ENERGY BILL: AT LONG LAST – WHAT?
Ted Glick, coordinator, US Climate Emergency Council: "It's not that surprising that there's this resistance and we're not getting fully what we need…But the winds are shifting. This kind of energy bill makes it clear that they're shifting in the right direction."
It is not, however, clear how strong those shifting winds are. Speaker Pelosi seems to be stalwartly championing the national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. But Senate Republicans, buoyed despite their minority numbers by the filibuster rule necessitating 60 votes to get floor debate and a vote on any issue, seem staunchly determined to stand up for the Mega-Utilities (instead of ratepayers) and Big Oil, Big Coal and Nuclear (instead of New Energy).
Given Pelosi’s determination, it is very possible the RES could get through the House.
Back Pelosi: POWER OF WIND
In the Senate, compromises could be in the offing. Pro-nuclear Senators might come over to the New Energy side if a deal on emission-free energy were hammered out - but Senate Majority Leader Reid is opposed to the Yucca Mountain storage idea and probably is reluctant to go very far on nuclear.
Concessions allowing 4% of the RES-required 15% renewables to come from efficiency measures may appease some Senators who side with the utilities because they sincerely believe the utilities' claptrap about it not being possible to get the required New Energy. Concessions promising not to remove oil and gas industry tax protections might bring other Senators around. Mandates for larger ethanol and biofuels subsidies could bring over a few more.
There is no section of the US that is not rich in some form of New Energy. And the talent to develop it. (click to enlarge)
Senator Dick Durbin (D-ILL): "We're going to have to deal with the harsh reality of needing to find 60 votes in the Senate and producing a bill that the president will sign, so it's a balancing act…"
Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: "I don't think we can require utilities to do the impossible…I think too many people are tinkering with this bill. We had a good bill."
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn): "I do not want to see a renewable electricity standard…That is a terrible idea. I am very disappointed with what I am hearing from the House."
Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass), chairman of the Select Committee On Energy Independence and Global Warming: "[We are] in for a very tough, strong battle, but we're going to do our best to win it…similar renewable electricity standards have twice before passed in the Senate…and we think the standard is something that should be embraceable by 60 votes in the Senate."
Say that by some miraculous, Lyndon Johnson-style wheeling and dealing these measures do get through the Senate. For President Bush not to veto, the bill would have to have so much protection for the fossil fuels industries’ tax breaks and so much money for ethanol and biofuels incentives that there wouldn’t be much left to fund New Energy incentives like the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
Which Pelosi would not allow. So it is likely to be a bill Bush will veto. Which may be the point. 2008 is an election year. If Pelosi gets her RES: Win. If she doesn’t because Bush vetoes, rejecting the New Energy that an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican Americans want: Win.
(see POLL: 62% WANT NEW ENERGY )
The winds are shifting.
US House Dems Unveil Energy Bill With $21 Billion In Taxes
Siobhan Hughes and Ian Talley, December 4, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires via CNNMoney)
New US energy bill meets green lobby approval
Elana Schor, December 4, 2007 (UK Guardian Unlimited)
Congressional Democrats, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Environmentalists interviewed
House Democrats, having agreed last week on improved Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFÉ) standards requiring US auto fleets to get 35 mpg by 2020, are now in the process of resolving remaining contentious issues with Republicans in pending energy legislation. 3 chief areas of conflict remain: (1) the national RES; (2) the allocation of budgetary funds between incentives for the fossil fuels industries, the nuclear energy industry and New Energy industries; (3) a mandate for biofuels.
President Bush backs ethanol subsidies but the markets are proving it drives food prices up. (click to enlarge)
The bill is expected to come to up for debate today (Wednesday, December 5).
The House is expected to deal with the bill first. The Senate, where passage is complicated by the filibuster rule, will take up what the House passes.
- Pelosi has expressed strong intentions concerning the RES. Domenici seems equally adamant in opposition. Therefore, the House may pass it, as it did in July, only to have it fail in the Senate for lack of 60 votes to beat the filibuster, just as it did in June.
- There has been talk that Domenici could be won over by concessions regarding nuclear energy, for which he is a strong advocate. Should that happen, however, President Bush is expected to veto.
- There has been talk that President Bush might be swayed by concessions on biofuels and protections for incentives to the fossil fuel industries.
Pelosi is presently looking at shifting as much as $13 billion in fossil fuels industries tax benefits to New Energy incentives.
A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) would likely create enormous savings for ratepayers everywhere. (click to enlarge)
- Domenici: "The Speaker expects the Senate to discard a negotiated, bipartisan agreement in favour of her bill without amendment…That is no way to pass legislation and is another in a long list of reasons why Congress has lost the faith and trust of the American people."
- Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth: “[This energy bill] could mark a major step forward…The political reality is, these bills are about as good as we can get now…"
- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: "…in our view, a good energy bill would not establish a narrow, one-size-fits-all renewable portfolio standard, would not increase taxes, would not harm domestic oil and gas production - it should expand it."