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Update on the US Senate Energy Bill

Amendments to the major energy bill currently under consideration in the Senate (earlier post) began appearing yesterday, with subjects ranging from the inclusion of support for coal-to-liquids (CTL) projects to the establishment of a renewable portfolio standard for power generation.

A table of yesterday’s amendments follows:

Proposed Amendments to S.1419/H.R.6, 12 June 2007
Amendment Sponsor(s) Title and/or notes
SA 1505 Inhofe and Thune Gas Price Act
  • Streamlines permitting process for “domestic fuels facilities” including refineries and alt fuel plants;
  • Establishes a R&D and evaluation program for Fischer-Tropsch diesel and jet fuel “as a mechanism for reducing engine exhaust emissions”
  • Provide financial assistance to commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol or CTL facilities on BRAC or Indian lands, with a Federal contribution of 80-100%
  • Updating the hydrocarbon reserves classification system.
  • SA 1506 Stevens and Landrieu Energy Efficient Lightbulbs
  • Establishes minimum lumens per watt standards for lightbulbs of not less than 30 by calendar year 2013 and not less than 45 by calendar year 2018.
  • Authorizes a 6-year, $60-million lighting technology research and development program.
  • SA 1508 Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Salazar, Lincoln, Cantwell, Kerry, Dodd,  Kohl, Reed, Collins, Nelson Oil Savings Plan and Requirements. Directs the appropriate agencies of the Federal government to develop a plan to reduce oil consumption by:
  • 2,500,000 barrels of oil per day on average during calendar year 2016
  • 7,000,000 barrels of oil per day on average during calendar year 2026;
  • 10,000,000 barrels per day on average during calendar year 2031

  • SA 1508 agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 63 - 30. Record Vote Number: 209.
    SA 1509
    SA 1552
    Craig Geologic Mapping Reauthorization. Provides $640 million over 10 years (fiscal years 2007 through 2016) for updating and expanding geologic mapping of the US.
    SA 1510 Cochran Increased Capacity of Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Raises the SPR to 1.5 billion barrels from current 1.0 billion barrels.
    SA 1511 Murkowski Study of CAFE Standards for Commercial Trucks. NHTSA to conduct study of the anticipated economic impacts and fuel saving benefits that would result from vehicle fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy duty vehicles, as specified in the main body of the bill.
    SA 1512 Murkowski Broadens the potential uses of funding proposed to support renewable energy projects in Section 215 of the bill.
    SA 1513 Murkowski and Stevens Adds personnel hiring language to the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act.
    SA 1514 Kerry and Sanders Renewable Portfolio Standard. Requires utilities obtain a percentage of the base amount of electricity it sells to electric consumers in any calendar year from new renewable energy or existing renewable energy.
  • 5% minimum for 2009 through 2012
  • 10% minimum for 2103 through 2016
  • 15% minimum for 2017 through 2019
  • 20% minimum for 2020 through 2030
  • SA 1515 Sanders, Clinton, Kerry, Biden, Salazar Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training. Establishes a public program  and funds other initiatives that provide training for jobs that are created through renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives with authorized funding of $100 million per fiscal year.
    SA 1515 agreed to in Senate by unanimous consent.
    SA 1516 Menendez Evaluate the effect the laws (including regulations) limiting the siting of privately owned electric distribution wires on and across public rights-of-way might have on the development of combined heat and power facilities.
    SA 1517 Menendez Expands the definition of “State”in the Energy Conservation and Production Act (42 U.S.C. 6862) to include the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
    SA 1518 Menendez Prohibits oil and gas leasing in the Mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic planning area of the Outer COntinental Shelf.
    SA 1519 Kohl, Specter, Leahy, Grassley, Biden, Snowe, Feingold, Schumer, Coburn, Durbin, Lieberman, Boxer, Sanders NOPEC—“No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007”. Makes it illegal under the Sherman Act for foreign cartels to limit production of oil, natural gas or petroleum products, or to set or maintain prices.  The Attorney General can sue.
    SA 1520 Cardin Establishes a “National Commission on Energy Independence” for the US.
    SA 1521 Biden Compact Fluorescent Lighting Grant Program. Establishes a program for grants to States for the distribution of medium base compact fluorescent lamps to households in the State.
    SA 1524 Salazar, Grassley, Obama, Harkin, Hagel, Lugar, Feingold, Clinton, Casey, Nelson (Nebraska), Brownback, Kohl, Kerry, Johnson, Tester, Cantwell, Thune, and Cochran Sense of Congress. By 2025, a US goal of 25% of total energy consumed should be from renewable resources, while the US continues to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber.
    SA 1525 Sanders Standards for solar hot water heaters.
    SA 1526 Thune Extension and modification of renewable electricity production credit.
    SA 1527 Thune Extension of the ethanol tariff. Extends the tariff on imported ethanol through 2010.


    Adam Galas

    Except for SA 1527 I find these amendments fine, and the Renewable Portfolio Standards are excellent, especially 25% renewable by 2025. That is a very doable and necessary standard.


    SA1519 NOPEC is a nice piece of grandstanding, but impossible to enforce short of invading a few more countries. While they're at it maybe they should reduce the deficit by taxing all foreigners living abroad.

    C Harget

    Why do you think there's no mention of butanol, either via micro organisms or fisher troph? Isn't Butanol more ideal than ethanol?

    Tom Gray

    Inside word on the Renewable Portfolio Standard is that the vote will be very tight. If you support this concept, the time to weigh in is right now. You can reach any Senator's office through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association


    Butanol is still an unknown as far as viability as a fuel is concerned. It's still in the R&D stage, though BP and DuPont are supposed to test it as a motor fuel in the UK this year.

    I am extremely leery of mandates, since I just know that we'll end up using more and more corn, especially if the viability of cellulosic feedstocks falls through.


    SA 1511 NHTSA to study CAFE. Now ain't that curious! Why would the NHTSA need an amendment to study CAFE?

    In 1994, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to explore raising the CAFE standard for light-duty trucks. Congress included language in the FY1996-FY2001 DOT Appropriations (P. L. 104-50, P. L. 104-205, P. L. 105-66, P. L. 106- 69, and P. L. 106-346) prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for any rulemaking on CAFE, effectively freezing the standards.



    S.Amdt 1505 was rejected and S.Amdt was passed. An updated list of recent Senate roll calls can be found here.

    The rest have yet to be voted on. An up-or-down vote on the competing Renewable Portfolio Standard proposals is expected tomorrow (at least that's what Senator Bingaman is pushing for).

    Gerald Shields

    SA 1519 as written is useless and unenforceable. SA 1506 while sets some standards and sets aside money for research into lighting technology, does no outright ban on florescent bulbs. SA 1521 is a poor substitute for a ban on flourescents.

    Jeff R

    Gerald, I think you mean to say a ban on incandescents. In any case, I think this is a bad idea. Government should dictate the ends, not the means. It's best role is set a goal to achieve a public good, while business is best at figuring out the method for achieving it. So set as high a requirement for lumens per watt as you like, but who knows, someone might come up with an incandescent that meets it (not likely, but...)

    Same with miles per gallon. Set standards for efficiency, not technology. Don't favor hybrids over gas or anything else, or you get crazy effects like a Toyota Highlander getting a tax break when a Honda CRX doesn't.

    Bob L

    We need to contact these senators and let them know they could include something in this bill that would make a huge Difference. This would be a real time (instant) fuel consummation gauge and an average fuel mileage gage. An example of this is found on the Honda Civic Hybrid. Honda incorporates it into their normal gage pod. Probably cost them a couple bucks for each car.

    These two gages on my wife’s car change the way I drive, making me more aware of fast starts and lifting off the gas early when coming to a stop. I really miss them on my minivan.

    P.S. Imagine the Dodge Ram driver looking down and seeing he is only getting 7 MPG in the city. It would really help to remind people about their habits.

    Sam G

    Cervus and C Harget,

    You are right that butanol is better, don't have to look far to figure that out either. And, butanol is certainly possible, look into ABE (acetone-butanol-ethanol) fermentation, its been around for awhile. Unfortunately, ethanol is too much of a buzz word now for politicians.

    Stan Peterson

    If you would like to do some back of envelope calculations that reveal how effective it would be to raise the CAFE from 27.5 to 35 MPG, it is easy to do so. The net difference turns out to tbe about 1.16 million barrels per day.

    This is substantial amount until you compare it to waht the US consumes daily. It is about 20 million barrels of petroleum per day, so the CAFE changes will reduce US demand by 1 part in 20 or 5%.

    That's Right a lousy 5% !! Ethanol is already approaching 10% of the gasolene fuels we use and that is double the change from the CAFE regulation.

    It is quite apparent that conversion to electricity for most ground transport is necessary to make any appreciable difference. Thanks to the efforts of those on these pages, it is coming rapidly. HEVs PHEVs and BEVs will reduce oil consumption by 60% or 70% not a ridiculous 5%.

    Whaht is the Point? Don't put your trust is loud-mouth, know-nothing, DO NOTHING, phony Greenie politicians. They haven't produced anywhere in the world;,even where they are in power, and are incapable of doing anything except spout hot air.


    When do they fund expanded mass transportation or increase the requirements of the "national energy code," (ASHRAE 90 - 2004).

    C Harget

    Stan Peterson,

    Your calculation is in year one. Each year, a larger percentage of the fleet becomes higher mileage and the consumption decreases further compared to "steady state." After 10 years of a CAFE of 35 mpg, the savings are something like 22%. Personally, I would like to see CAFE of 40 mpg in 8 years. That's enough time for every car manufacturer to age out existing lines, retool, and be selling compliant models. Whether they are parallel "through the ground" hybrids that only modify the rear axle and some trunk space, or lighter, or using the smartest injectors and valves, or whatever grab bag of off-the-shelf technologies you want, there are multiple ways to get there.

    Ethanol, beyond E10, is hard to distribute with existing pipes, and when based on corn doesn't reduce oil imports near enough.

    Cellulosic biobutanol would be addition to much higher CAFE standards or very aggressive grams of carbon per mile standards.

    Gerald Shields

    Jeff R, you said:

    "Gerald, I think you mean to say a ban on incandescents."

    Yes, you are correct. Sorry about that. However, I'm sticking with the idea to ban incandescents. Not only CFLs will help decrease our energy use in the long run, but LEDs will help also. Australia, Cuba and other countries have already done this. Moreover, I don't see any blacklash to this. The Market can onlt take you so far.


    Personally I would like to see more renewable energy and fuel generated by renewable sources such as whales!
    There is a lot of fat in a whale and you can turn it into bio diesel, we can even use diesel powered boats to hunt down the whale menace out there and make a safer sea for everyone!

    Larry White

    I suggest that we go back to what made this country great by using the internet to allow more workers to
    work from home. Long ago, many of our workers worked from home. I believe that maybe 25% of all workers
    could work from home. There are many advantages:
    Less gasoline used to move butts
    Less energy required to heat, cool and light two buildings
    More time with children - better children
    Your family car would last longer
    Fewer tires and oil changes
    Less congestion on the highways
    Better health thru less stress, and better food at home
    Better family relations
    Working from home thru electronics makes our whole country more efficient and productive as we must compete with other countries. It costs less to install
    more fiberoptics to the homes than to build more highways. Bandwidth costs less than concrete.

    Ok everyone. I want to hear your comments!

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