ABEC urges U.S. Senate action on energy policy

18 Feb 2002 – Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), a nonpartisan national organization with more than 1,900 members in Ohio, today urged the U.S. Senate to adopt balanced and comprehensive legislation that will help secure America’s energy future and protect the environment.

ABEC’s call to action comes on the heels of the unveiling of President Bush’s new proposal for cutting power plant emissions and as the U.S. Senate prepares to debate federal energy policy. The House of Representatives passed an energy bill last summer, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has promised to bring energy legislation to the floor of the Senate for debate prior to the President’s Day recess.

“America’s energy future is too important to leave to chance,” said Steve Miller, president of ABEC. “It is important that the Senate pass energy policy legislation soon, so the details of a final bill can be worked out with the House of Representatives and the President before Congress adjourns this fall.”

The economic impact of this debate on energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing could be profound, especially in Ohio.

“We must find ways to keep energy costs reasonable, because in intense global markets, manufacturers cannot simply pass new energy costs onto customers,” said ABEC charter member Robert C. Winzeler, chairman of Winzeler Stamping Company in Montpelier, Ohio, and past chairman of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “This is especially critical in Ohio, where the manufacturing sector drives much of the state’s economic activity and employs more than one million Ohioans. It’s a matter of ongoing competitiveness and long-term economic survival.”

ABEC believes it is important that America’s energy policy strike the proper balance between meeting the nation’s growing demand for electricity with the need to protect the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal government’s independent energy forecasting agency, U.S. electricity demand will increase by about 40 percent between now and 2020. Meeting that need is essential to ensure sustained economic growth and an improved quality of life for the American people.

“Growing energy supplies need not come at the expense of the environment,” said Miller. “Over the past 30 years, electricity supply has been increased while, at the same time, the U.S. has made dramatic strides in improving air quality in the U.S.”

ABEC supports including provisions in the national energy bill that will help continue the advancements in developing and deploying clean coal technologies. Both Democrat and Republican energy policy plans envision the nation’s continued investment in clean coal technologies.

Nearly 90 percent of the electricity consumed in Ohio comes from coal. According to the Ohio Coal Development Office, Ohio has one of the premier state coal research and development programs in the nation and leads the nation in deployment of clean coal technologies. The Ohio General Assembly currently is considering legislation, Senate Bill 125, which would provide tax credits to Ohio’s coal-fired generating facilities that install new state-of- the-art environmental systems and low-emission boiler technologies to meet stringent new air-quality standards.

“Clean-coal investments proposed by the Bush administration and members of Congress, if acted upon, can make it possible to fully utilize Ohio’s abundant coal reserves to generate electricity more cleanly and efficiently,” said ABEC charter member Babe Erdos of Shadyside, Ohio, International Board Member for District 6 of the United Mine Workers of America, which covers all of Ohio and part of West Virginia. “Including funding for clean-coal technology research and development as part of a national energy strategy will benefit all Ohioans by keeping energy affordable and promoting a strong, robust economy.”

“The federal budget restrictions will mean that the Congress will need to invest wisely to advance technologies that show the greatest opportunity to return value to the taxpayer,” said Miller. “Because over half of our electricity comes from coal, finding ways to further improve the environmental performance of our most abundant energy resource is essential to meeting the nation’s energy and environmental goals.”

ABEC is a national, non-partisan organization committed to establishing a constructive dialogue with the public on the need for a balanced national energy policy that ensures a ready supply of affordable electricity while enhancing environmental protections.

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