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Senate Approves Energy Bill with CAFE and Larger Renewable Fuel Target

Detroit Free Press. The US Senate passed the energy bill by a vote of 86-8, keeping the new CAFE regulations and a mandate for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022, but shedding provisions for a $21.8 billion tax plan targeting major energy companies, the renewable power standard and new incentives for alternative technologies such as plug-in hybrids.

The bill now goes back to the House for approval. The White House said President Bush would sign the bill after House approval.

As part of the flurry of last-minute changes, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin attempted to squeeze in some help for Detroit automakers by inserting a statement asserting that Congress and federal auto safety regulators have the final say over fuel economy rules.

The new CAFE rules would set a 35 mpg average standard by 2020, the first adjustment by Congress in 32 years.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow was one of the eight votes against the final bill, criticizing the bill for eliminating several incentives aimed at helping the auto industry meet the new fuel economy standards, such as a $25 billion loan guarantee program for updating plants.

Senator Levin had suggested a change to the bill Wednesday to make any potential greenhouse gas regulations from EPA match the 35mpg standard, and said he had threatened to vote against the bill Thursday.

In the end, Levin settled for a statement from himself and Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii saying Congress meant for the bill to be the final word on fuel economy standards.

But later in the day, after criticism from environmental groups, Feinstein and Inouye submitted new remarks saying nothing in the bill was meant to limit the powers of EPA or states such as California to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.

Comments

gr

Progress. Not spectacular. Not enough to silence the naysayers. But progress.

"You can't always get whatcha want... But if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need."

Congrats to the US Senate for acting.

Nick

One can only hope that after the next election we'll have a Congress and President ready to revoke some of the giveaways to big oil and use the money to fund incentives for renewables, as envisioned in the original bill.

Elliot

They cut PHEV incentives? They couldn't just lessen them? It really seems like there's a group of powerful people trying to stand in the way of real remarkable progress while claiming that it's too hard.

If they keep PHEV's off the road then this BS will fly as the public can't see any evidence of their usefulness. 35mpg, and likely lower, stands as acceptable when it could easily be far higher with PHEV's closing in on 100mpg already. This doesn't slow global warming, it keeps things the way they are. It's a bandaid, and a lame one at that. Green vehicles keep the reputation of being minimalist with few options in size or performance, and therefore undesirable for the masses who won't be concerned until they're impressed.

The Senate caved to Bush's demands in every respect and then some. I hope the House puts the PHEV's back in and they can pass it in both houses with a veto-proof majority. Otherwise... I'll do nothing and sit here mad about it because it's all I can do. The fact that this bill passed the Senate with only those who saying it doesn't go far enough voting against it shows how weak it is.

stomv

They "had" to cut the PHEV incentives. Without the withdrawal of oil and gas co. benefits to the tune of billions of dollars, they had no way to pay for the PHEV incentives [and other measures]. The idea is called "pay go", where Congress doesn't add to the budget deficit. The GOP ignored it for six years, and the Dems are trying to bring it back with mixed success.

Jim G.

"Michigan Sen. Carl Levin attempted to squeeze in some help for Detroit automakers by inserting a statement asserting that Congress and federal auto safety regulators have the final say over fuel economy rules."

A dirty backhanded attack on emissions rules and California standards. Expect this language to be cited in future court cases.

GreyFlcn

These are no longer in the bill:
1. Renewable Electricity Standards
2. Tax Incentives for renewable electricity production
3. Tax Incentives for PHEVs
4. The removal of tax breaks for Oil companies

This is in the bill.
1. Practically makes it so that California can't regulate greenhouse emissions, even though they just won a court case saying they could.
2. Mandates for BioFuels, include a more than doubling of corn ethanol production (Which is already using 30% of our Corn supply)
3. Subsidies for Coal to Liqiuds
4. Subsidies for Gas to Liquids
5. Subsidies for Nuclear
6. Other stuff which I'm not aware of

_

And the only thing left in the bill is a CAFE program which is so small and slow that by the time we fully implement it, we'd be emitting just as much or more greenhouse gases than we are today.

“WRI Report: Current Fuel Economy Proposals Will Not Reduce Overall GHG Emissions from Cars and Light Trucks Over the Long Term”
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/12/wri-report-curr.html

Not to mention it still continues to include a CAFE loophole for flex fuel cars, and a class seperation for Cars and Trucks.


_


It's begining to feel like a bait and switch.

gr

Naw, it's not perfect and progress for those who don't get what they want is not progress at all. The HEV incentives are still in the House Bill - the Congress knows that these vehicles need tax credits to help launch them. The automakers welcome incentives to sell product.

FYI, this bill includes: the first federal residential and commercial tax credit for solar energy since 1982, the first-ever national renewable energy requirement on utilities and the first-ever federal policy to foster ocean and tidal energy technologies.

The ocean and tidal piece is significant as it provides opportunity to develop an entire new class of energy production - free of fossil fuels and carbon. But this all sounds too optimistic for GCC, I guess.

gr

GryFalc,

“WRI Report: Current Fuel Economy Proposals Will Not Reduce Overall GHG Emissions from Cars and Light Trucks Over the Long Term”
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/12/wri-report-curr.html

Take note of the financier of this WRI "study": Shell Oil Foundation and Catapillar Diesel Company.

GreyFlcn

==The HEV incentives are still in the Bill.
FYI, this bill includes: the first federal residential and commercial tax credit for solar energy since 1982, the first-ever national renewable energy requirement on utilities and the first-ever federal policy to foster ocean and tidal energy technologies.==

No it doesn't. The Senate gutted those parts of the bill. It's then going back to the House for confirmation of the gutting.


==Take note of the financier of this WRI "study": Shell Oil Foundation and Catapillar Diesel Company.==

Fair point. I'm just scared as hell that this bill is mandating all these biofuels, and other associated pork for dirty technologies.
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/12/13/72549/012
http://greyfalcon.net/zeiger

Not to mention it still continues to include a CAFE loophole for flex fuel cars, and a class seperation for Cars and Trucks.

Giving all these permanent mandates and pork to rather dirty technologies for only a meager reduction in MPG that will take 13 years to implement.

All in all, it just seems like a rather faustian bargain to me.

_

It was only tolerable in the house bill because it was getting all that otherwise gutted legistlation passed.

BT

""==Take note of the financier of this WRI "study": Shell Oil Foundation and Catapillar Diesel Company.==...Fair point.""

No, this is not anything like a "fair point". If you want to impugn the integrity of Lee Schipper or WRI - both some of the finest sources of reliable research in the country - you should use some better argument than ad hominem and association fallacy. These are bogus. Do your homework.

Kit P

“Subsidies for Nuclear”

GreyFlcn, I was really excited about the prospect of some great “Subsidies for Nuclear” but a lass life is full of disappointments.

I am happy to see that there is no national RPS since most states already have passed such laws, federal regulations would serve no purpose except to create more regulation. PTC were already enacted for renewable energy.

Tax Incentives for PHEVs would be silly since PHEVs are MIA. GreyFlcn can let me know when PHEV hit the market and why rich people should get a break on expensive cars with no environmental benefit.

Stan Peterson

Like I said earlier, when we discussed the House bill, the silly stuff would get killed; and the the better stuff would pass. But still, the real problem was faced and settled in the 2001, 2005 Energy legislation and the ITER funding of 2004.

This bill is all mostly symbolic and irrelevant, but it can't hurt too much and might even help.

The only true idiocy was the renewable power mandate malevolence, and that appears to be D-E-A-D. Hooray !

That idiotic subsidy, had it survived, would have disrupted all the realistic plans Utilities have to provide power to the people. Meanwhile they would be forced to sit around and contemplate solar power and belly button lint, with no way to order or build plants that actually generate the power that they need, or their regulators demand that they somehow supply.

All while they listen to effete pecksniffian snobs like Amory Lovins, cluck and criticize them about how easy it would be to do so.

But of course, the Philosopher King himself, never descends from his Delphic Colorado mausoleum. And never actually gets his hands dirty. Actually trying to implement his asinine prognostications. It might actually reveal the Colorado oracle to be a tin god with feet of clay, and a surplus of hot air,just like his ideas...

I would have liked the Bill to start phasing out the CARBite empire, and unifying regulation. The EPA is rapidly having all its rules come in to effect. Rules that match, the pollution rules that CARB has too hastily promulgated and then been forced to be delayed and delayed until technologically feasible. And almost match their delayed fervor, with the realistic implementation schedules of the EPA.

We could have done away with CARBite fuel cell tantrum. It would have been nice to thank them, give them all a gold watch, and then scrap CARB. Too bad. A lost opportunity. Maybe next time...

GreyFlcn

==GreyFlcn, I was really excited about the prospect of some great “Subsidies for Nuclear” but a lass life is full of disappointments.==

Nuclear is already a subsidies pig ;D
http://greyfalcon.net/h2nuke

Kit P

GreyFlcn's response is to link another GreyFlcn anti-nuke rant. GreyFlcn does not know what is in the current legislation because he did not bother to read it.

What the critics might do for a change is read what they are critiquing. Start by looking for what you want and see if either already exists or is provided for in this new legislation.

For example for the advocates of PHEV, Section 131 provides $450 million for development of PHEV. That amount is up from $200 million in Section 711 of the 2005 Energy Bill.

I am an advocate of biofuels. Since the we have already exceeded the mandate in the 2005 Energy Bill, why not increase it by a factor of three as we can see in Section 202 (i.e., ethanol increases from 5.0 billion gallons to 15.2 by 2012).

Van

Everyone knows the Cafe approach is a joke, fuel economy has actually decreased since 1986 will fully complying with the Cafe regulations, or more actually by slipping through the Cafe regulation loop holes.

Pay/Go is simply an excuse used to justify not doing what would improve mileage, putting more PHEV's on the road. In a total war scheme, cutting off the money supply to those who use terror would including spending for national security for PHEV's that could end our dependence of foreign oil.

But no, we can the same ol same ol from the mindless who would rather pay for foreign oil with the coin of the realm, the blood of our children.

Jim G.

Kit P.

So subsidies for PHEV's are bad because they help "rich people". But massive subsidies for coal and other "strategic unconventional fuels" is some sort of welfare to the poor.

"Most states" have RPS, so a federal standard would just "add regulation". Just which state RPS did you folks support when it was proposed?

What a tangled web we weave.

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