Congressman Bruce Braley is hosting a workshop in Cedar Falls this morning to review the energy bill that cleared the U.S. House Energy Committee a week ago. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, became a member of the panel this year.
"I ran for congress in 2006 because I felt that our failure to address fundamental issues of climate change and to reshape our energy policy was going to have an enormous longterm impact on my kids and their children," Braley says. "And this comprehensive bill achieves many of the goals that we set out to accomplish."
The American Climate and Energy Act of 2009 will reduce dependency of foreign oil, according to Braley, who says it will help create more "green collar" jobs. But Braley admits some of the bill’s provisions may lead to job losses, too. "One of the things the bill is designed to do is to reduce the impact on those areas of the country that would be most dramatically affected by this shift," Braley says.
"But, for example, one of the things that I can tell you from firsthand experience is there are utility companies in some of those affected parts of the country that investing in wind energy and wind farms out here in my state and that’s one of the ways that these utility companies are going to be able to transform and diversify their energy portfolio and, at the same time, help workers transition to those new jobs in a new energy economy."
The bill is 946 pages long. Some environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are critical of the bill, saying Braley and others on the energy committee made too many compromises in the bill. "One of the things that happens is that we live in a world where compromise is a necessary part of moving forward on any groundbreaking legislation like this energy bill," Braley says. Braley made his comments during an appearance on a Public Radio International program called "To The Point."
At 10 o’clock this morning, Braley opened his Iowa briefing on the bill. The event’s being held at the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education.