November 16, 2010
The Hill’s E2 reports this morning that the Coalition for Green Capital headed by former Clinton Administration official Reed Hundt will outline a “broad blueprint” today for post-cap-and-trade energy policy, which includes a clean energy standard that “would allow non-renewable low-carbon sources, like new nuclear power plants, to qualify.”
The Hill quotes a coalition spokesman Bracken Hendricks saying: “We talk about the possibility that we could allow more of a clean energy standard on a state-by-state basis, and in exchange for that you would have a higher bar. We feel that some level of regional flexibility in the standard can actually get a much more robust overall national commitment to clean energy deployment.”
Hendricks said the new plan – which he called a “springboard” for discussion – is crafted to find a political sweetspot on the energy policy front in light of the collapse of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade proposal in the outgoing Congress and given the election of a new House Republican majority.
The concept – which is being outlined at an event with the former Clinton Chief-of-Staff and Democratic partisan John Podesta’s influential Center for American Progress and the American Council on Renewable Energy – represents a thaw in environmental activists’ doctrine adhering to a strict renewal standard that excludes nuclear energy. The move to open the door to nuclear also reflects brass political pragmatism given the fleeting chance of the lame-duck Democratic majority pushing a renewable standard forward in the post-election session as well as the potential attractiveness of a clean energy standard that includes nuclear to some Republicans.
Even under the best circumstances, passage of a clean energy standard in the new Congress is considered an uphill gambit. “Can you imagine the new tea party House pushing through a sweeping government mandate of this kind on top of states’ rights without any compelling national reason to do so?” said one Capitol Hill observer. “That said, this represents progress toward recognition of nuclear energy as a leading clean energy resource and its bipartisan political appeal.”
The package also includes low-cost financing, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reform to facilitate deployment and “backstop transmission siting power.”