Sam Brownback to the Rescue?


Renewable energy advocates are making a last-ditch effort to get Majority Leader Harry Reid to include a renewable electricity standard (RES) in the oil-spill and energy bill he’s bringing to the floor this week. And they got a hand today from an unexpected source: Kansas Republican Sam Brownback.

Brownback is better known to progressives for his aggressive pro-life positions and his opposition to manimals. But he voted for the bipartisan energy bill that included a 15-percent-by-2020 RES in committee last year. His home state of Kansas also happens to have quite a bit of wind power to harness.

To be sure, Brownback didn’t let the opportunity to bash cap-and-trade legislation pass. But he was clear in a statement today that an RES should be part of the bill debated this week:

As we begin consideration of comprehensive energy legislation, it’s essential we include ideas that will help drive our national energy production in the direction of more clean, renewable energy. The RES title passed out of the Energy Committee requires by 2020 that 15% of our country’s energy be produced using agreed upon forms of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and biomass. Under this proposal, utilities are allowed to meet up to 4% of the requirement through energy efficiency.

I think it was wise that Senate leadership decided against including any form of cap and tax in the proposal. With unemployment still hovering close to 10%, the American people have no appetite for legislation that would hurt our economy, while doing little to reduce global temperatures. I would argue that most Americans believe that in addressing any challenge, it’s necessary to adopt a balanced, pragmatic strategy. In this case, a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax.

With Brownback is out there rallying for an RES, it will be extra pitiful if Democrats can’t get their act together in support of even a bare-minimum standard.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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