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Clean Economy Policy Update

03/23/2011

The 112th Congress had gotten off to a tumultuous start. Last Thursday, the Senate approved the sixth Continuing Resolution (CR) for fiscal year 2011 that would fund the federal government for another three weeks in order to avoid a shut-down. Republicans, who are pushing adamantly to cut spending, have successfully cut billions of dollars from the CR. These cuts influence key clean economy programs, and it is possible that more are to come.

In particular, Advanced Research Project Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) and DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program are under threat. Additionally, if they are not funded this year, it is highly unlikely that they will be included in the fiscal year 2012 budget. ARPA-E funded 37 high-risk, high-reward clean technology projects in 2009 and 2010 with $400 million, and the Loan Guarantee Program committed $26 billion in loan guarantees to 23 clean energy projects. These programs have attracted billions of dollars in investment and created or saved tens of thousands of jobs.

In addition to cutting clean economy programs, both the House and Senate have been actively debating the EPA’s regulatory authority to enforce the Clean Air Act. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910) by a 34-19 vote on March 15, which included language limiting EPA’s regulatory authority. The measure is expected to easily pass the Republican-controlled House when it comes to a vote in the next few weeks.

Republicans in the Senate then attempted to attach similar language to a small business bill, but that effort has proven unsuccessful thus far. Several other Senators, including Rockefeller (D-WV) and Baucus (D-MT), have offered less sweeping options that may attract more moderate Senators.

Furthermore, Republicans and some Democrats are marketing this legislation as a means by which to combat rising gas prices. Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact recently debunked those claims, clarifying, “there’s no proof that the law would actually stop gas prices from rising. That being said, if gas prices continue to rise, it will encourage Congress to take action on energy policy.

Thank you to our friends at the Clean Economy Network for providing this important information.

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