During Earth Day last year, I and some friends at the Renewable Energy Coalition joined the celebrations at the EarthDay Jam street party in T. Morato, Quezon City giving out these babies:
The “Renewables Now!” baller ID calls for a more aggressive development of the country’s renewable energy resources in order to promote energy security and a cleaner environment. Specifically, it symbolizes the call for Congress to pass the Renewable Energy Bill, which would provide incentives and mechanisms needed to speed up renewable energy development.
One year later, we’re still waiting.
A couple of decades later, actually. The earliest form of the Renewable Energy Bill, then called the bill on “non-conventional” energy, was filed around 19 years ago. So this thing has been nineteen years in the making now. Seriously.
Yesterday, a group of us trooped to the Senate on what is now a slightly familiar but frustrating errand: to attend the plenary session in hopes that the Renewable Energy Bill will be taken up. However, it turned out that the senators had other things on their minds, even if the bill was on the agenda for discussion.
While waiting in hopes for the bill to be tackled in the ongoing plenary, our group (the Renewable Energy Coalition, a multi-sectoral alliance campaigning for the bill’s passage) gathered at the Senate lounge and talked about possibilities and other campaign activities. The upcoming World Environment Day exhibit at Greenbelt 3 (check it out if you can, June 9-11), the bill’s progress at the Lower House, follow-up public awareness activities after the bill is passed. Present at the table were some officials from the Department of Energy, and some coalition members. I found it particularly amusing when Jasper Inventor of Greenpeace arrived and joined the table, and we all talked about the bill. Just a few days ago, Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior protested the government’s coal energy development program and even blocked ships delivering coal to the Pagbilao plant, but there we were, all together in agreement that the RE Bill should be passed. Not a lot of people come right out and say that no, there shouldn’t be an RE Bill, you see. It’s just that there are more controversial, news-friendly issues that overshadow the bill.
Congress goes on almost a two-month recess next week, and it’s so easy to imagine that the bill will gather dust again and be overshadowed by more controversial issues or congressional investigations or what-have-you. With all the talk of rising fuel costs, worsening climate change impacts, and the need to save foreign exchange by becoming more energy independent, why is this bill not getting the attention that it deserves?