Sweeping energy and conservation reform legislation has passed the Senate tonight.
This landmark, Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R. 6) includes increases in the fuel economy of cars and trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 -- a hard-fought compromise forged among environmentalists and the car companies with the help of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).
“This energy bill promotes energy independence, saves taxpayers money, protects the environment and provides for the American auto industry,” Sen. Carper said. “The CAFE increase will reduce our reliance on foreign oil, reduce the amount of pollution we put into the air, and accomplish their first two goals without harming the competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry. With the cooperation of the environmental, and auto industry workers and leaders alike, this legislation will increase for the first time in more than 20 years the fleet-wide average for all cars, trucks and SUVs from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.”
Major provisions of this final, compromise energy legislation will:
Promote Energy Independence:
- The United States consumes 21 million barrels of oil per day and imports 60 percent of its oil from overseas. This energy bill reverses U.S. dependence on foreign oil by enacting measures that collectively will save more than two million barrels of oil per day by 2020.
Enact new CAFE standards for cars, light trucks and SUVs:
- The Energy Bill increases fuel efficiency standards to require 35 mpg by the year 2020 – the first increase in more than 20 years. This will:
- 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.
Add new energy efficiency standards for products, appliances, lighting and buildings:
- By 2015, the new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs alone would save 65 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – the equivalent to the output of 24, new 500- megawatt power plants, and save consumers $6 billion per year.
Specifically to help Delaware and all U.S. automakers meet higher fuel standards, Sen. Carper fought to include provisions in the energy bill to support research and development in batteries for plug-in hybrids and to set standards for renewable fuels. The bill also provides flexibility to automakers in that each car company will meet a standard based on the types of cars it specializes in making.
Sen. Carper highlighted several provisions particularly important for Delaware that:
· Mirror legislation introduced earlier this year with fellow Delaware Democrat Sen. Joe Biden. The energy bill now includes language that reflects a Carper amendment to significantly increase government investments in new battery technology needed to operate electric vehicles and produce the next generation of "plug-in" hybrids.
· Include a Carper-backed amendment, similar to an earlier Biden-Carper bill to establish national standards for biodiesel to promote the building and use of vehicles that run on biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from natural and renewable sources.
· Increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to 9 billion gallons per year in 2008, and progressively increase that to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. This RFS provision would ensure the development advanced biofuels like biodiesel and biobutnol being developed by DuPont by increasing their use from three billion gallons in 2006 to 21 billion gallons in 2022.
· Promotes for many coastal areas like Delaware, offshore wind, 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. 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.”
Threatened earlier with a presidential veto, the bill does not include a renewable electricity provision that would have quadrupled production of renewable electricity, which Sen. Carper remains committed to continue pursuing. Sen. Carper urged quick House approval so the president can then sign this historic energy bill into law.