Energy Bill Update!
On Dec. 13, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed an energy bill that helps reduce America's oil dependency and takes an important step toward reducing global warming pollution.
Unfortunately, the bill does not close $13 billion worth of tax loopholes and subsidies for the oil industry and reinvest the money in clean and renewable energy technologies. Earlier in the day, 40 senators blocked the bill, forcing Senate leaders to jettison these tax provisions.
What is Good About the Energy Bill?
Despite the things that were lost in this bill, it is still good news for wildlife, as it puts a solid down payment on strong global warming legislation passing in 2008.
Historic Fuel Economy Standards for Cars and Trucks:
For the first time in more than 30 years, Congress increased fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks. These provisions will save American families $700 to $1,000 per year at the pump, with $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020 alone.
This is the first increase by Congress since the days of 8-track tapes--marking a significant advancement in our efforts to address our energy security and laying the groundwork for climate legislation next year.
Renewable Fuels Standard:
The energy bill included a new commitment to homegrown biofuels and updates the program to achieve strong greenhouse gas performance standards and includes significant protections for wildlife and biodiversity.
Specifically, the bill includes a prohibition on the conversion of native ecosystems to the production of energy crops. The greenhouse gas performance standards--20% less GHGs for corn ethanol, 50% less for advanced biofuels, and 60% less for cellulosic ethanol and the requirement that land-use changes be accounted for in these targets--help ensure biofuels will contribute to solving global warming.
Incentives for Hybrids:
The energy bill establishes a plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit for individuals and encourages the domestic development and production of advanced technology vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Landmark Energy Efficiency to Bring Down Costs:
The energy bill includes landmark energy efficiency provisions that would save consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars through 2030.
It would require more energy efficient appliances, such as dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators and freezers, and would speed up Energy Department action on new efficiency standards after six years of delay. It would require improved commercial and federal building energy efficiency and assist consumers in improving the efficiency of their homes.
A Skilled Green Workforce:
This package creates an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program to train a quality workforce for "green" collar jobs--such as solar panel manufacturer and green building construction worker--created by federal renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Major investments in renewable energy could create 3 million green jobs over 10 years.
Making Coal Part of the Solution:
The energy bill includes an initiative that takes aggressive steps on carbon capture and sequestration to take the carbon out of coal--authorizing a nationwide assessment of geological formations capable of sequestering carbon dioxide underground and expansive research and development, including large-volume sequestration tests in a variety of different geological formations. First time ever the incentives for more efficient coal use include a requirement for carbon sequestration.