The week brought important news from Washington on climate change–related legislation. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced a bill to create a federal renewable electricity standard, the White House said it had received permitting guidance on greenhouse gases from the Environmental Protection Agency, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) reportedly canceled a key vote on a bill that sought to curb power plant emissions.

Bingaman, Udall Introduce RES Bill

Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would create a federal renewable electricity standard (RES) of 3% in 2012 and increases to 15% by 2021. Under the proposal, utilities would have to produce at least 11% of their power from wind, solar, biomass, or other renewable energy sources. The remaining 4% would be achieved through energy efficiency improvements.

"Shifting our country toward home-grown renewable energy will create jobs and help reduce carbon pollution. I believe there is strong support for this bipartisan bill and I hope we can pass it through Congress in the coming weeks," said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has for years pressed for passage of legislation that would require utilities to produce a portion of their electricity through renewable sources.

The Senators are working to secure 60 cosponsors so that the bill can be brought up for consideration before Congress adjourns later this year. Cosponsors include Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

OMB Receives EPA GHG Permitting Guidelines

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday said it had received “permitting guidance” from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that delineates how to implement greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting rules.

The guidelines are expected to address how facilities would meet the “best available control technology” standard for controlling emissions, The Hill reported.

At a conference organized last week by the Bipartisan Policy Center to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Clean Air Act, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson outlined (video) five principles that will guide EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act with respect to GHGs, smog, mercury, and other conventional air pollutants. The principles include: promoting commonsense strategies that encourage energy efficiencies and updated technologies; using similar strategies to capture multiple pollutants; setting clear and achievable standards while allowing flexibility on how to get there; seeking input from citizens and stakeholders; and focusing on cost effective strategies by avoiding regulation of small or nonprofit entities.

Carper’s Bill to Curb Power Plant Emissions Shelved

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has reportedly canceled a vote by the Environment and Public Works Committee on a bipartisan bill to amend the Clean Air Act and curb power plant emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

Politico reported that, after failing to reach an agreement on “how far to push electric utilities to reduce their emissions while revamping a suite of existing Environmental Protection Agency regulations coming over the next two years,” Carper and lead Republican co-sponsor Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) scrapped the measure.

Sources: POWERnews, Bingaman, OMB, The Hill, Politico