‘It’s time to stop entertaining the climate change deniers’ — Reid

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Clean energy investors, entrepreneurs and proponents shouldn’t be shy about discussing the effects of climate change and shouldn’t fret about those who doubt evidence linking human activities to rising temperatures and fierce weather, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

Speaking at the opening of his sixth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, the Nevada Democrat said increasingly severe Western wildfires exemplify the need to combat climate change on all fronts and to aggressively highlight the nature of the problem.

“I’d like to suggest to everyone here, don’t be afraid to talk about climate change,” Reid said. “We have to because it’s here, it’s real and we have to do something about it. It’s time to stop entertaining the climate change deniers and start talking frankly about the difficult challenges we face.”

The daylong summit features many high-profile speakers, including Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, who appeared together on the day’s first panel.

Moniz touted the Department of Energy’s work implementing President Obama’s broader Climate Action Plan that was unveiled earlier this year, with a key focus at the department on implementing new rules to make appliances more efficient.

Moniz said he signed a final efficiency rule today for metal halide light fixtures and touted a final rule to make microwaves more efficient from earlier this summer. By November, he added, DOE will finalize an efficiency rule for electric motors. The secretary, who has been on the job for just less than three months, said his first speech as secretary, to the Alliance to Save Energy, was an indication of the priority he would give to efficiency policies.

“That was not accidental,” Moniz said. “It was a focus on the commitment in this area, which the president then gave us a huge impetus for … in his Climate Action Plan.”

Moniz also continued his efforts to rebut claims that the administration is fighting a war on coal, pointing to investments in carbon capture and other research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil technologies. He said the goal of the administration’s “all of the above” approach is to provide all energy sources with “a competitive option” to survive in a low-carbon future.

Wellinghoff said FERC is technology-neutral on regulation of the electric grid, but he noted that energy markets are moving to embrace renewable energy, efficiency, smart grids, demand response and other tools to reduce emissions. He said his agency’s job is to help grid operators adjust to this new paradigm and shift from a long-standing reliance on large, centralized power plants.

“Truthfully, our markets were made up for a very different system than we’re moving to,” he said.