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  • Climate Change Goes Downtown
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    Friday, December 07, 2007


    The bill passed Thursday by the House was hailed by environmental groups and damned by the American Petroleum Institute.

    In closing House debate on the bill, Speaker Pelosi displayed a memento baseball and recalled a historic 1951 home run dubbed by sportswriters “the shot heard ‘round the world.” She then referenced the first “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington and Concord and finally called her energy bill yet another such “shot.” She glowingly described the “new economy” it will bring on, the national security it will provide and the responsible stewardship it represents.

    IF it gets out of the Senate intact. And IF the President signs it.

    (The 1951 "shot": The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! (click to enlarge)

    As it stands, it is indeed Speaker Pelosi’s bill. After the House and Senate passed different versions in the summer, she powered past the bipartisan conference process so as not to be entangled and sidetracked by minority tactics. Instead of allowing it to become ensnarled in a compromise process, she and a close-knit group fashioned legislation that included the most progressive aspects of both houses’ bills.

    She won in her House -- but now must sit back and watch the Senate dismantle her handiwork.

    Because of the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Reid would need 60 votes in favor of the bill to do what Pelosi did with her majority. He probably has between 50 and 55. He must, therefore, subject the bill to amendment by the Republican minority. If he does not end up with a compromise bill that both sides agree to, the minority can prevent a final vote by threatening to block debate.

    Reid: "I think there's a mindset of everyone here to do an energy bill. The question is what is in it."

    During Thursday’s floor debate, House Republicans made frequent resentful mention of Pelosi’s strong arm tactics. Senate Republicans will be able to do more. They will disassemble and reassemble her bill.

    Referring to the National Renewable Energy Standard (RES) requiring utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and to $21 billion in incentives and subsidies for New Energy and efficiency that include a shift of $13 billion in benefits away from fossil fuels, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said, "There are two highly contentious, well-publicized provisions…As the majority leader has indicated, hopefully we can get those problems removed from the energy bill next week and move toward a presidential signature."

    Pelosi’s "shot" may still turn out to be just a "pop" and a "fizzle".

    Citizens can address their responses to their Senators: VOTE SOLAR, POWER OF WIND and U.S. PIRG

    Highlights of the House energy bill

    December 6, 2007 (AP via Yahoo News)
    House passes energy bill but Bush set to veto
    Chris Baltimore (with Tom Doggett and Marguerita Choy), December 6, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News)
    Reid Wants Cloture Vote Friday On Divisive Energy Bill
    Siobhan Hughes, December 6, 2007 (Dow Jones via CNN Money)

    The bill passed the House, 235-181. YES: 221 Democrats, 14 Republicans; NO: 7 Democrats, 174 Republicans. USA Today published a detailed breakdown.
    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), Minority Leader, House Energy and Commerce Committee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)

    The 1775 "shot": The Battle of Lexington. (click to enlarge)

    Major provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act:
    1. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards: US automaker fleets of cars/light trucks/SUVs must average 35 mpg by 2020, a 40% increase.
    2. US must produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels/year by 2022, 7 times the present requirement. 2/3 must be from cellulosic sources (prairie grass, wood chips, etc.). Gives tax incentives for biofuels plants.
    3. $21 billion of tax incentives for renewables and efficiency, shifting $13.5 billion from incentives and subsidies to 5 major oil companies.
    4. A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requires privately owned utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, efficiency measures counting as much as 4%.
    5. Requirements for energy efficient appliances and energy efficiency federal/commercial buildings w/streamlined approvals for federal standards.
    6. Tax incentives for plug-in hybrid electric cars and tax credits for purchasers.

    The bill now moves to the Senate. Reid will hold a cloture vote December 7. Then there will be debate.

    Whatever is passed by the Senate will need the President’s signature to become law.

    - The bill is 1,055 pages.
    - All indications are that the RES must go and the funding for incentives and subsidies must go back to the fossil fuels industries for the bill to get out of the Senate.
    - The Democratic leaders who pushed the bill through the House say the new CAFÉ standards will in the long term cut oil consumption 1.1 million barrels/day and save $700-$1000/year in family fuel costs.
    - The Republicans call it a “no energy” bill because it does not incentivize the fossil fuel or nuclear energy industries.
    - The requirement of 2/3 of the biofuels to come from cellulosic (non food crop) sources is an effort to prevent the mandate from driving up corn and other food crop prices.

    click to enlarge

    - White House statement: "Their proposal would raise taxes and increase energy prices for Americans…That is a misguided approach and if it made it to the President's desk, he would veto it."
    - Reid: "If we can't get it all, we'll get part of it…"
    - Barton: "The Democratic majority's remarkably undemocratic process has produced a bill that harms more than it helps and has no chance of being signed into law…"
    - Sierra Club statement: “[The bill] will provide billions for clean energy instead of Big Oil's bottom line."
    - Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM): "The Senate should not be forced to accept a bill written by Speaker Pelosi behind closed doors with no input from the Senate…For that reason alone, senators should oppose this legislation and insist to be heard. I will do everything in my power to defeat this measure so we can get to work on a bipartisan bill that will tackle our problems, not add to them."


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