Engineering Inc. - July/August 2009 - (Page 6)

lEGIslAtIvE ACtIoN FRom ACEC’s GovERNmENt AFFAIRs DEPARtmENt ACEC rEjECts dElAy on trAnsportAtion bill; bipArtisAn EnErgy bill ClEArs sEnAtE; CAshACCounting bill poisEd for housE introduCtion senate Committee Clears bipartisan Energy package The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved a comprehensive energy bill—the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA)—that may serve as the foundation of a larger climate change/energy package the Senate will take up later this summer or in the fall. ACELA mandates a renewable electricity standard requiring electric utilities to provide 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass, waste-to-energy, certain hydropower projects and geothermal energy by 2021. Just over onefourth of the requirement could be met through energy efficiency measures. Though nuclear energy is not considered “renewable” under the bill, nuclear power generation would be excluded from the baseline of a utility’s electricity sales. The bill also would establish building efficiency requirements, directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to review and update model commercial and residential building codes at least every three years. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) would be given an opportunity to issue new standards for such buildings providing a 30 percent increase in efficiency over the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (residential) and (commercial) levels by 2013. By 2016, that figure would rise to 50 percent. If ASHRAE is unable to meet the deadlines, DOE would have the authority to issue a mandatory model federal code. Other provisions provide for an independent federal agency to coordinate financing for clean energy projects, allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more authority to site transmission lines, and expand oil and gas leasing closer to Florida’s Gulf Coast. house narrowly Clears Climate Change bill By a razor-thin 219–212 margin, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a broad climate change/energy bill. The American Clean Energy and Security Act imposes greenhouse gas (GHG) emission caps on power plants and large industrial facilities. The bill limits GHG emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, reaching an 83 percent reduction by 2050. GHG emitters would be required to obtain “allowances” (or credits) equal to their emissions or purchase “offsets” certifying that GHG emissions have been avoided or eliminated. As a transition measure, the bill gives away for free approximately 85 percent of the allowances, but electricity producers must sell most of their allowances and use the proceeds to ease the burden of increased energy costs on ratepayers. 6 ENGINEERING INC. July / AuGust 2009 ACEC is seeking improvements to the House bill in the form of “adaption assistance”—resources for state and local governments to adapt their infrastructure to climate changes. The Council also is working with the House and Senate, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, to require third-party verification of GHG emissions. One of the more controversial provisions in the bill is a renewable electricity standard requiring that 15 percent of electricity be produced from renewable sources and an additional 5 percent be achieved through energy efficiency efforts by 2020. “Renewable sources” include wind, solar, geothermal and other sources, including, to a limited degree, “incremental” hydropower and municipal waste-to-energy. The bill also creates an autonomous Clean Energy Deployment Administration within the U.S. Department of Energy to finance low-emission projects. Though it does not specify technologies, advanced nuclear, renewable energy projects and carbon capture and sequestration would qualify. The focus of the debate now moves to the Senate, which is expected to take up a companion bill in the fall. house Approves fAA reauthorization bill to increase funding, Expand Qbs The House passed ACEC-backed legislation to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations for four years. The bill substantially increases funding for airport improvements and expands the application of QBS to more airport projects. The FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 915) extends FAA operations and programs through fiscal year 2012 and provides $16.2 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, an increase of more than $500 million annually. The bill also raises the allowable cap on passenger ticket fees from $4.50 to $7 per flight segment, potentially producing an additional $1.1 billion annually. An ACEC-backed provision mandates the use of QBS on local airport projects funded through passenger ticket fees. Current law only requires QBS on federal airport improvement funds. IssuEs oN thE movE six-year transportation Bill Energy and Climate Change health Care Reform WhAt’s NExt house committee action in July senate floor consideration likely in the fall house, senate action expected in July

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2009

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2009
Table of Contents
From ACEC to You
News and Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
Cover Story: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Holding Court
Guest Column
2009 ACEC Professional Liability Insurance Survey
2009-2010 Executive Committee
2009 Fall Conference Primer
Members in the News
One On One

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2009