The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 3, 2009

Groups push Klobuchar on federal energy bill

Even with the intense focus on health care reform by media, special interests and political groups, there is another potentially ground-shaking piece of legislation being debated in Washington, D.C.

Which is why a pair of environmental groups was teaming with some private businesses and state lawmakers in Mankato to bring some pressure to bear on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Fresh Energy and the Izaak Walton League are confident Klobuchar will support tough standards on power companies to reduce energy consumption through increased efficiency by their customers.

But they want Klobuchar, a Democrat who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, to do more than vote for the idea when the Senate finalizes its energy policy.

“She’s a solid vote, but we want her to be a vocal champion as well,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, a St. Paul-based organization that promotes energy efficiency and clean energy. “... It’s just a question of whether she can get her colleagues to put it in the bill.”

The House bill doesn’t have a solid energy efficiency resource standard, instead combining efficiency standards and renewable electricity standards, Noble said.

“It muddies the water,” he said of the House approach. “We need both of those horses pulling as hard as they can.”

Specifically, the groups want federal energy legislation to require utilities to reduce electricity demand by 15 percent by 2020 and natural gas demand by 10 percent.

Klobuchar issued a statement early Tuesday night emphasizing her commitment to energy efficiency without commenting on the specific proposal from Fresh Energy and Izaak Walton.

“I will continue to work for energy legislation to promote more energy efficiency projects in Minnesota and across the country,” Klobuchar said. “Investing in energy efficiency projects is an important part of the effort to decrease our dependence on foreign energy.”

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