Monday, January 08, 2007

Congress may move quickly on energy bills

Looks like volatile oil prices, global warming, home heating costs and energy security concerns are moving the 110th Congress to act relatively quickly on energy legislation. Some good, some not so good: Increasing use of ethanol, extracting liquid fuels from coal and boosting fuel efficiency rules for vehicles.

Rather than lump everything into one energy bill like they did in 2005, Congress may debate each legislation piecemeal.

Proposals include:
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has introduced a "message bill" that aims to shape future talks on energy and the environment. The bill includes a broad framework for committee action on fuel efficiency, biofuels, and global warming.
  • Several Midwest senators have introduced a Biofuels Security Act that would require the U.S. to use 60 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by 2030.
  • Sens. Obama (D-IL) and Bunning (R-KY) introduced the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007, setting the stage for large-scale production of turning natural gas or coal into liquid fuel for vehicles.
  • Sen. Stevens (R-AK) wants to raise fuel efficiency standards to 40 mpg by 2017 (average now is 24.6).
  • Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, wants to raise corporate average fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon (mpg) by or before 2017.
Jim DiPeso, Policy Director of Republicans for Environmental Protection, told the Augusta Free Press,
"I think there are areas where the president and the new Democratic majority can come to quick agreement...I think clean alternative-energy development is one of those areas. Extending the production tax credit for wind energy is another example. A national renewable-energy standard perhaps modeled on the Texas legislation. More incentives for alternative fuels. Strengthening of the efficiency standards for energy-using equipment. I think there are areas where Congress and the administration could come to quick agreement - and that would set a good tone and a pattern for coming to agreement or attempting to come to agreement on other issues as well."
It seems fairly commonsense - and encouraging - that both parties may work together on energy policy and really make change in terms of cost, security, and climate. New Congress juices energy bills
Augusta Free Press: The battle for the heart and soul of the GOP

Photo credit: NREL

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