A bipartisan group of Senators: Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) have developed and introduced legislation aimed at reducing US dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil.
The Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006 (S. 2747), introduced Thursday by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and co-sponsored by 10 other senators, is designed to spur energy conservation with a focus on reducing oil demand through greater fuel efficiency and finding ways to moderate natural gas demand by promoting renewable electricity production.
Among the most important provisions of the bill will be an emphasis on an expanded plan for economy-wide oil savings that will cut oil use, from projected levels, by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2016, 7 million barrels of oil per day by 2026, and 10 million barrels of oil per day by 2031.
Other listed co-sponsors for the bill include: Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ken Salazar (D-CO).
The high gas prices we are facing today can only be addressed by a serious, long-term effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Everything from our national security to our economy is impacted by our energy demands, and it will take an effort equal to that of landing a man on the moon to develop a strategy to meet those needs. The bipartisan energy plan we have introduced today represents a real step toward meeting that challenge.—Senator Bayh
In addition to the mandated and measured decrease in oil consumption, the legislation includes a variety of measures designed to reduce the country’s almost total reliance on petroleum products in the transportation sector, including:
Mandating that each Federal agency achieve at least a 20% reduction in total petroleum consumption, measured from the baseline of fiscal year 1999, not later than 1 October 2009.
Accelerating the widespread commercialization of all types of electric drive vehicle technology into all sizes and applications of vehicles, including commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid fuel cell vehicles, with the application of $1.8 billion in funding from fiscal years 2007 through 2012.
Providing up to $1 billion in incentives for the production of cellulosic ethanol from fiscal years 2007 through 2011.
Establish a research and development program for lightweight materials for vehicles, and funding it with $360 million from fiscal years 2007 through 2012.
Expanding the authority of the Secretary of Energy to provide loan guarantees and competitive grants to automakers and parts manufacturers to convert existing plants or to build new facilities for manufacturing fuel-efficient vehicles and vehicle components.
Establishing a trust fund to provide matching funding for building out alternative fueling stations.
Providing funds to states for programs to encourage motorists to retire vehicles that are inefficient, and for programs to reduce school bus idling.
The bill is similar to legislation that Sens. Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman and Coleman introduced last year. That bill—S.2025, the Vehicle Fuel Choice Act (earlier post)—provided a mix of energy policy and energy tax incentives aimed at moving our economy toward both more efficient use of oil and a more diverse future mix of transportation fuels, including biofuels. Introduced by Bayh, the bill had 20 cosponsors.
Because S.2025 mixed policy and tax provisions, it was referred in November to the Senate Finance Committee—where it still sits.
Yet, many of the provisions of S.2025 are in the jurisdiction of the Senate Energy Committee. The Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006 takes the energy-related provisions pf S. 2025 and packages them in a bill that has been referred to the Energy Committee.
The new bill also includes a number of provisions aimed at relieving demand and price pressure on natural gas, encouraging states to strengthen their programs on demand-side management, and better educating consumers about energy efficiency measures that they can take.
In addition to this bill, Sen. Bingaman and other senators introduced, also on a bipartisan basis, legislation that will extend a variety of tax provisions contained in the energy bill enacted last year to encourage efficiency investments and the development of renewables. It also will provide new incentives to help Americans buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. The cost of these incentives will be offset by closing various tax loopholes for large oil companies.