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Is the Energy Bill Congress's Saviour?

June 21, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

A new Gallup poll indicates that Congress’s approval rating is at 14%. But if the Senate can pass the energy bill they’ve been considering, that number will almost certainly go up.

>"All the right pieces are floating around," said Dave Hamilton, director for global warming and energy projects at the Sierra Club. “This Congress will be judged to a large extent on what happens at this moment.”

The bill would recoup lost taxes from big oil companies, protect consumers from gasoline price gauging, promote energy efficiency in lighting and appliances, require utilities to generate some of their electricity from renewable sources, and raise the standard for fuel efficiency for automobiles. One of the last parts the Senate still needs to vote on is how much to raise the Coporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. As it stands, the bill would raise the standard for passenger cars and light trucks from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, with a 4% a increase every year for the next decade. There are two amendments to alter this provision that are waiting to be voted on. One from Ted Stevens (R, AK) would strip the 4% requirement from the bill. The other from Carl Levin (D, MI) and Kitt Bond (R, MO) would raise the standard for passenger cars to 36 miles per gallon by 2022 and the standard for trucks to 30 miles per gallon by 2025 with no further increases required.

It looks like one of these amendments will pass:

>…both Republican and Democratic senators, who have supported the provision [the tougher one included in the bill as it stands], indicated Wednesday they were willing to abandon additional fuel efficiency improvements after 2020 and make other adjustments if that will get the measure approved.
>
>Republican Sens. Trent Lott of Mississippi, Ted Stevens of Alaska and Bob Corker of Tennessee, planned to offer an amendment that would limit the increase to 35 mpg in 2020. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she viewed the 2020 fuel economy target “the heart of the bill” and not the later requirements.

So far the 110th Congress can only claim victories in having increased the minimum wage and remaining on schedule with the appropriations process. Those aren’t things that have a direct impact on most Americans. But the energy bill would — it would save people money by lowering gas prices and increasing fuel economy. Its other effects, accelerating a move towards less dependence on foreign oil, and an increase in the use of renewable energy, would also be popular. It would be a major victory for the 110th Congress, and that is why senators like Diane Feinstein (D, CA) who have publicly supported the tougher fuel economy standards are now willing to compromise on that provision if it means the overall bill will pass. A CBS/ New York Times poll from April shows that Americans overwhelmingly want our energy policy changed:

>"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the energy situation?"

63 percent answered that they disapprove, 27 percent said they approve, and 10 percent are unsure.

The amendments to change the CAFE standards provision will be voted on later today. Work on the bill is likely to be finished tomorrow. A version of the bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

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Comments

  • Anonymous 06/21/2007 3:25pm

    seems like they should go for most bang for the buck that would still get enough votes to pass, since bills get changed all the time or new ones get introduced, so why plan for the future with just one bill — in other words, why go for the 4% yearly increase to the CAFE now when it potentially hurts the passability of the bill?

  • Anonymous 07/06/2008 1:17pm

    I don’t understand why they are only targeting a 10 mpg increase over 12 years? American ought to be able to develop technologies in a single decade that doubles current fuel efficiency. Why not target 50 mpg in the next 10 years instead? As fuel prices source, the incentive for car manufacturers to develop more fuel efficient vehicles will increase. One company in California has developed one such car that gets between 120-300 mpg in a hybrid gas/electric package. It’s produced by a company named Aptera.

  • Anonymous 08/09/2008 4:50am

    Hi,

    Remember the Elvis song that goes something like this:

    “A little less conversation, a little more action.”

    Don’t you wish we had a bit more of that in our politics?

    I just watched Divided We Fail’s new television ad and demanded that McCain and Obama talk about how they will reach across the aisle to turn their talk into real solutions. We’re fighting for affordable health care and long-term financial security, but we won’t get there unless we end partisan gridlock first.

    Won’t you join me? Ask McCain and Obama to tell you how they will work across the aisle for real change! http://capwiz.com/aarp/utr/2/?a=11676301&i=89209170&c=&u=www.capwiz.com%2Faarp%2Fissues%2Falert%2F%3Falertid%3D11676301

    Understand the problem. See the solution. Insist that your government gets the message and just does it. It really is that simple. See our site and white paper at www.UsEnergyIndependence.com and www.AmericanEnergyIndependence.com

    I believe that our elected officials have the political resolve to pass a comprehensive energy independence legislation bill before the 2008 elections. But will they take the high road and set aside their political differences in a joint bipartisan effort to do what all Americans deserve from their elected officials? Americans are facing some of the most important economic and energy issues in the history of our country. We need to contact our elected officials and tell them that we want a united effort from them to come together and resolve their differences. Our founding fathers had their different political views and they helped create a government of the people by the people, the greatest nation on earth the United States of America! It’s up to the 300 plus million people of America to take our government back from those 545 elected officials and fix our current economic situation!

    Why You should care about Energy, Personally.

    Click on this URL to take action now
    http://capwiz.com/gopusa/utr/2/?a=11751481&i=89148651&c=

    Ask McCain and Obama to tell you how they will work across the aisle for real change! http://capwiz.com/aarp/utr/2/?a=11676301&i=89209170&c=&u=www.capwiz.com%2Faarp%2Fissues%2Falert%2F%3Falertid%3D11676301

    If your email program does not recognize the URL as a link,
    copy the entire URL and paste it into your Web browser.

    Powered by Capitol Advantage, LLC
    http://www.capitoladvantage.com
    “Connect and Be Counted”
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  • Anonymous 08/10/2008 5:24pm

    United We Stand, Divided We Fail – Won’t You Join Me?

    We can’t wait – the time to address these problems is now. I hope you’ll signal your agreement by signing onto the Divided We Fail pledge today. If you have already agreed to support the Divided We Fail goals, I hope you’ll urge your colleagues to do the same.

    If you want to learn more about this important effort, visit
    www.dividedwefail.org.

    Thank you for your time and efforts. I look forward to hearing from you in regard to Divided We Fail and whether or not you have signed the Congressional Pledge. Understand the problem. See the solution. Insist that your government gets the message and just does it. It really is that simple. See our site and white paper at www.UsEnergyIndependence.com and www.AmericanEnergyIndependence.com

    I believe that our elected officials have the political resolve to pass a comprehensive energy independence legislation bill before the 2008 elections. But will they take the high road and set aside their political differences in a joint bipartisan effort to do what all Americans deserve from their elected officials? Americans are facing some of the most important economic and energy issues in the history of our country. We need to contact our elected officials and tell them that we want a united effort from them to come together and resolve their differences. Our founding fathers had their different political views and they helped create a government of the people by the people, the greatest nation on earth the United States of America! It’s up to the 300 plus million people of America to take our government back from those 545 elected officials and fix our current economic situation!
    Why You should care about Energy, Personally.

    Click on this URL to take action now
    http://capwiz.com/gopusa/utr/2/?a=11751481&i=89148651&c=

    Ask McCain and Obama to tell you how they will work across the aisle for real change! http://capwiz.com/aarp/utr/2/?a=11676301&i=89209170&c=&u=www.capwiz.com%2Faarp%2Fissues%2Falert%2F%3Falertid%3D11676301

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