Broad new coalition urges Congress to pass energy bill now By Chris Madison

The group sent a letter to all members of the Senate, urging them to move quickly with legislation promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and biofuels, including a renewable electricity standard and tax incentives for energy efficiency and biofuels.

The coalition said these policies will add millions of new, American jobs, protect the environment, and make the United States more energy independent and secure.

When asked at a press conference whether the coalition still supported climate change legislation, which until now has been closely tied in Congress with an energy bill, members said they still support a climate change bill. But they also said they were willing to see Congress pass renewable energy and efficiency legislation now and return to climate change at a later date.

“We are making it very clear that we want both” energy and climate change legislation, said American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode.

Another member of the coalition, Kateri Callahan of the Alliance to Save Energy, said, “From our perspective, putting a price on carbon is critical. However there is a lot that can be done short of that. If the Congress can’t find the clear path to tackle [climate change now], we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”

In addition to AWEA and the Alliance to Save Energy, members of the coalition include the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, the Energy Recovery Council, the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Hydropower Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Lisa Jacobson of the Business Council noted that the breadth of the coalition was “unprecedented.”

Those speaking at the press conference, in addition to emphasized the jobs that would be created, noted that legislation is needed now because the United States needs to begin the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, especially in light of the Gulf oil spill.

“All of our hearts go out to the victims of gulf tragedy. This is a teachable moment—a chance to transition to the new energy economy,” said AWEA’s Bode.

By Chris Madison,