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STATEMENT FROM REP. ENGEL - ENERGY BILL AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP, MORE STILL MUST BE DONE

Washington, D.C.--The following is a statement from Rep. Eliot Engel regarding his “YES” vote on Friday in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2009. The bill passed by a vote of 219-212.

“I believe the House passed a very important piece of legislation today, a vital first step towards creating millions of clean energy jobs, increasing our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and helping preserve our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Some of the main provisions of the legislation include:

* Moving to a clean energy economy away from foreign oil with new industries and millions of jobs. Between ACES and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 1.7 million new clean energy jobs will be created.
* Requiring electric utilities to meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020;

* Solar energy will increase 20-fold;
* Wind energy will increase more than 500 percent;
* Biomass will increase by more than 350%;
* Geothermal will increase by 50% or more;

* Improving energy-saving standards for buildings and appliances, and energy efficiency in industry; reducing U.S. energy use by about 5% in 2020 – saving more than the annual use of New York State. That number will rise to 12% by 2030.
* Reducing carbon emissions from major U.S. sources by 17% by 2020 and over 80% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels;
* Protecting consumers against energy price increases. The average American household saw their energy costs for electricity and gasoline rise $1,100 under the Bush-Cheney Administration from 2001-07. ACES will have minimal impact on average households, and low income families would receive a $40 net benefit from the legislation by 2020.

“However, while this bill moves us in the right direction, I strongly believe that it does not go nearly far enough. Therefore, I consider this a missed opportunity. In particular, I expected this legislation would include a meaningful Open Fuel Standard. Such a standard would require new cars manufactured or sold in the United States to be flex fuel vehicles capable of burning any combination of gasoline, ethanol or methanol. If ethanol or methanol were available to the American consumer, it would create competition with gasoline leading to a drop in prices at the pump. That’s why it is important for every car manufactured in America be a car which can run on ethanol and methanol, as well as gasoline.

“U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said this week that America’s car manufacturers ought to make all new cars able to run on ethanol-blended fuel. He said, ‘it would only cost $100 out of $15,000 (on a new car). Wouldn’t it be nice to put in those fuel lines and gaskets so that we can use any ratio we wanted?’

“I am particularly displeased how anti-environmental industry worked extensively to edit this bill, which translates into weakened emissions targets and too many giveaways to industry. It also hampers attempts to aggressively reduce emissions by making too many concessions to the fossil fuel industry. This is not the sort of bill I would have written, but it is important to take this initial leap towards a sustainable future.

“Only one year ago, gas prices were over $4 per gallon at the pump and OPEC has used the gas nozzle as a weapon against us. We can envision a future where the next generation of children may look at a gas pump as a quaint relic, like a rotary phone.

“When we passed the Telecom Bill in 1996, America did not have one home with broadband at the time, and just a little more than a decade later the words Google, Amazon, and Yahoo are part of our lexicon. Instead of letting China or India create the next Google, America can lead the way. This bill takes us closer to that goal.

“Brazil has already achieved energy independence. Thirty years ago, Brazil imported 80 percent of its oil and today, thanks to investments in their sugar-based ethanol industry, and an influx of flex-fuel cars, they are independent. If Brazil can do it, the United States can do it.

“ACES has wide-ranging support from business, labor and environmental groups. It is good, if imperfect, legislation. America will be better off as a result of ACES, and I look forward to the Senate passing their version of the measure, so we can continue moving forward, and eventually giving President Obama a clean energy bill to sign into law.”

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