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US Energy Bill

Energy Tax Breaks Total $14.5 Billion

Justin Blum, Washington Post
Some Lawmakers Wanted More Support for Efficiency, Alternative Sources
Congressional negotiators completed work yesterday on a $14.5 billion package of tax breaks as part of a major energy bill that provides far less support for alternative energy and efficiency than many lawmakers had urged.

The tax package — negotiated behind closed doors by lawmakers — would award 58 percentof the total benefit over 10 years to traditional energy industries, including oil, natural gas, coal, electric utilities and nuclear power. About 36 percent of the total would go for renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency and cleaner-burning vehicles. The Senate had sought considerably more in tax incentives for conservation and alternative sources of energy in its version of the energy bill approved last month.
(28 July 2005)

E.P.A. Holds Back Report on Car Fuel Efficiency

Danny Hakim, NY Times
DETROIT, July 27 – With Congress poised for a final vote on the energy bill, the Environmental Protection Agency made an 11th-hour decision Tuesday to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy.

But a copy of the report, embargoed for publication Wednesday, was sent to The New York Times by a member of the E.P.A. communications staff just minutes before the decision was made to delay it until next week. The contents of the report show that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980’s.

Releasing the report this week would have been inopportune for the Bush administration, its critics said, because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation six years in the making. The bill, as it stands, largely ignores auto mileage regulations.
(28 July 2005)
The NY Times has made available the text of the embargoed E.P.A. Report.

Five-year negotiations lead to modest energy bill

Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor
It covers oilfields, the power grid, and daylight savings time.
Like most heavily compromised legislation, the comprehensive energy bill agreed to this week by the House and Senate and headed for a presidential signature is as notable for what it doesn’t do as for what it accomplishes.
(28 July 2005)

Energy Deficient

Editorial, Washington Post
HERE’S THE NICEST thing that we can say about the comprehensive energy bill that the House and Senate are due to take up, and will probably pass, before they leave town at the end of this week: It could have been a lot worse.
(28 July 2005)

Energy Shortage

Editorial, NY Times
The energy bill that has been six years in the making and is nearing the president’s desk is not the unrelieved disaster some environmentalists make it out to be. But to say, as President Bush undoubtedly will, that it will swiftly move this country to a cleaner, more secure energy future is nonsense. The bill, approved by a House-Senate conference early Tuesday morning, does not take the bold steps necessary to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and it also fails to address the looming problem of global warming
(28 July 2005)

An inefficient energy policy

Editorial, SF Chronicle
THE ENERGY bill making its way through Congress this week is notable for what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t end this nation’s dependence on foreign oil. And it doesn’t end the oil and gas industry’s reliance on generous tax breaks from the federal government.

The version on the brink of final passage in the House and Senate this week fails to include what should have been the central element of a genuine federal energy policy: A required increase in fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. But the domestic auto industry successfully lobbied against higher mileage standards.

So the result was an energy bill with an undue emphasis on costlier ways to narrow the gap between fuel supplies and this nation’s voracious consumption. At the moment, the United States imports 58 percent of the oil it uses, a figure expected to rise to 68 percent by 2025. This “national energy policy” would slightly slow that rate of growth.

At the same time, it is loaded with goodies for various energy industries. The nuclear industry’s benefits include $2 billion in “risk insurance” for any permitting or regulatory delays in building power plants; the coal industry gets loan guarantees and $2.9 billion in tax breaks to develop cleaner coal; agriculture gets a requirement for refineries to double the use of ethanol; oil and gas producers get $1.5 billion in tax breaks. The list goes on and on.
(28 July 2005)

Energy prices: playing with time

Editorial, Portland Oregonian
Messing with daylight-saving time and doling out the subsidies won’t reduce dependence on foreign oil
It’s a perfect way to describe the nation’s energy policy today. As a major energy bill headed for passage this week in Congress shows, the cycle is familiar enough to seem almost natural.

First, someone pushes national initiatives to improve fuel efficiency, conserve energy and invest in renewable sources of power. That’s the spring ahead.

Then comes the fall back. Congress stages a depressing retreat, ditching the most meaningful conservation measures and embracing old-fashioned subsidies that fail to reverse U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Congress should do better. National security and the economy depend on it.
(28 July 2005)