Legislation introduced this morning would set the first national standard for clean energy in the US.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, which would require utilities to source a set percentage of their energy from "clean" sources.
Although the kinds of energy defined as "clean" are much broader than Renewable Energy Standards, in place in 29 states, the legislation has little chance of passing the GOP-dominated House.
Included in "clean" energy are renewables, nuclear, natural gas and clean coal.
Beginning in 2015, large utilities would have to source a minimum 24% of their energy from "clean" sources, increasing 3% each year until they reach 84% in 2035.
Eight Democrats are co-sponsors of the bill so far.
Republicans aren't interested in the bill because it would "pick winners and losers." They also say it would hurt the economy by raising electricity prices, but an analysis by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) shows it would be neutral on price.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on Bingaman's committee, says she would support the bill only if it replaces EPA greenhouse gas regulations.
Still, Bingaman wants to hold a hearing with administration and utility industry officials in the coming weeks.
"Then we'll see if there's enough support to go ahead and report the bill to the Senate floor," Bingaman told The Hill. "I don't know if there will be."
In his 2011 and 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to pass a Clean Energy Standard. He also included it in his proposed 2013 budget, saying, "it's the centerpiece of the Administration's strategy to ensure strong American leadership in the clean energy economy."
"As the president has said consistently, a Clean Energy Standard (CES) will drive innovation and investment in a range of clean energy sources - including renewables like wind and solar as well as nuclear, efficient natural gas and clean coal. A CES will also help America remain a leader in the clean energy economy, with all the jobs that it will bring. We look forward to working with Congress as the bill moves forward," says Clark Steven, a White House spokesperson.
Last year, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation that would enact a federal Renewable Energy Standard.
Read how renewables would fair in a Clean Energy Standard.
Here's the legislation: