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Senate Considers Renewable Energy Resources - 2002-02-27


The U.S. Senate is considering a measure that would require the country to gradually increase the amount of electricity produced by renewable resources, including the sun and wind. The goal is to make the United Sates less dependent on volatile foreign oil markets.

Both the Bush administration and Congress are looking for ways to wean the United States from foreign oil and to produce more energy, more efficiently, and with less pollution.

One measure, introduced in the Senate by Independent Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, would mandate that by 2020, 20 percent of U.S. electricity production would come from renewable resources, such as the sun and wind. "Here and now," he said, "renewable energy production is both technologically and economically feasible. The result will be a better environment, creation of new jobs, reduced volatility in the electricity markets, and more secure domestic energy."

Mr. Jeffords said the United States faces a crisis of what he calls "an outdated reliance" on fuels that pollute, threaten the health of children and senior citizens, and keep the country dependent on foreign imports. Senator Jeffords said, "Domestically produced renewable energy such as wind, solar, and vegetable matter can supply us with a sustainable supply of clean, reliable energy at a cost comparable to our current energy prices."

Mr. Jeffords, who has introduced his plan as an amendment to the energy bill now making its way through Congress, believes many Americans will benefit. He said it will create more than $85 billion in new investment, property tax revenues, and rent payments to farmers and landowners. And he said consumers can save billions of dollars in energy costs.

Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada is taking another approach to promoting alternatives to imported fossil fuels. He is proposing permanent tax credits to businesses that invest in renewable energy. "Renewable energy, unlike oil, is something America has in abundance," he said. "Our nation may only possess three percent of the world's oil reserves, but we're blessed with tremendous geothermal resources and a climate ripe for the development of solar and wind power."

The Bush administration supports renewable resources as part of a multi-faceted energy plan. But the White House said the technology is not ready. A White House spokesman said the amount of land needed for enough solar panels and wind generators for a sufficient energy supply is too great.

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