Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seniors Urge Congress to Oppose Federal Renewable Energy Standards

/PRNewswire/ -- The 60 Plus Association, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, today sent a letter to all members of Congress calling on them to oppose federal renewable energy standards. In his letter, James Martin, president of 60 Plus, noted that many senior citizens live on a fixed income and that costs of a federal renewable energy standard will have a disproportional negative affect on the senior community. The full letter is as follows:

Dear Member:

Congress is currently considering an energy policy that, if passed, will have serious affects on senior citizens. Federal renewable energy standards (RES), which will require states to produce a certain percentage of energy from renewable resources, is painfully expensive for business, for industry, and for consumers, especially senior citizens already struggling on a fixed income.

As a national nonpartisan senior citizens advocacy group, we at the 60 Plus Association urge all Members of Congress to oppose an aggressive federal renewable energy standard (RES).

Before our nation can produce and use more renewable resources, we need to invest in the infrastructure required for us to draw from these resources. We also need to account for the fact that renewable resources are much more expensive than our current energy producing assets. These costs - hundreds of billions of dollars - will be shouldered by the American people. A federal mandate like a RES would do just that; put the burden to pay for these investments on those who are least able to afford it.

Senior citizens have a great interest in this issue as so many are living on a fixed income and energy costs are regressive; the less one earns the higher percentage of his or her income is spent on energy. Daryl Bassett, Director of Empower Consumers, said it best in his April 23, 2009 testimony before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce:

"Older Americans are disproportionately affected by higher energy costs. As a share of income, households headed by a person age 65 or older spend more on energy bills than younger households. As CRS recently reported, 'Older households account for approximately 20% of our nation's total consumption on energy-related products. Although in actual dollar terms older households spend slightly less on energy-related consumption than households headed by a person under age 65, they spend a higher share of their income on energy-related expenditures.'

"...In this sense, a federal RES behaves like a regressive income tax."

We acknowledge the noble intent behind this policy, but as realists, we know retirees can least afford this expensive proposition.

Any energy policy that is enacted needs to include adequate cost containment measures to ensure that in this uncertain economic time, we are not going to leave our senior community by the wayside in our clamor for investments in "green" energy.

For that reason, we ask policy makers to avoid imposing renewable energy mandates that will likely result in higher utility bills for that segment of society least able to afford these costs increases, mainly low-income seniors struggling to make ends meet.

On behalf of 5.5 million seniors, thank you for your consideration.


James L. Martin

The 60 Plus Association is a 15-year-old nonpartisan organization working for death tax repeal, saving Social Security, affordable prescription drugs, lowering energy costs and other issues featuring a less government, less taxes approach. 60 Plus calls on support from nearly 5.5 million citizen activists. 60 Plus publishes a magazine, SENIOR VOICE, and a Scorecard, bestowing awards on lawmakers of both parties who vote "pro-senior." 60 Plus has been called "an increasingly influential senior citizen's group."

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