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United States

RES hopes dashed as Democrats drop comprehensive energy bill

US: Senate majority leader Harry Reid has confirmed that comprehensive climate and energy legislation, including a renewable electricity standard (RES), is no longer a Democratic priority.

Congress will consider narrower energy bill
Congress will consider narrower energy bill
Instead, Reid said the Senate will take up more narrow legislation covering energy efficiency, a response to the BP oil spill and conversion of long-haul trucks to natural gas.

Reid told a press conference that the climate bill’s progress had been halted by a lack of Republican cooperation.

"Unfortunately at this time we don’t have a single Republican to work with in achieving this goal. For me it’s terribly disappointing," Reid said.

He insisted that he and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts would continue to woo Republican support for a comprehensive bill.

But he said the Democrats’ focus, in the days before their August recess begins, would turn to measures with stronger bipartisan support.

This includes encouraging domestic natural gas production through conversion of 18-wheel trucks, a key plank of the energy plan championed by natural gas tycoon and wind developer T. Boone Pickens.

A national renewable electricity standard would require utilities to derive a certain percentage of their energy from clean sources.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) sent a letter to Reid urging him to include the RES in next week’s bill.

"Without immediate passage, hundreds of thousands of future jobs in the clean energy sector could be lost and surrendered to other countries forever," the letter said.

It was co-signed by labour and environmental groups, including the United Steelworkers and Sierra Club, and by utilities AES, NextEra and Xcel.

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