery pack.

There are several risks that come with decreasing fossil fuel consumption, such as increased CO2 emissions, but even if renewable energy is met as a percentage of current energy use, climate change will still be a concern.

With an energy strategy including objectives such as increasing clean energy, reducing vehicle emissions, developing clean transportation technology and investing in renewable energy, the American Solutions Act can best be considered as a great step toward a sustainable future.

Eric Levenson is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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