About every two years, when Congress takes up an energy bill, the Big Oil Team and the Clean Energy Team go head to head on the floor of the U.S. Senate -- who will prevail and shape our nation’s energy policy?
The final rosters for the two teams are now coming together, reflecting Senators’ votes on energy and climate legislation. Senators earn their spot on the Big Oil Team by voting to maintain America’s ailing energy policy with its entrenched big government subsidies for oil companies, lax oversight on safety and the environment for oil drilling, leases and permits for risky sources of oil, and appointments of regulators who have cozy relationships with the industry.
Senators get onto the Clean Energy Team by voting for a new energy policy that will move America away from our dangerous dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, and toward cleaner, safer sources of energy like wind, solar, geothermal, and sustainable biomass. This new direction holds the opportunity to make American power the energy technology of the future while creating jobs, strengthening our national security, and improving our environment.
Lobbyists representing the two teams’ sponsors storm the halls of the Congress for months ahead of the votes to sway key players to vote for their side. The Big Oil Team’s sponsors, which include BP and the American Petroleum Institute (API), use their colossal spending power to hire sly K-Street lobbyists who make closed-door deals with lawmakers, sweetened with sizable campaign contributions. Their approximate $200 million annual budget for lobbying and campaign contribution has helped them get enough Senators on the Big Oil Team to kill any serious reform of America’s energy policy for about the past decade.
The Clean Energy Team’s growing coalition of sponsors include businesses, labor unions, veterans’ groups, faith-based organizations, sportsmen and environmentalists who believe in the common imperative to break America’s addiction to oil and cap the pollution that is warming our world. Although they are outspent by their opponents by nearly 8 to 13, the Clean Energy Team has been rising up over the past few years, winning important votes on incentives for efficiency and renewable energy.
Cap on Global Warming Pollution
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and unlock the opportunity of a clean energy economy, America needs to cut global warming pollution as much as possible by 2020 and by over 80 percent by mid-century.
Strong Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)
A Renewable Electricity Standard requires utilities to generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and sustainable biomass. But to really get America on a path to clean energy, the RES needs to be strong enough to enhance what existing state standards are already achieving.
Preserve EPA Authority to Reduce Global Warming Pollution
For 40 years the Clean Air Act has proven to be an effective tool for protecting public health, wildlife, and the environment from harmful pollution while ensuring our economy stays strong. Any clean energy and climate bill must compliment, not supplant the Clean Air Act.
Remove the Liability Cap for Oil Spills
Oil companies must be held fully accountable for any oil spill disasters. This requires removing the liability limits on damages from oil spills and increasing what oil companies pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Reform Leasing Practices On- and Off-Shore
Common sense, science-based reforms of on- and off-shore oil and gas leasing practices must be enacted to ensure our public lands and oceans are protected while responsibly providing for our energy needs.
End Fossil Fuel Subsidies
For too long, Big Oil has enjoyed massive government subsidies. It’s time for Congress to end these giveaways to fossil fuel producers, a move that will encourage energy conservation, improve our energy security, and reduce carbon pollution.
Reduce Oil Dependence Through Clean Transportation
The U.S. consumes more than 20% of the world’s oil, but has less than 2% of global reserves. By investing in clean, American-made transportation solutions we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and boost our economic recovery.
Protect Low-Income Americans from Rising Energy Costs
Through targeted investments, Congress can reduce consumer energy costs through energy efficiency programs and make low-income communities whole through direct consumer rebate programs. Providing workforce training and education in clean energy jobs will spur economic opportunities for generations of Americans to come.
Safeguard Wildlife and Natural Resources from Global Warming
Dedicated investments must be made to ensure that America’s wildlife and critical natural resources are protected from the inevitable impacts of a changing climate, and to restore the Gulf Coast from the catastrophic impacts of the BP oil spill.
Facilitate a Global Solution to the Climate Crisis
The U.S. must do its fair share to secure a strong global climate treaty that will drive emission reductions worldwide to meet the global warming pollution reduction targets scientists say are necessary.
Players to Watch
Twenty four Senators are featured as Players to Watch because of their roles as league leaders or fence sitters. Their play will shape the outcome of the game.
Every couple of years, when Congress takes up an energy bill, the Big Oil Team and the Clean Energy Team go head to head on the floor of the U.S. Senate -- who will prevail and shape our nation’s energy policy?
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