Sen. Carper Helps Get Major Energy Bill Passed in Senate
Includes Carper Compromise To Make Cars and Trucks More Fuel Efficient Over 10 Years
Sweeping reforms in the nation’s energy policy, including increasing the efficiency of cars and trucks over the next 10 years, have passed the United States Senate and include several key provisions written and promoted by Delaware’s Tom Carper.
“The Senate has passed a far-reaching energy bill that increases the nation’s use of renewable fuels and, for the first time in three decades, significantly improves the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks sold in the United States,” said Sen. Carper (D-Del.) of H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. “At the end of the day, we passed an energy bill that meets our goals to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce emissions of harmful matter into the air and protect the competitiveness of our domestic auto industry.”
Late last week, a major, bipartisan compromise on fuel efficiency standards was forged by Sen. Carper and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that increases the fleet-wide average for all cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the United States by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years – or from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2020.The fuel economy increases for cars and light-duty trucks would:
· Save between 2.0 and 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, nearly the amount of oil imported today from the Persian Gulf.
· Achieve up to 18 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from anticipated levels, or the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road in one year.
· Save consumers $79-98 billion at the pump, based on a $3 gas price.
To help U.S. automakers meet these higher fuel standards, Sen. Carper also fought to include provisions in the energy bill to support research and development in batteries for plug-in hybrids; require the U.S. government to buy more hybrids, like the forthcoming Hybrid Dodge Durango and the Chrysler Aspen; and to set standards for renewable fuels. The provisions most closely tied to Sen. Carper’s efforts in committee and on the Senate floor are:
· Mirroring provisions in legislation introduced earlier this year with fellow Delaware Democrat Sen. Joe Biden, the energy bill now includes a Carper amendment that significantly increases government investments in new battery technology needed to operate electric vehicles and produce the next generation of "plug-in" hybrids.
It supports the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funding for battery research at national laboratories, universities and small businesses.
· Negotiated by Sen. Carper, another provision requires the U.S. government to ensure that, after 2009, 70 percent of the vehicles the federal government buys must be advanced technology vehicles. This includes hybrids, fuel cell cars and flexible fuel vehicles.
· A Carper-backed amendment in the final energy bill establishes national standards for biodiesel to promote the building and use of vehicles that run on biodiesel. This mirrored another initiative in the Biden-Carper bill to set a national standard for biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from natural and renewable sources.
· Sen. Carper also pushed for the inclusion of a new renewable fuels standard that require the President to ensure more renewable fuels are consumed for motor vehicles, home heating oil and boiler fuels — escalating from 8.5 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. This energy bill requires advanced biofuels like biodiesel, and biobutnol being developed by DuPont, increase from three billion gallons in 2006 to 21 billion gallons in 2022.
· Finally, in many coastal areas like Delaware, offshore wind is currently the only available and economically competitive “clean” renewable energy resource of substantial size. Sen. Carper had included in the final energy bill his amendment to authorize $5 million for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to fund a comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the offshore wind resource of the Eastern Outer Continental Shelf to provide MMS with the science-based tools to identify areas to build new wind energy generation projects. The Delaware Public Service Commission and three other state agencies are currently negotiating a purchase power agreement for what could be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. According to preliminary estimates by the University of Delaware, if the Delaware offshore wind resource was fully exploited, it would provide about twice the average electric power needs of the entire state.
“America needs to explore more opportunities to enhance our ability to generate energy from alternative sources, such as offshore wind,” concluded Sen. Carper, also chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. “Many believe offshore wind technology has the potential to meet and even exceed the entire East Coast’s current energy demand.”
This Senate energy legislation will now be considered by the House of Representatives, and any differences resolved before the President could consider a final energy bill later this year.