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Auto Industry Supporting Levin-Bond Fuel Economy Amendment

Update on the US Senate Energy Bill, Part 2

Some 100 amendments to the energy bill under deliberation in the Senate emerged in the first three days of debate, among them being a proposal for a National Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (Obama, SA 1579) and another being a proposal to promote the development of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, and deploying near-term programs to electrify the transportation sector (Salazar, SA 1572).

The Levin/Stabenow more lenient proposal on CAFE is coming to the floor today, although the two senators and other co-sponsors held a press conference on Thursday to describe the basics: 36 mpg for cars by 2022; 30 mpg for light trucks by 2025; 50% flex-fuel production mandated by 2015. (Earlier post.)

A number of new amendments proposed major initiatives. SA 1539 (Akaka) establishes a marine and hydrokinetic energy program (wave, tide and current energy). SA 1547 (Tester) establishes a national goal of 15% geothermal energy by 2030 (National Geothermal Initiative Act), and puts more than half a billion dollars to it through 2012. SA 1558 (Obama) establishes a program in which the Federal government will reimburse automakers for a portion of their healthcare costs for retirees, if the automakers then put at least 50% of that money back into advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles.

There is a continuing push on the part of some senators to include coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids as clean and alternative options; there is a corresponding pushback by senators who want to keep the coal option off the fuel table.

The Senate voted down the Inhofe amendment (SA 1505) proposing support for refineries, an evaluation program for Fischer-Tropsch transportation fuels, and support for Coal-to-Liquids projects. Senator Inhofe subsequently resubmitted some of the amendment’s proposals as newer amendments.

The Senate also tabled an amendment (SA 1538) that would have established a clean energy portfolio standard (rather than a renewable portfolio standard)—clean energy being defined as including nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, efficient, and efficiency and demand programs.

A table of the current status of amendments follows. Amendments with numbers in bold have been accepted; amendments with number stricken through have been rejected, tabled or withdrawn.

Proposed Amendments to Senate Energy Bill (amended H.R.6) 12 June 07
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.

  • Defeated 13 June by Yea-Nay vote of 52 to 43. Record Vote Number: 210
    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.
  • 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
    SA 1533
    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.


    Proposed Amendments to Senate Energy Bill (amended H.R.6) 13 June 07
    Amendment Sponsor(s) Title and/or notes
    SA 1528 Bingaman, Domenici
  • Active coordination of the different Nanoscience Centers to maintain a globally competitive posture in energy storage systems for motor transportation and electricity transmission and distribution.
  • Any industrial participant active in a Energy Storage Research Center is to be granted the first option to negotiate with an invention owner, at least in the field of energy storage technologies, nonexclusive licenses and royalties on terms that are reasonable, as determined by the Secretary.
  • SA 1529 Bingaman and Domenici Annual reports on the quantity, type, and cost of each lighting product purchased by the Federal Government.
    SA 1530 Pryor Promotion of energy-saving performance contracts.
    SA 1531 Pryor Energy and water evaluations and efficiency measures for the Federal government.
    SA 1532 Thune Fast-track (180-day) approval of higher blends of ethanol for use in non-flex fuel vehicles for vehicles that receive a satisfactory review based on a study (also in the bill).
    SA 1534
    SA 1565
    Nelson Biofuels Investment Trust Fund.
    SA 1535 Cardin, Mikulski, Doss, Kerry, Reed, Kennedy, Whitehouse Siting, construction, expansion and operation of LNG terminals. Federal government cannot approve or disapprove an application for an LNG terminal without the express concurrence of each State affected by the application.
    SA 1537 Bingaman, Cardin, Reid, Salazar, Snowe, Durbin Renewable Portfolio Standard. A different timeline table and different end percentage:
  • 2010 through 2012: 3.75%
  • 2013 through 2016: 7.50%
  • 2017 through 2019: 11.25%
  • 2020 through 2030: 15.0%
  • SA 1538 Domenici, McConnell, Craig, Bennett, Crapo, Graham, Murkowski “Clean” Portfolio Standard. Amendment to SA 1537. More aggressive percentage.
  • 2010 through 2012: 5%
  • 2013 through 2016: 10%
  • 2017 through 2019: 15%
  • 2020 through 2030: 20%

  • Defines clean energy to include nuclear generation, carbon capture and sequestration, energy efficiency or demand response programs.
    Tabled by a vote of 56-39, 14 June.
    SA 1539 Akaka, Murkowski, Snowe Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Promotion. development of power generation from waves, tides and currents.
    SA 1540 Carper, Biden Study of Offshore Wind Resources. 
    SA 1541 Smith, Cantwell, Murkowski, Wyden National Ocean Energy Research Centers.
    SA 1542 Brownback Agricultural Byproduct Use Exposition. A trade-show for new products, such as plastics, carpets, disposable dishes, and cosmetics, produced by the entities from agricultural byproducts.
    SA 1543 Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Salazar GEM Flex-Fuel Vehicle. Expands definition of flex-fuel vehicle to include M85 (85% methanol, 15% gasoline). Gasoline-E85-M85 = GEM.
    SA 1544 Casey Energy Security and Corporate Accountability Act of 2007. Targeted at oil companies.
    SA 1545 Enzi Some escape clauses for the Renewable Fuels Standard. (Drives price of food up, impacts deliverability of goods, etc.)
    SA 1546 DeMint Limitations on legislation that would drive up average fuel price for autos.
    SA 1547
    SA 1586
    Tester, Bingaman, Reid, Murkowski, Stevens, Salazar, Akaka, Sanders, Snowe National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007. Declares a national goal to achieve at least 15% of total electrical energy production in the United States from geothermal resources by not later than 2030. Establishes an initiative to achieve that goal. $515 million from 2008 through 2012; sums as necessary 2013 through 2030.
    SA 1548 Durbin Legislative branch fleet compliance with the efficiency sections of the bill.
    SA 1549 Kohl, Feingold, Burr Use of highly energy-efficient commercial water heating equipment in Federal buildings.
    SA 1550 Wyden, Chambliss Weighing Intelligence for Smarter Energy Act of 2007. Director of National Intelligence to submit to Congress a report on the long-term energy security of the United States.
    SA 1551 Cantwell Federal Standby Power Standard.
    SA 1556 Lincoln, Domenici, Pryor, Craig, and Landrieu Clarifies regulatory scheme for the application, transportation, or storage of livestock manure or poultry litter as energy or fuel production feedstock.
    SA 1557 Klobuchar, Snowe, Bingaman National Greenhouse Gas Registry. Establishes a national greenhouse gas registry.
    SA 1558 Obama Health Care for Hybrids. Federal government will reimburse automakers up to 10% of the total health care costs for retired autoworkers, with the caveat that at least 50% of the reimbursement is put research, development production and worker retraining for fuel-efficient vehicles. Program ends in 2017.
    SA 1559 Hagel Energy-related Regulatory Reform.
    SA 1560 Hagel Tax incentives for the production and conservation of energy. Includes special measures for cellulosic ethanol plants, ethanol pipelines, and coal-to-liquids facilities.
    SA 1561 Kohl Establishes a Strategic Refinery Reserve. Refinery reserve represents excess production capacity that can be used in emergencies. Reserve refineries can be new or reopened closed refineries.


    Proposed Amendments to Senate Energy Bill (amended H.R.6) 14 June 07
    Amendment Sponsor(s) Title and/or notes
    SA 1562 Dorgan and Craig Domestic Offshore Energy Security Act.
  • Opens up travel to Cuba in connection with hydrocarbon exploration and extraction.
  • Expands the area for offshore oil and gas development, moving the limit to 45 miles from the coasts of Florida.
  • SA 1563 Dorgan, Craig and Kerry Support for installation of E85 pumps at retail stations.
    SA 1564 Tester Energy-Efficient Schools. Establishes a program to improve the energy-efficiency of, and use of renewable energy in, school buildings.
    SA 1566 Warner Authorizes governor of Virginia to petition for offshore gas exploration and extraction 50 miles off the coast.
    Rejected by Yea-Nay vote of 43-44, 14 June.
    SA 1567 Bingaman and Domenici Demonstration program for cost-effectiveness of advanced insulation.
    SA 1568 Bingaman and Domenici Coordination of planned outages of refineries.
    SA 1569 Bingaman and Domenici Amends technical criteria for proposed Clean Coal Power Initiative.
    SA 1570 Inhofe, Thune and Craig Pollution audits and reports. Requires detailed bi-annual audit of any funds of more than $100,000 disbursed by National Pollution Funds Center.
    SA 1571 Hagel Facilitate information sharing about and accelerate development of energy-related research.
    SA 1572 Salazar, Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Cantwell, Lincoln, Clinton, Biden, Klobuchar, Durbin Electric-Drive Transportation Program. Promotes the development of plug-in electric vehicles, deploying near-term programs to electrify the transportation sector, and including electric drive vehicles in the fleet purchasing programs.
    Agreed to by voice vote, 14 June.
    SA 1573 Bingaman, Klobuchar, Reid, Cardin, Salazar Amendment to amendment SA 1537 (Renewable Portfolio Standard).
    SA 1574 Lautenberg Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Establishes a Federal Emissions Inventory Office within the EPA.
    SA 1575 Voinovich, Carper and Inhofe Amends loan guarantee authority for commercial technology.
    SA 1576 Inhofe Program to accelerate use of geothermal heat pumps at General Services Administration facilities.
    SA 1577 Martinez Establishes a number of penalties and sanctions applied to persons who contribute to Cuba’s development of the undersea hydrocarbon resources off of its north coast.
    SA 1578 Menendez, Lautenberg and Dole Modifies amendment SA 1566 to require consent by states within 100 miles of the coastal waters of Virginia.
    Withdrawn, based on rejection of SA 1566.
    SA 1579 Obama National Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. Establishes a full lifecycle-based low-carbon fuel standard requiring reduction in average lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy of the aggregate quantity of fuels:
  • 5% reduction from baseline by calendar year 2015
  • 10% reduction from baseline by 2020
  • Reductions post 2021 are on a five-year basis and progressively lower than, but not higher than, previous years.
  • SA 1580 Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Salazar Adds methanol to listing of renewable fuels.
    SA 1581
    SA 1607
    Gregg, Feinstein, Sununu, Kyl, Ensign Elimination of ethanol tariff.
    SA 1582 Martinez Encourages biofuel blenders to share credits with pipeline and common storage facilities.
    SA 1583 Martinez Accelerates waiver procedure for fuel blends.
    SA 1584 Martinez Categorization of certain blends of gasoline of not more than 3.7% oxygen, by weight, such that the gasoline is equivalent to E-10 gasoline.
    SA 1585 Lautenberg and Menendez State liability for costs incurred by other States as a result of oil or natural gas spill from offshore production.
    SA 1587 Brown Renewable Energy Innovation Manufacturing Partnership Program. Makes grants to eligible entities for use in carrying out research, development, and demonstration relating to the manufacturing of renewable energy technologies.
    SA 1588 Brown Development of a carbon labelling system for goods sold in the US.
    SA 1589 Brown Directs DOE to give financial assistance preference to higher-education for-profit partnerships involved in the development of liquid crystal, photovoltaic, and wind technologies.
    SA 1590 Brown Adds “institutions of higher education, and nonprofit hospitals” to local government buildings for receiving assistance.
    SA 1591 Brown Preference given to existing and former DOE facilities and sites for the conduct of projects and activities.
    SA 1592 Brown Emissions standards for watercraft and small spark-ignition engines.
    SA 1593 Isakson Amendment to alternative average fuel economy standard for low-volume manufacturers and new entrants.
    SA 1594 Durbin Study of establishment of a refined petroleum product reserve.
    SA 1595 Kohl Set asides for auto- and component-makers employing less than 500 people.
    SA 1596 Kohl Study of adequacy of refining infrastructure.
    SA 1597 Inouye and Dorgan Study of the adequacy of transportation of domestically-produced renewable fuel by railroads and other means of transportation.
    SA 1598 Inhofe Adds Gas-to-Liquids and Coal-to-Liquids to renewable fuels standard.
    SA 1599 Inhofe Study on modernization of the hydrocarbon reserves disclosures classification system of the Commission to reflect advances in reserves recovery from nontraditional sources (such as deep water, oil shale, tar sands, and renewable reserves for cellulosic biofuels feedstocks).
    SA 1600 Inhofe Evaluation of Fischer-Tropsch Transportation Fuels. Originally part of SA 1505, which was rejected.
  • Research and demonstration program to evaluate the air quality benefits of ultra-clean Fischer-Tropsch transportation fuel, including diesel and jet fuel;
  • Evaluate the use of Fischer-Tropsch transportation fuel as a mechanism for reducing engine exhaust emissions;
  • Submit to Congress recommendations on the most effective uses and associated benefits of those fuels with respect to reducing public exposure to exhaust emissions.
  • SA 1601 Inhofe Enables sale of additional credits by the Federal government to refineries, blenders, and importers at a price of $1.00 per gallon of gasoline equivalent to meet obligations under the renewable fuels standard.
    SA 1602 Inhofe Transitional assistance for farmers who plant dedicated energy crops for a local cellulosic ethanol facility.
    SA 1603 Brown Amends performance goals for Federal government:
  • 20% reduction in petroleum use by 2015 (2005 baseline)
  • 10% per year increase in use of alternative fuels by 2015 (2005 baseline)
  • Fleet shall be 15% hybrid or flex-fuel by 2015 and 20% by 2020
  • SA 1604 Schumer Updates state building energy efficiency codes and standards.
    SA 1605 Schumer State requirements for energy efficiency.
    SA 1606 Schumer In the absence of Federal determination or a standard for energy-efficiency of an appliance, no State standard to be pre-empted.
    SA 1608 Corker Expands definition of clean fuel:
  • not derived from crude oil
  • as compared to conventional gasoline, lifecycle emission reductions of 2 or more air pollutants
  • a 20% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional gasoline
  • SA 1609 Thune Report on electric transmission corridors.



    There's an old saying comparing law to sausage. You don't want to watch either being made.


    Cervus alludes to the body parts, fat and pork making up this legislation. But the definition offered of "clean energy" is beyond comprehension.

    "clean energy being defined as including nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, efficient, and efficiency and demand programs."

    Where in even the wilds of metaphorical speculation does carbon capture and sequestration produce energy? "Efficient and efficiency and demand programs"?? These law makers need to focus of freeing information and materials necessary to jumpstart alternative technologies and less time on capturing and sequestering the elemental building blocks of life on Earth.

    Carbon, dear legislators is not the enemy. Ignorance is.

    Lou Grinzo

    I agree that the legislators tend to take a very expansive view of these things, but I would definitely include efficiency programs in the mix. We need to use less fossil fuel and emit less CO2, and one surefire way to do that is to develop and adopt more energy efficient ways to do lighting, climate control, and transportation, among others.


    While carbon capture would be an improvement, it needs to be understood that it would reduce efficiency from 25 to 40 percent. Even under full sequestration, the CO2 emission factor of a "clean" coal plant would be about 220 to 260 grams per kw hour--- ten times higher than emission factors for wind, hydro, or nuclear energy.

    And all of the above assumes that CO2 sequestration is feabile and that the CO2 can be sequestered indefinitely, perhaps a more daunting task than storing nuclear wastes.

    For the foreseeable future, we need to maintain baseload generation to support wind and solar. I don't see any alternative other than nuclear.

    The payback from conservation programs will continue to generally be higher than the payback from fossil or alternative energy programs. So, I can think it is perfectly appropriate to include conservation and efficiency under the definition of renewable fuel. Semantically, it may be a problem, but the important thing is results, not whether the legislation is semantically correct.


    "reduce efficiency from 25 to 40 percent"

    tom: do you have a source for that?


    'Some 100 amendments to the energy bill under deliberation in the Senate emerged'

    the rats are getting on the ship.


    What a mess. The biggest dog is probably SA 1598: "Adds Gas-to-Liquids and Coal-to-Liquids to renewable fuels standard."

    How does converting a fossil fuel from one state to another make it renewable?


    As always people fail to see WHY thepower companies and many govs realy love clean coal.

    Sequestration isnt the big issue many think as all it does is capture the co2 and liquify it and transport it to be used by the oil companies instead of water to keep well pressure up.

    Its not a huge deal in the long run it just needs some serious help early on to get it up NOW. And concidering us china and india all depend on coal....

    ALSO a huge but little know fact.. clean coal allows use of brown and green coals.. far far more common then the cleaner black coal burned now.

    Also part of thisis about co2 and a larger portion is about energy independance.. thus things you dont like are important to cut imports and keep us from having to blow up even more people.



    This is from a letter to World Watch, July/August 2007 from Luc Gagnon, senior advisor on Climate Change for the electric utility Hydro-Quebec. Seems like a credible source, although I don't have a detailed study.

    In any event, it is clear that the process does use energy -- how much will, I'm sure, be a matter of debate.

    To store the volumes we are talking about will be a big deal. Carbon content is 70-80 percent of coal. Try storing that on a worldwide basis.

    While sequestration may be worthwhile, as usual, it will be an excuse to build coal plants like crazy, conservation and renewable energy be damned.

    Also, Mr. Gagnon states that carbon capture will be 85%, not 100%.

    And, of course, ccs is still in the R&D stage. In the mean time, those coal plants continue to get built without it, the vast majority of which will not be ccs ready.

    Every time we think we have discovered the latest silver bullet, we find that it is made of lead, or perhaps, carbon.


    I'm curious. Maybe someone can point out what part of the United States Constitution gives Congress the authority to legislate these types of regulations. In fact, the last time I checked, the 10th Amendment specifically forbids this type of activity by Congress.

    To paraphrase poster gr: "Carbon, dear legislators is not the enemy. Ignorance (of the Constitution)is."


    I'm curious. Maybe someone can point out what part of the United States Constitution gives Congress the authority to legislate these types of regulations.

    I can. Section 8, paragraph 3.

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    The raw materials are often mined on Federal land, they are carried across state lines on Federal infrastructure, and emit pollutants that cross state lines.

    Section 8, paragraph 3 my friend. It's a slam dunk.


    The energy bill that was passed in 2005 was in the wings since 2001, but no one would consider it, because it was such a blatant give away to the energy companies. Remember the VPs energy meeting that was kept secret?

    The 2005 energy bill was made less of a give away, but still had to do with production and drilling. Now they are considering consumption and sustainability.

    We seesaw back and forth in this country when we should be striving for a consistent policy that bridges the various administrations.

    Kit P.

    GCG, the VP did not hold secret meetings with CEOs of energy companies. The meetings were well publicized although notes were not published. The results were published in May of 2001, it is titled THE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY.

    The 2005 Energy Bill was a very comprehensive and excellent piece of legislation. It is obvious GCG did not read any of it.


    of these amendments which ones were passed?


    I cant believe it is taking so long to see meaningful legislationg coming from congress or the senate regarding these vital issues, that should have been dealt with over 20 years ago. the time for environmental leadership is now. gas prices are above record highs, we are using and consuming more oil than ever. I think we need to pass many of the above mentioned recomendations plus the sanders boxer global warming bill, that is the only way we can start saving billions at the gas pump, switch to a sustainable fuel and economy and possibly be the free nation we claim to be. hopefully these proposals dont linger in congress for too long.

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