The timetable for House action on a sweeping energy bill appeared to be slipping Wednesday, as lawmakers attempted to nail down final details of the package.
The Rules Committee was still waiting to see exact language of the comprehensive measure (HR 6), casting doubt on whether the bill would reach the floor before Thursday.
Legislative aides said details still needed to be worked out on the measure’s tax provisions, which could require adjustment to cover a possible $1 billion shortfall in meeting pay-as-you-go budget rules.
Democratic leaders also were working to whip up votes for what is expected to be a close vote in the House, and to placate the White House, which earlier this week said it was considering a veto of the bill if it repeals subsidies for big oil companies and requires 15 percent of electricity produced by 2020 to come from renewable sources like wind and solar. . .
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she believed that the bill would win support from enough Blue Dogs to pass the House.
“It will have the support of some of them. I hope it will be enough,” she said.
But Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said Tuesday that he would not support the legislation because it would repeal tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
Another Blue Dog, Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said he had been told the floor vote on the bill would probably slip to Thursday.
The House of Representatives is planning to vote this afternoon on the energy bill compromise, following an emergency meeting of the House Rules Committee yesterday evening to allow for “consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 6) to reduce our Nation’s dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes.”
The morning part of the session was carried live on C-SPAN 2.
Sen. Bond’s chart from his opening statement:
Amendments adopted: Sanders low-carbon manufacturing incentives, Lautenberg decoupling incentives, Cardin good government.
Amendments rejected: Craig offramps, Inhofe auto-industry job offramp, Bond low-income family cost-relief, Isakson nuclear title, Voinovich available-tech offramp.
Amendment withdrawn: Carper multiple-pollutant title.
Tomorrow morning’s Environment and Public Works markup of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill (S. 2191) promises to be long and contentious, quite possibly to be extended to Thursday. Republicans have proposed over 150 amendments, with Sen. Craig offering 46; EE News reports they expect votes on upwards of 50 of the amendments. Democrats have submitted about 30 amendments.
Below is a summary of the amendments the senators of the committee are planning to submit, in addition to Sen. Boxer’s manager’s mark.
Major amendments include Sen. Clinton’s two amendments. The first establishes 100% auction of permits, and the second dramatically restricts CCS funding. Sanders #4 establishes an 80% target and #7 limits total offset permits. Vitter #10 restricts ownership of allowances primarily to covered entities. Carper #1 places caps on traditional air pollutants and Carper #2 bases permit giveaways to power sector on historical electricity production, not emissions. Isakson proposed various pro-nuclear amendments.
Friends of the Earth has highlighted five amendments they support.
As prefigured by John Dingell’s participation in the details of the CAFE component of the energy bill deal, the American auto industry is lending its support to the bill, a sharp reversal from its heavy lobbying against the standards in previous months.
Automakers, which have successfully blocked raising passenger car standards for more than two decades, objected to a 40 percent increase, saying it would cost them billions to comply and could force them to make fewer of their biggest, most profitable models.
But General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement Saturday that the Detroit automaker will meet the new challenge.
“There are tough, new CAFE standards contained in the energy bill before Congress that pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry,” Wagoner said. “But, it’s a challenge that GM is prepared to put forth its best effort to meet with an array of engineering, research and development resources. We will continue our aggressive pursuit of advance technologies that will deliver more products with more energy solutions to our customers.”
Toyota Motor Corp. praised congressional leaders for “taking this very important step toward establishing new, aggressive nationwide fuel economy standards.”
“Toyota will not wait for new standards to be set, but will move forward expeditiously to apply advanced technologies to improve the fuel economy of our fleet,” said Jo Cooper, Toyota’s vice president for government affairs in North America.
Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that represents Detroit’s Big Three, Toyota, Daimler AG and five other automakers, said “this tough, national fuel economy bill will be good for both consumers and energy security. We support its passage.” Mike Stanton, who is president and CEO and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that represents Toyota, Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., among others, expects his members to support the compromise. “We wanted Congress to act,” Stanton said in an interview. “It’s not perfect, but I think we’re going to be pleased.”
- CAFE Standard: Increase fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks
- Renewable Fuels Standard: Multiple-source domestic biofuels mandate with environmental safeguards
- Plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit and advanced vehicle incentives
- Repeal of $21 billion in tax subsidies for gas and oil companies (H.R. 6), international tax loophole closed, rollback of 2005 Energy Act tax breaks
- Renewable Electricity Standard: 15% by 2020 (4% may be efficiency)
- Efficiency Standards: new appliance and building standards
- Renewable Production Tax Credit and other incentives: extends existing PTC, funds renewable research, provides renewable energy bonds for power providers
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program
- Incentives for small business development of renewable energy technology
- Carbon Capture and Sequestration: R&D and clean coal incentives
Full details of the legislation are below the fold.
In a letter to Congress, White House economic advisor Allan Hubbard reiterated President Bush’s October 15 veto threat of the energy bill deal brokered by the Democratic leadership, leaving no room for compromise from the president’s demands.
On October 15, I wrote you to outline a basic framework for a bill that would not compel the President’s senior advisors to recommend a veto. Based on the limitd information we have received, it seems the provisions under discussion would not satisfy those criteria. In fact, it appears Congress may intend to produce a bill the President cannot sign.
The Administration continues to believe that all the elements described in my earlier letter constitute the appropriate framework for energy legislation. Press reports indicate that your draft energy bill would fail to meet at least some of these conditions, for example by including a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a title increasing taxes, or an expansion of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.
Further criticisms include the difference between the Congressional renewable fuels standard and the White House’s preferred “alternative fuels standard”, and not excluding the EPA’s Clean Air Act authority from CAFE regulation.
The full letter is available here.
On Saturday, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, challenged the energy bill deal brokered by the Democratic leadership, attacking the inclusion of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (also known as the renewable electricity standard).
For weeks, my staff, along with Senator Bingaman’s, has been engaged in good faith negotiations with the House under a defined set of parameters laid out at the start of the process. We have made substantial bipartisan progress toward finalizing a bill. The legislation we have been working on contained a robust, much-needed Renewable Fuels Standard, important provisions on energy efficiency and carbon sequestration, and a long overdue increase in fuel economy standards. The parameters agreed to by Speaker Pelosi and communicated to us by Senate Democrats did not include a renewable portfolio standard.Domenici complained particularly about what he saw as a lack of good faith.
At this time, I have instructed my staff to cease their work on the energy bill, since the final bill apparently will not be the product of our bipartisan negotiations. As someone who has been working for 35 years to forge bipartisan, good-faith compromises on tough issues like the federal budget and energy policy, I know that your word means everything. It is particularly disappointing for me to see that such a sentiment seems to be a thing of the past.
Sen. Domenici himself has failed to maintain such bipartisan compromises on this very bill. During the May committee markup of the Senate version of the energy bill (S. 1321, H.R. 6), Sen. Domenici failed to maintain a bipartisan deal to avoid controversial amendments during markup—Democrats had agreed not to introduce RPS in committee, and Domenici claimed Republicans would not introduce coal-to-liquids language. However, Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., introduced a coal-to-liquids amendment, breaking the deal.
On the first day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Kevin Rudd, the new prime minister of Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the United States and Kazakhstan the only signatories who have failed to ratify.
Rudd’s statement begins:
Today I have signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This is the first official act of the new Australian Government, demonstrating my Government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was considered and approved by the first Executive Council meeting of the Government this morning. The Governor-General has granted his approval for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at my request.
Under United Nations guidelines, ratification of the Kyoto Protocol enters into force 90 days after the Instrument of Ratification is received by the United Nations. Australia will become a full member of the Kyoto Protocol before the end of March 2008.
Achieving these reductions at the lowest cost to the economy, however, will require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action that begins in the near future.
The report was commissioned by the environmental organizations Environmental Defense and National Resources Defense Council and the energy technology companies Honeywell, National Grid, PG&E Corporation, Shell, and DTE Energy. The Conference Board, the leading U.S. corporate think tank, endorsed the paper.McKinsey found that a broad mix of abatement options need to be followed; no one strategy accounted for more than 11% of the total abatement, noting:
In regions with high-carbon grids, energy efficiency improvements, typically through upgrades to building standards, HVAC equipment, and appliances, are likely to be the most effective and lowest-cost strategies. Conversely, sectors and regions with access to low-carbon grid infrastructure offer more compelling applications of such emerging technologies as PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles).In its conclusion the report reiterated the importance of immediately implementing energy efficiency strategies, many of which end up saving more money than they cost, to “buy time” for emerging technologies to develop commercially.