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.