Carper Votes for Senate Energy Bill

WASHINGTON (June 28, 2005) – Saying the bill would increase the use of renewable fuels, encourage the production of more hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles, and ensure that we get more electricity from cleaner-energy sources, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today joined 84 of his colleagues in approving comprehensive energy legislation. Although disappointed that the bill failed to address global warming or require better gas-mileage standards for cars, Carper said the bill, which passed on an 85-12, puts the United States on the “right track” to a cleaner and “greener” fuel supply. “If we’re to decrease our reliance on foreign oil, we need to find more ways to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable fuels. For the most part, this bill puts us on the right track,” said Carper. “It will encourage greater energy conservation, increase our production and use of renewable fuels and provide important tax incentives to develop the next generation of clean-burning cars and other energy-efficient vehicles and appliances.” Specifically, Carper praised the inclusion of a new biofuels mandate, which he said would directly benefit Delaware’s farming community. The bill would require the nation to produce 8 billion gallons of biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, by 2012 – nearly double the current federal mandate. The legislation also renews valuable tax credits on biofuels to make them more affordable at the pump. “We’ve got a rich energy supply right here in our backyards – corn and soybeans,” said Carper. “By doubling our production of ethanol and biodiesel, we can drive up the market for the new biodiesel refinery in Clayton. Delmarva farmers will benefit because their products will be in greater demand. And the environment will be better off because we’ll be using cleaner fuels, rather than traditional oil and gas.” In addition to the new biofuels mandate, the Senate also adopted an amendment, offered by Carper and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, that would help reduce pollution from diesel engines. The Carper-Voinovich provision would authorize $1 billion over five years to establish a national grant and loan program to help states meet new clean-diesel standards recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. States could use the money to help retrofit old diesel engines with newer, clean-diesel technologies. Carper also praised various other aspects of the legislation, including: A new federal mandate that 10 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. $5.4 billion in tax incentives to produce more energy-efficient household appliances, as well as new hybrids and other clean-fuel vehicles. A federal loan guarantee program to encourage the design and deployment of innovative technologies, such as coal gasification, aimed at diversifying and increasing energy supply while protecting the environment. Carper noted his disappointment that the Senate failed to include provisions that would have sought to address global warming or establish new fuel-economy standards for automobiles. “Global warming is real, and I believe it’s time to act,” said Carper. “We can take small steps now to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases in order to avoid bigger problems later. If we don’t, our climate will get warmer, our sea levels will rise, and our descendants may be looking for beachfront property in Dover, not Rehoboth.” On the fuel-efficiency debate, Carper noted, “One way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to lessen demand for it, and one of the best ways to do that is to establish new fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles. Unfortunately, by not including new gas-mileage standards in the bill, we missed a great opportunity to go even further toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cutting pollution.” The Senate bill must now be married to a House version before it can become law. Carper said he hoped the final bill would look more like the Senate bill than the House bill, which did even less to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and included extraneous provisions designed to limit liability for MTBE manufacturers and roll back clean air standards. “We should send the president a clean energy bill – in all senses of the word,” said Carper. “I hope the final product includes Senate provisions to encourage development of clean-energy sources but doesn’t include extraneous provisions to benefit the oil and gas industry and hurt Delaware’s air quality. Otherwise, it will make it more difficult to pass much-needed comprehensive energy legislation this year.”