The Little RES That Could

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A bill to enact a federal mandate for renewable electricity is gathering steam in the Senate. And unlike many issues in Washington these days, the measure is gaining support on both sides of the aisle. On Thursday, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) became the latest Republican to back a renewable electricity standard (RES).

Grassley joins John Ensign (Nev.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Sam Brownback (Kan.) among Republican co-sponsors of the bill. Twenty-one Democrats have also signed on.

The bill would require utilities to draw 3 percent of electricity from renewable sources starting in 2012. By 2021, that requirement scales up to 15 percent. While this RES is lower than the House-passed measure and than the goal renewables energy advocates had hoped for, it is likely the most attainable energy measure this year. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said he planned to gather 60 votes for the measure before encouraging Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold a vote, most likely in a lame-duck session post-election. So far he’s 25 votes closer to that goal.

While Reid is supportive of an RES, his office offered a more realistic take on its chances of the measure getting on the ever-growing to-do list. A leadership aide sent along this statement:

Senator Reid strongly supports a national renewable electricity standard. But, there is very limited time before the October recess and probably even during the lame duck, so the proponents of a stand-alone RES will need to demonstrate they have 60 votes for swift floor action before floor consideration could be scheduled.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest