EPA Sees Limited Renewable Energy Growth under Waxman-Markey
President Obama says the greenhouse-gas emissions cutting Waxman-Markey bill before Congress will "spark a clean energy transformation." But a new analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency casts doubt on that claim.
According to the analysis, published Tuesday, the legislation, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, would actually result in slightly less new renewable energy generation capacity by the year 2020 than if the U.S. continued on a business-as-usual path with no emissions caps. The reason for this, the EPA says, is twofold.
First, the bill's efficiency measures — such as those that requiring more efficient buildings and appliances - would reduce overall electricity demand "significantly." Less demand means less need for new generation, including power from the wind, sun and biomass.
The bill also won't sufficiently drive up the price of dirty fossil fuels to encourage a big switch to renewables, the analysis says. (Here's how that sounds in untranslated EPA-speak: "Allowances prices are not high enough to drive a significant amount of additional low or zero-carbon energy . . . in the shorter term.")
This isn't quite consistent with White House talking points. On Tuesday, President Obama told reporters that the legislation before the House of Representatives "will create a set of incentives that will spur the development of new sources of energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal power," incentives that "will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy."