Senate Energy Bill: Done

from Wildlife Promise

Yesterday afternoon the Senate voted to end debate on the energy bill, and then after a couple more hours of debate (huh?), but no important votes, the Senate passed the energy bill shortly after midnight. In the end, we support this bill because it includes a few good things (a 35 mpg by 2020 fuel economy standard, support for biofuels with some environmental safeguards), and nothing we oppose. But the story of this bill is as much about what it didn’t include, as what it did.

Below is a quick rundown on votes and issues NWF cared about on this bill:

VOTES:

  • An Inhofe amendment to build more oil refineries. We opposed (but didn’t focus on). Defeated  52-43.
  • A Domenici amendment to include nuclear power as a “renewable,” and procided opt-outs of a renewable energy standard. We opposed. Defeated 56-39.
  • A Bunning Coal to Liquid (CTL) amendment requiring liquid coal production. We opposed. Defeated 55-39.
  • Cloture vote (vote to end debate) on the energy bill, which ended up serving as the vote on the energy bill. We supported. Passed 61-32.

ISSUES:

  • Renewable Energy: Nothing was included in the bill. This is our biggest disappointment, and really shows how far behind the Senate is in the global warming and clean energy movement. The American public overwhelmingly supports renewable energy, but the Senate couldn’t even bring a good proposal to the floor to be voted on. A real loss for the Senate, our country and our environment.
  • Fuel Economy: For the first time since the 1970′s, Congress has raised the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks, to 35 mpg by 2020. This will result in a huge decrease in global warming pollution over the next 12 years. An amendment offered by Sen. Levin to weaken this did not reach the floor.
  • Liquid Coal: Development of liquid coal was not included in the bill. Two votes occurred to include liquid coal production – one terrible, the other we could live with but did not support – both failed.
  • Biofuels: The bill included provisions for next generation biofuels and includes some – but not all – the environmental safeguards and requirements we want. We are optimistic about getting these safeguards when the bill is conferenced with a House version.
  • Tax incentive for Renewable Energy: Again, nothing included in the bill; and in the end there wasn’t even an up or down vote on this. Another big disappointment.

We now wait and see if the President will veto as threatened, and how this energy bill will get conferenced together with a House bill.