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Guest column: Clean Energy Act would boost US economy
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Energy has been top on President Barack Obama's agenda of reforms. After his work to tackle the economic crisis, lower health care costs and advance our country's educational resources, the topic of clean energy is finally on the table.

The latest energy bill being debated in the House is the American Energy and Security Act. Debates have stirred, not only in the House's Energy and Commerce committee but also across the country as Americans try to decide if clean energy is worth the investment.

Investment is the key word in this bill. There is nothing short term about the measures being taken to restructure our country's energy usage and move the nation into becoming an energy independent power. The bill sets many goals, including a 20 percent emission reduction by 2020 and a plan for states to consume 25 percent of their energy demands from renewable resources by 2025.

This conversion will be expensive, and many of the results will be reaped in the future, something our country is not accustomed to. Today's society has become accustomed to expect fast results and solutions; that is the problem with developing a resolution to the energy and environment crisis. There is no quick fix or fast result. The key to consider now is that today's decisions will have an impact on generations to come.

Four main objectives are contained within the act: converting to clean energy, becoming energy efficient, reducing global warming pollution and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Besides the reduction of emissions and conversion to renewable energy goals listed above, the bill also includes measures to restructure our energy grid into a "smart grid." Modernizing the grid will consist of more efficient transmission lines capable of carrying electricity generated from renewable resources.

In the goal to become energy-efficient, federal buildings will be improved to meet advanced building efficiency codes, and states will be provided funding to do so as well. Regulations on manufactured homes, appliances and transportation also are included. The bill attempts to fight global warming pollutants by directing the EPA to progressively restrict carbon dioxide emissions and other leading contributors to global warming.

The final goal of the act is to ensure the transition has no economic impact. ACES works to prevent this by providing compensation to companies that will lose money in the conversion or from competing with foreign imports.

Fortunately, not all of the results are far in the future. ACES offers many economic benefits that will become evident soon after the bill is signed. The conversion to clean energy and energy efficiency will require a large, strong labor force including engineers, producers, and labor to build and install the new energy technologies. Thousands of green jobs will be created across the country.

It also provides resources to create training programs that prepare students for careers in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The economic benefits will have a ripple effect throughout the country.

If legislatures pass the bill, they will immediately see the economic gains from the increase in the labor market's demand. One piece of legislation not only will advance the country in energy usage but also work to gain back the respect of nations around the world.

Parents always tell their children how proud they were growing up with the United States being a superpower and a world leader. Today's children have a different perception; the U.S. is losing ground on being the leading military power, we are no longer the primary innovative country in science and technology and we have long been falling behind in education.

This bill could be the jump-start to place the U.S. back as a world example of advancement and change. Instead of the U.S. being the leading importer of foreign oil, we have the opportunity to become the leading exporter of renewable energy. The country has the opportunity to be the forerunner on renewable energy and preserving the environment. Beneficial practices to the environment will be a slow conversion, but the economic impact will be instantaneous.

It only takes a start. So why not take the necessary motions today?

Chase Staub is a Murrayville resident and a graduating senior from North Hall High School.

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