A Republican-crafted energy bill Friday aimed at encouraging construction of new refineries squeaked through the House of Representatives by a 212–210 vote today.
In addition to streamlining the process for the construction of new refineries, HR 3893, the Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005, also tackles gasoline distribution and pricing; reduces the number of specialized fuels in the country from 19 to 6; codifies the President’s ability to waive fuel quality standards in time of emergency, and encourages carpooling. (Earlier post.)
The House Rules Committee yesterday blocked an attempt to offer as an amendment to HR 3893 a bill increasing CAFE standards 10% by 2016.
Eighteen Republican representatives, led by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), had earlier this week written a letter to House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier requesting approval to permit a vote on that amendment.
The transportation sector is the nation’s single largest consumer of oil, yet it is also the only sector of the economy that is less fuel efficient than it was 20 years ago. A debate on gasoline needs to include measures that will address that fact, especially when the National Academy of Sciences concluded four years ago that the technology exists to accomplish fuel economy goals cost-effectively and safely. And the study did not even consider three important technologies that automakers have since begun to introduce in the marketplace that can achieve even greater fuel economies: hybrid engine technologies, clean diesel technologies and high-strength, lightweight composites and steels.
The House needs and deserves to have a discrete debate on fuel economy, just as it has had during the debate on past energy bills. The issue must not get lost in disputes about other aspects of H.R. 3893, which deals with a wide variety of legal and regulatory issues. We urge you to allow a clear, full and open debate on the single measure that would do the most to reduce the U.S. demand for oil.
Also signing the letter were: Peter King, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security; Tom Davis (VA), Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform; Frank Wolf; Chris Shays; Mark Kirk; Todd Platts; Wayne Gilchrest; Jim Leach; Jim Saxton; Nancy Johnson; Tim Johnson; Michael Fitzpatrick; Roscoe Bartlett; Frank LoBiondo; Jim Ramstad; Jim Gerlach; and Curt Weldon.
No Democrats voted for the legislation; GOP leaders kept the vote open as they worked to convert the last few votes needed to push the bill through. Thirteen Republicans voted against the bill; six Republicans and six Democrats did not vote.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 3893 would increase direct spending by $1.5 billion over the next five years, and by $3 billion over the 2006-2015 period. In addition, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $500 million over the 2006-2010 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
Now it’s on to the Senate.