Friday, December 14, 2007

Scaled-Down Energy Bill Passes 86-8; House Will Follow

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Dec 13: After Democrats finally conceded to dropping both the renewable electric standard (RES) and multi-billion tax package on the oil and gas industry; the Senate was finally able to approve the scaled-down version of the comprehensive energy bill (H.R. 6) at about 6:25 PM. Seven Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ultimately voted against the measure. Six Senators did not vote, including five presidential candidate that were on the campaign trail: Biden (D-DE); Clinton (D-NY); Dodd (D-CT); Hagel (R-NE); McCain (R-AZ); and Obama (D-IL). An attempt earlier in the day to pass a bill that excluded the RES but retained the tax package failed to gain the necessary 60 votes; and failed to pass by one vote -- 59-40 [See WIMS 12/13/07]. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the House will pass the bill next week and send it to the President.

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, predicted earlier when the Senate defeated the first attempt to pass the bill that elimination of the RES and tax package would "save the energy bill from a likely veto by President Bush." Speaker Pelosi immediately issued a release following the Senate vote praising its passage and said, "The vote by the Senate to overwhelmingly pass historic and sweeping energy security legislation is great news for American consumers worried about the price of gas at the pump. It sends a message to world leadersmeeting in Bali that the United States is serious about addressing global warming. And it meets our moral obligation to build a better future for our children."

Speaker Pelosi continued, "This legislation includes an historic increase in fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 -- the first such action in 32 years. It makes a major commitment to homegrown biofuels, sending our energy dollars to the Midwest, not the Middle East. It sets our nation on a new course -- a new direction for energy security. The House will pass this remarkable legislation next week; I am hopeful that President Bush will sign it."

The Speaker also released a brief summary of key provisions, saying the bill would: reduce our dependence on foreign oil; strengthen national security; lower energy costs for consumers; create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and strengthen our economy; and reduce global warming; increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (CAFE); save American families $700 to $1,000 per year at the pump; produce $22 billion in net annual consumer savings in 2020; reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 28 million cars and trucks off the road; expand American-grown biofuels (Renewable Fuels Standard) to 36 billion gallons in 2022; slash U.S. oil consumption by more than 4 million barrels per day by 2030 (more than twice our daily imports from the Persian Gulf); produce up to 24 percent of the cut in greenhouse gas emissions needed by 2030; save consumers more than $400 billion through new energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings through 2030; creates hundreds of thousands of jobs; promotes massive development of biofuels; spurs cutting-edge energy research; prepare workers for 3 million new "green" jobs over the next 10 years; and promote small businesses as renewable energy leaders.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) praised the bill passage which included provisions they wrote to help small businesses increase their energy efficiency and "hold the Bush Administration accountable for failing to help small businesses reduce their dependency on fossil fuels." They said the bill would: require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act; establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs); promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency; create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting; allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.

Many other groups and organizations issued releases on the bills passage. WIMS has included links to a sampling of some of the releases below.

Access the roll-call vote (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6 (click here). Access a release from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access a release from Senators Kerry and Snowe (click here). Access a supporting release from Securing America's Future Energy's (SAFE's) Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC, click here); Access a supporting release from Toyota (click here). Access a supporting release from National Wildlife Federation (click here). Access a supporting release from Senator Boxer (D-CA) (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]