Former Gov. Ritter Heads Effort To Offer Obama Comprehensive Clean Energy Plan


Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who founded and directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, has released a report offering more than 200 ideas on how President Barack Obama could help curb climate change with a clean energy economy.

The CNEE says the report was developed over eight months with the help of more than 100 CEOs, energy experts, academicians and thought leaders who participated in a series of roundtables last year. Ritter notes that not every participant agreed with all of the ideas, but the report reflects the recommendations that received the strongest support.

"The president has led the nation on clean energy and climate change since he took office, including the initiatives in the climate action plan he announced last June," Ritter says. "In the face of congressional inaction, the new recommendations are intended to help the administration continue to lead."

Ritter presented the report and briefed members of Obama's cabinet and senior policy staff at the White House last week. Among its many recommendations, the report urges the president and his administration to do the following:

– Carefully compare the full life-cycle benefits and costs of each energy resource as Obama's national energy policy is implemented. According to the CNEE, the report points out that additional opportunities exist to distinguish carbon-rich and low-carbon resources consistent with the president's goals for minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions most responsible for climate change.

– Direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to review and improve how it counts "green jobs" and to resume reporting the number of those jobs in the economy. The CNEE says the BLS suspended its reporting on green jobs last year after it was criticized for its methodology.

– Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue clear preliminary guidance to states as early as possible in the regulatory process to encourage early adoption of new energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, as well as to explain how they will be credited in state implementation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants.

– Direct the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to review and, if necessary, improve its methods for projecting the growth of renewable energy technologies in years ahead. According to the CNEE, the EIA has been criticized for underestimating renewable energy's contribution to the nation's energy mix.

– Direct federal agencies to work with the nation's electric utilities and utility regulators to update regulations that are getting in the way of clean energy technologies. The CNEE says utility executives told it that outdated regulations are making it difficult to accommodate new energy resources and technologies such as wind energy and rooftop solar systems.

– Request that the Internal Revenue Service use its existing authorities where possible to issue rulings and interpretations of the tax code that increase incentives for private investors to capitalize clean energy technologies. "The idea is not to make the tax system more complex," Ritter says. "It's to make it more fair by offering clean energy the same investment tools and tax benefits now given to fossil fuels."

– Issue even more aggressive goals for the government's use of third-party financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in federal operations.

– More clearly define the president's criteria for "responsible" natural gas production and require that oil and gas companies use best-available production practices on federal lands.

The full report, titled "Powering Forward: Presidential and Executive Agency Actions to Drive Clean Energy in America," is available here.

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