Whitehouse Votes to Pass Clean Energy Act of 2007

The bad news is that large chunks of icebergs in the Antarctic are breaking off and starting to float away. The good news is the US government is finally paying attention to global warming, at least in some limited, lukewarm way. But it’s a start. From the Environmental News Service:

WASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2007 (ENS) – The U.S. Senate passed energy legislation late Thursday night that mandates a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards by 2020 and calls for a massive expansion of renewable fuels production. But the final bill is far less ambitious than Democrats had originally hoped for, as Republicans successfully derailed a plan that would have funded $32 billion in renewable energy tax breaks by increasing taxes on oil companies and blocked a measure requiring utilities generate more electricity from renewable sources.

The vote, 65-27, came after more than a week of intense debate that demonstrated deep partisan and regional divides over the nation’s energy future, as well as the pervasive lobbying power of electric utilities, auto manufacturers and the oil industry.

The White House has voiced concern over the mandated increase in fuel economy and threatened a veto because of language in the bill imposing stricter penalties on oil companies for price gouging.

The House is also working on energy legislation, with the goal of considering a bill after the July 4th recess, but has thus far avoided tackling the fuel economy question.

Fuel economy is a tricky political issue for U.S. lawmakers, and the Senate bill only passed after a compromise was reached over the fuel efficiency provision. The original language called for raising standards to 35 miles per gallon, mpg, by 2020, with four percent annual increases from 2021 to 2030.

Current standards require automakers to meet an average of 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 for sport utility vehicles and small trucks. Other than a very small increase in requirements for SUVs and trucks, the standards have not changed in two decades.

The compromise eliminated the mandated annual increases, instead calling on federal regulators to increase the standards “at a maximum feasible rate.”

“Our message to the domestic auto industry is, ‘You can do this,'” said Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. [full text]

They can, but they won’t. The auto industry continues to effectively avoid the full-scale shift to alternative energy fuels for cars. It’s a sad case of how corporate influence limits the ability for innovation and expansion into alternative resources. For more on this, I refer you to a movie that David posted a while ago called, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

Regarding the passage of the Clean Energy Act, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse provided the following statement:

“Last night, the Senate took a dramatic step toward reducing our reliance on foreign oil, conserving more of the energy we use in our homes, cars, and businesses, and investing in new technologies that will help in the fight against global warming.

“Our energy bill will require more of our energy to come from sustainably-produced biofuels; raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks for the first time since 1975; incentivize the production of fuel-efficient vehicles; create new standards for appliances and lighting to help conserve electricity; and take a closer look at ways to trap carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere. It will save tens of billions of dollars for American families.

“I was especially proud to support legislation, which passed as part of the energy bill last night, that will make the federal government a leader in energy-efficient, environmentally-sound building standards. Buildings that use less energy, and keep our air and water cleaner, will help preserve our environment, save taxpayers’ money – and take us one step closer to curbing the threat of global warming.

“To keep our economy strong and our people and environment healthy, we must lead the world in finding innovative ways to produce and use energy. This bill moves us closer to that goal.�

2 thoughts on “Whitehouse Votes to Pass Clean Energy Act of 2007

  1. Exactly right. The so-called “energy bill” is a cave-in to Unions, who pressure Dems, and the oil companies, who bribe or compensate Republicans.

    Ten years ago we could have gone essentially “oil-free” with plug-in Electric cars (such as our Toyota RAV4-EV, but there are thousands of other potential plug-in cars that Detroit never built). Where do we get the electric? Well, even a smallish solar rooftop system can produce more electric power than needed for driving an Electric car. But there’s loads of off-peak capacity in the electric grid, more than enough to charge up all our cars, if they could plug in.

    An EV goes up to 200 miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, 35 kWh, up to 20 times as efficient as a gas or diesel car. And, without the smog checks, oil changes, gasoline stations, refinery pollution, oil spills, oil pumps, oil pipelines, oil exploration, oil wars, overseas oil dictators, oil company invluence, etc.

    Freeing ourselves from the tyranny of the oil companies is easy, if we only could get rid of the tame politicians, lying union bosses, and defeatist Democrats.

  2. I suggest that the issues surrounding the “energy” situation is so clouded by crass politicians and special interest pleadings that making sense of needs and resources becomes difficult. Separating out the critial elements is a process badly needed, but not likely to happen. There really is no “energy shortage” ( and by this I mean a lack of resources or difficulty in delivery). There is more than enough oil around to satisfy demand for everyone in the world. The problem is “the everyone” part of the equation. The world’s economic picture has shifted toward the demand side and the 1.4 billion in China, the 1.2 billion in India, etc., etc., all want what the exploding (300 million-plus) in the U.S. wants: the “good life” of cars, clothes and entertainment. Our Middle Eastern “friends” control the oil spigots and while it costs them pehaps $3 a barrel to get the oil, they sell it for $60 or $70 because of the world demand. They will produce just enough to meet demand (approximately). We can be free of this reliance on oir Middle Eastern “friends” by doing some basic geological things, the kind of geology we have done well for 100 years: go find more and drill. There is more, but folks in Congress seem to lack the will that could substitute for the common sense they should demonstrate. So, we will allow the Chinese to drill in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, but our companies cannot. We will not poke around Long Island Sound or the Jersey coast, or in any of 1000 other potential fields. Moreover, we will nor issue permits to nuclear plants, or look at tar sands and oils shales. There is a demonstrated reserve of oil in tar sands and oil shales for perhaps, 500 to 700 years of oil production at current use! The most bizarre perspective of course was demonstrated by Mr. Kennedy, when he and his clan (those still out of jail or unindicted for a myriad of non-energy offenses), protested against wind energy developments that would spoil their sailing views!
    There is energy, there is no will to work out a reasonable solution.

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