BRADENTON — A Sarasota business leader on Tuesday joined other energy companies in expressing disappointment over the U.S. Senate balking at a vote on a climate and clean energy bill.
Craig Hall, co-founder of Sunovia Energy Technologies, said the U.S. Senate failed to support a growth opportunity among renewable energy firms when it passed on a vote Thursday for the bill that focused on capping carbon emissions tied to global warming.
The bill was to require power plants, factories and gas companies to pay for permits to emit carbon dioxide. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, introduced a new energy bill that addresses oil and excludes a renewable energy electricity standard.
The original bill, Hall said, would have limited the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and encouraged growth and development among renewable energy firms such as his Sarasota company, which specializes in high-efficient solar cells and LED lighting.
“The legislation that was on the table is really critical legislation for the things that we’re doing,” Hall said. “It’s frustrating. At this point I really feel like we’ve had a missed opportunity, given the oil spill and the billions of dollars a day that’s going out the door to import oil. We had a chance to really have a historic turning point in the landscape of clean energy.”
Hall’s frustration was shared among two other clean energy business leaders during a conference call organized by the Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy Economy in response to Reid postponing Thursday’s vote on the climate bill.
“Comprehensive clean energy legislation would strengthen our national security, begin the transition to a clean energy economy and create jobs in Florida at a time when we desperately need all three,” said Susan Glickman, director of the Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy Economy.
Lack of GOP support
However, Reid cited a lack of Republican support for postponing the vote and instead wanted to work on new legislation that responded to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The new bill, introduced Tuesday, includes more liabilities for companies responsible for oil spills, looks to increase funding to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and calls for more freight trucks to convert to natural gas.
2010 vote not certain
Still, it is unclear if there will be a vote this year on a new energy bill and business leaders say it is urgent for government to move forward with a clean energy and climate policy.
“It is clear by the Senate’s refusal to put the policies in place that allow clean energy technologies to compete with traditional carbon-based fuels that they want the American public to continue subsidizing those who pollute,” said Dell Jones, vice president of Regenesis Power, a solar company based in Fort Myers.
“The leadership really has to recognize there’s really no downside except utility companies would have to retool and reinvent themselves. But the mentality is ‘well it’s not broken, we don’t have to fix it.’ That’s not the reality, globally.”
Cody Metcalf, who also participated in the conference call, said a clean energy bill that is inclusive of addressing global warming issues and oil spill disasters is needed quickly so energy-based firms can begin creating jobs in the industry.
“We could have created jobs, reduced our dependency on oil,” said Metcalf, president of WinderLumen LED, an LED lighting distributor in Windermere.
“Getting something done this session would be nice.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.