Friday, December 14, 2007

U.S. Senate Approves Scaled Back Energy Bill

The U.S. Senate passed the amended Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) yesterday evening, 86-6. The House of Representatives is set to approve the bill next week.

The energy bill will help reduce America’s oil dependency and will be an critical step in reducing global warming pollution. However, according to Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, 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. On Thursday morning, 40 senators lined up behind big oil companies, instead of American families. Oil companies have contributed $8 million to senators over the past four years.

Democrats noted disappointment at the demise of the tax package and the removal of a renewable electricity standard but said the final bill is still a historic achievement.

The centerpiece of the final bill is language requiring a 40 percent increase in vehicle fuel economy standards, raising the average fleet standard to 35 miles a gallon by 2020.

The provision, which drew reluctant support from the U.S. auto industry, is expected to save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and save consumers some $22 billion in 2020. Proponents say it will also make a significant dent in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, equivalent to taking some 60 million cars off the road.

Although is not the bill that environmentalist had hoped for, it at least shows effort on the part of the United States in the fight against global warming.

President Bush had threatened to veto the bill over the tax package.

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