Clean Energy Standard Act should prioritize moving towards renewable energy sources

Mar 1, 2012

A plan for our nation’s energy future was rolled out today by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). The proposed legislation, the Clean Energy Standard Act, focuses on reducing carbon emissions, but falls short of moving America away from fossil fuel based sources. The Wilderness Society supports efforts to prioritize fuels that are as green as they are clean – and that means harnessing the power of the sun and wind and heat of the earth, not adding to the enormous market distortions in favor of incumbent fossil energy sources.

The following statement can be attributed to Chase Huntley, Clean Energy Policy Director, The Wilderness Society:

“In today’s political climate of inaction, it is great to see leadership again from Senator Bingaman. Our nation’s energy future should be a bipartisan issue that balances national security and much needed jobs with conservation, clean air, clean water and long term solutions. Improving the Senator’s plan should be the focus of continued conversation on this issue so that we prioritize truly clean energy sources.

Creating energy by burning fossil fuels is something we already know how to do.  The problem is eliminating outdated wasteful government incentives for the robust fossil fuel industry, not adding new ones.  For example, natural gas already contributes about 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, natural gas is at best only 50% cleaner than coal. And committing to “clean coal” relies on unproven technologies that will only capture a portion of the harmful air pollutants unlocked into the atmosphere when coal burns.

The Wilderness Society strongly prefers an approach which focuses on new renewable energy and does not include the mature or non-renewable sources already providing the bulk of the nation’s power. Our nation’s energy portfolio should prioritize:

  • Expanding market opportunities that result in meaningful increases of responsibly-sited energy resources that are truly renewable, like wind, solar and geothermal.


  • Energy efficiency and energy saving measures- saving energy saves lands.


  • Providing incentives for the reuse of brownfields and degraded lands to reduce pressure on undisturbed lands.



  • Ensuring that the renewable promise of biomass is realized sustainably and responsibly by protecting conservation lands and accurately accounting for both the positive and negative greenhouse gas effects of bioenergy.


  • Planning efforts that result in finding smart places with low environmental and cultural conflicts to build needed renewable energy projects.

The future of this proposed energy plan lies in the hands of a committee who has the opportunity to adopt strategies that move our country forward and towards energy independence, or they can continue down current path of high polluting and less stable energy sources. America is calling for leadership like that of Sen. Bingaman, and we urge the Congress to roll up their sleeves and have a healthy scientific debate about the nation’s energy future.”