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Virginia Businesses Weigh In For “New Competitive Energy Economy” [UPDATED]

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The following press release is from the Commonwealth Business Council for a Competitive Economy, a recently formed group which “unites businesses large and small from across Virginia who support the transition to a clean economy both here and nationally.”  The director of CBCCE is Mame Reiley, a DNC “superdelegate” and former director of Mark Warner’s “One Virginia” PAC.  

With regard to the clean energy and climate bill introduced earlier today (full text here), Reiley says, “This is a unique opportunity for Congress to pass legislation that will reduce our dependence on oil, decrease carbon emissions and promote a new competitive energy economy. Its impact will be felt for generations to come.”  Increasingly, despite reams of disinformation put out there by the fossil fuel industries and their allies, this is a view that is shared by the business community and by the American people. Now, if we could just convince a few Republicans to remove their heads from the sand on this crucial issue…

LANDMARK ENERGY & CLIMATE LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN U.S. SENATE TODAY

Signals Critical Progress & Major Gains for Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia – Today, a comprehensive energy and climate legislation was introduced, reflecting months of hard work from Senators John Kerry (D- MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). The American Power Act is a major step forward that would reduce United States’ dependence on oil and move our country toward a cleaner, more secure energy economy.  

This legislation was introduced on the heels of a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid and the U.S. Senate last week, signed by 175 business leaders around the country.  The letter called on the Senate to get comprehensive energy and climate legislation back on track in order to spur a new energy economy, boost energy independence and decrease carbon emissions.  

“The tragic and catastrophic Gulf Coast oil spill demonstrates the urgency for our country to accelerate its transition to a clean energy economy,” said Commonwealth Business Council for a Competitive Economy (CBCCE) member Robert Nealon.

“China is spending 12.4 million dollars every hour on clean energy technology. Until the U.S. creates market certainty for these technologies by putting a price on carbon, China will continue gaining the competitive advantage by researching, developing and owning technologies we will all soon utilize,” said CBCCE member Nealon, owner of Nealon & Associates and Chair of the Virginia Small Business Advisory Board. “The legislation introduced today gives businesses and workers in the U.S. and Virginia a fighting chance to compete in a trillion dollar clean energy economy.”

UPDATE: Here’s what people are saying about the clean energy/climate bill.

“To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. And this year I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.”

President Barack Obama

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“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for a plan that recognizes the economic and national security threat of our ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil, particularly OPEC oil.  Achieving energy security is not easy and I applaud their focus on a broad energy package that includes replacing foreign oil/diesel/gasoline with cleaner, abundant domestic natural gas in America’s heavy duty fleets.  I look forward to working with them in the coming weeks to focus attention on that aspect of their legislation. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel is a non-partisan issue.  The time to act is now.”

T. Boone Pickens

Energy expert and creator of the Pickens Plan

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“Passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation will allow the U.S. to be a worldwide leader in the next great global industry, green technologies. This pragmatic framework is crucial to the success of American entrepreneurship and will ensure a cleaner, stronger and more secure future for us all.”

John Doerr

Partner at venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers  

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“In order for the U.S. to compete in this global economy, there needs to be a price on carbon. A price on carbon will level the playing field and give businesses the certainty they need to invest in the new energy economy.”

Ralph Izzo

Chairman, President and CEO of PSEG

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“This framework puts America on a clear pathway to create a vibrant, innovative clean energy economy to lead the next great global industrial revolution. NRG’s planned construction of new nuclear generation would employ 6,000 workers and drive billions of dollars in additional American business spend. When this bill becomes law, it will call forth thousands more clean energy projects, right here at home.”

David Crane

President and CEO of NRG Energy, Inc.  

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“The catastrophic event in the Gulf Coast is a tragedy that serves as a reminder that we need to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy. This framework will allow companies to continue to develop and bring to scale innovative, low carbon technologies to ensure our country’s energy security.”  

Jonathan Wolfson

CEO and co-founder of Solazyme, Inc.

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“Comprehensive energy and climate policy that includes a clear market based price signal for carbon that rewards innovation is key for companies across the country to accelerate our transition to a sustainable clean energy infrastructure and market. The leadership of these Senators is critical to our success in bringing to bear investments in new technologies that will create new American jobs.”  

Martin Lagod

Managing Director and co-Founder of Firelake Capital Management LLC.

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“The substantive structure provided by Senators Kerry and Lieberman will allow the US Senate to begin the discussion around a long term energy policy – one that strengthens our country by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating new American jobs, and supporting energy intensive industries in a smooth transition to the clean energy economy of the future.”

Jack Oswald

CEO of SynGest Inc.

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“We cannot afford further delay in adopting a national policy that addresses our many energy-related challenges. We call on members of Congress to work together constructively across the aisle to pass this prudent and carefully balanced legislation this year. There have been few instances in our nation’s history when legislators have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy– to have the appendage ‘statesman’ added to their names by appreciative future generations. This is one of those rare occasions.”  

Rob Sisson

President, Republicans for Environmental Protection

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“I am proud of what my Senator from Massachusetts is doing today. This legislation holds one of the keys to meaningfully accelerate the transition to clean energy solutions for transportation and the grid, which will increase our energy security and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. From the perspective of a leading U.S.-based advanced battery company that is creating thousands of new U.S. jobs for the 21st Century, this legislation points the way to put America back in control of its energy future.  All those who understand this imperative need to let their voices be heard now in support of Senator Kerry’s and Lieberman’s tireless efforts.”

David Vieau

President and CEO, A123Systems

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“The American Power Act is essential to strengthening our national security. Military leaders of every stripe have confirmed that America’s dependence on hostile nations for oil puts money in the pockets of our most dangerous enemies. This tri-partisan bill will defund terror and make the world a safer place for our troops. America’s military leadership – at the Defense Department, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Council – have all identified climate change and oil dependence as security threats. Now is the time for politicians in Washington to follow their lead.”

Statement from Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations

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“Exelon commends Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership in crafting federal climate legislation to address the nation’s energy security, jobs and environmental goals. We are pleased that the draft bill announced today by Senators Kerry and Lieberman proposes a system for putting a price on carbon, which will use market forces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost, as well as a firm price collar to protect consumers. As the nation’s largest nuclear operator, Exelon also appreciates that the senators have recognized nuclear power as a low-emission source of baseload electricity with an important role to play in the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”  

John W. Rowe

Chairman & CEO, Exelon

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“The ‘American Power Act’ represents an important step toward a strong national energy policy, and GE applauds Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership on an issue that is critical to the future of our nation and our economy.   National energy policy must drive the accelerated deployment of new technologies in the United States if America is to compete and win in the global race for clean energy technology leadership.  China and Europe have already enacted robust clean energy policies that are powering technology investment and job creation. It’s time for America to do the same. GE supports the process Senator Kerry and Lieberman have initiated today. We stand ready to work with them and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle on the substance and details of final legislation.”

Statement from General Electric

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“National policy – including an effective price on carbon and a strong, nationwide clean energy standard – is needed to drive increased investment, which in turn creates new technologies and jobs.”

Jeff Immelt

Chairman and CEO, General Electric

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“Today’s action by Senators John Kerry (Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) jumpstarts the Senate debate over America’s energy future.  Their unwavering leadership has been critical to the progress made thus far.   Every day the Senate fails to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation we put our economy, our national security and our environment at greater risk.  Inaction is too costly, and the challenge is too urgent.  The Gulf Coast oil catastrophe is yet another reminder that the United States must reduce its dependence on oil to protect our security, economy and environment.  The millions of Americans we represent demand a Senate vote on comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.  President Obama and leaders of both parties in Congress must provide the leadership necessary to develop a clean energy and climate solution that becomes law this year.”

Statement from Alliance for Climate Protection, Audubon, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Climate Solutions, Defenders of Wildlife, ENE (Environment Northeast), Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Fresh Energy, Green For All, League of Conservation Voters, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oxfam America, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Wilderness Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund

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“The nuclear-related provisions of this legislation provide a solid platform for the expansion of nuclear energy to meet our electricity needs, create thousands of jobs and help achieve the desired reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. All mainstream analyses of the climate change issue show that reducing carbon emissions will require a portfolio of technologies, that nuclear energy must be part of the portfolio, and that major expansion of nuclear energy is essential. I applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their collaborative work on this legislation and for seeking input from a variety of interested parties to craft this proposal. While he is not a part of today’s announcement, Senator Graham’s committed work to advance this issue cannot be overlooked and we thank him for his efforts. We believe there is solid consensus on the need for, and the value of, the nuclear energy provisions in this proposal.”

Marvin Fertel

President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute

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“If businesses have a clear price signal, they will respond by creating innovative new solutions to our climate and energy problems.  I applaud the effort to put a price on carbon this year.  It is time for our country to be a leader in the new, low-carbon economy.”

Jeffrey Swartz

President and CEO, The Timberland Company

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“Smart, bold and comprehensive climate and energy legislation will reduce our dependence on oil, increase our nation’s security and create jobs. What’s more, it will ensure that we remain competitive in the clean technology revolution taking place around the world. We must not miss this opportunity to help unlock a clean and prosperous future for America.”

Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director, The Climate Group

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“Nike has long advocated for Congress to pass a comprehensive climate and energy policy because we believe it’s a pathway to environmental progress, economic growth and stimulating innovation. Business needs certainty and a level playing field to help spur green jobs and unlock innovation essential to creating technology and infrastructure solutions for a sustainable future.  We applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership and introduction of this important legislation and stand ready to support along with our BICEP coalition members.”

Hannah Jones

Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation, Nike

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“Operation Free is very encouraged by today’s announcement. Our massive transfer of wealth to gulf nations to pay for oil is a destabilizing force, enriching some of our most dangerous enemies there and around the world. Taking a strong stance on carbon pollution could deprive Iran, one of the world’s most aggressive and unpredictable nations, of up to $100 million a day. Given their record of hostility to us and our allies, we can’t afford to allow them even one more dime.”

Jonathan Murray

Operation Free Campaign Director and former US Marine

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“Many in the national security community are standing squarely behind this legislation because the connection between our safety and energy could not be more clear. Controlling our energy future means a safer America, a stronger military, and a robust and growing economy here at home. America can and must lead by example in this, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.”

Jonathan Powers

COO of the Truman National Security Project

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“This isn’t an environmental issue, this is a security issue. Our strategic interests, and therefore our national security and the safety of Americans, are threatened by climate change and our continuing dependence on oil. Military leaders know this isn’t about polar bears and ice caps, it’s about international stability and national security.”

Lt. General John G. Castellaw

US Army, Retired

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“We make a profound strategic error if we underestimate the impact that climate has on regional and international stability. Some of our most worrisome trouble spots around the world are dangerous because of a combination of climate problems and social unrest – Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are strong examples. Congress must pass this legislation to make the world a safer place.”  

Major General Paul Monroe

US Army, Retired

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“By opting for renewable energy over fossil-based sources, customers currently have the power to reduce their carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment. We look forward to continuing to work with Senators Kerry and Lieberman to ensure that this bill preserves the ability of individuals, companies, and government agencies to make meaningful choices about their electricity supply.”

Jay Carlis

President, the Renewable Energy Markets Association

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“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for their leadership in introducing meaningful climate change legislation, and, in doing so, helping the United States take a major step forward in solving the biggest challenge of our time. With vital assistance from Senator Graham, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have provided the Senate with an excellent proposal for a comprehensive legislative package that will reduce our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy supports the bill’s market-based approach, which will put a price on carbon dioxide. This is the most effective and efficient way of achieving reduction of greenhouse gasses and spurring innovation and investment into new carbon-reducing technologies.”

J. Wayne Leonard

Chairman and CEO, Entergy Corporation

UPDATE #2: Reactions from Virginians, courtesy of Repower America.

Matt Carlson, McLean, VA

“America is losing to China in the global clean energy race. This Senate proposal can help us make the critical investments in the clean energy technologies that will help America lead in the 21st century” said Matt Carlson, CEO of Sunnovations Inc. of McLean, VA. “Businesses in Virginia are poised to rapidly grow and build the clean energy economy but need clarity and certainty about the rules everyone will be playing by; this proposal is an important step forward as we make the transition to clean energy produced in America.”

Delegate Charniele Herring, Alexandria, VA

“The time for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is long overdue.  The tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico punctuates the need for renewable energy that will create jobs, reduce pollution and end our dangerous reliance on fossil fuels.  I applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for tacking this issue and look forward to the day when American can sustain herself on clean, renewable energy,” said Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria, VA.

Lester Hancock, Dublin, VA

“As a tragedy unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico, the need for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation has never been more urgent. When we invest in clean energy here in America, we’ll open vast new opportunities for American businesses and create millions of new jobs. This Senate proposal is an important step in the right direction” said Lester Hancock, President of UAW Local 2069, Dublin, VA.

Jon Bruneau, Charlottesville, VA

“I’m happy our country is moving forward with a comprehensive clean energy plan and hope Senators Warner and Webb will support this bill.  As an mechanical engineer who works with energy efficiency and sustainable design I know that clean energy solutions already exist and are being applied every day” said Jon Bruneau, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Mechanical Engineer, Charlottesville, VA.

Kent Baake, Alexandria, VA

“The ongoing economic and environmental tragedy on the Gulf Coast should make us all pause and reconsider the true costs of our fossil fuel use.  Our congress can set a course for a bright economic future if our priorities are placed in alternative energy research and implementation.  Our economy will be more stable and our environment cleaner with local sustainable clean energy industry jobs” said Kent Baake, Owner, Continuum Solar and Continuum Energy Solutions, Alexandria, VA.

Gene Magruder, Newport News, VA

“The devastation we see in the Gulf of Mexico is a clear sign that we need to end our reliance on oil. When we tap into America’s vast clean energy resources, we can revive our manufacturing economy and create millions of new jobs. This Senate proposal is an important step toward meeting this urgent goal” said Gene Magruder, USW Local 8888 in Newport News.

UPDATE #3: Click here for an editorial by Sen. Donald McEachin and Del. Adam Ebbin on this legislation. Here’s the conclusion:

We are encouraged by the bipartisan effort under way in Washington. Although these are contentious times, we can all agree on the importance of safeguarding the futures of our children and grandchildren. Climate change legislation will protect their future, stimulate our economy, create the jobs we need, protect our national security — and help clean our air. We urge our representatives in Washington to join the efforts to pass energy and climate legislation now