Latest Energy Bill Excludes Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards
- Latest Energy Bill Excludes Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards
Not a wise trade. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse
gases and hazardous ozone levels (at ground level) in the U.S..
Congress needs to include energy efficiency and conservation
incentives for all fuel burning sources in the energy bill, and not
For a proposal to encourage conservation, click on the following:
CONSERVE, NOW! to reduce GHG emissions
Congress lifts energy-efficiency goals
Appliance rules, tire campaign, voluntary industry action
By Stephanie I. Cohen, MarketWatch
July 19, 2005
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Consumers could see more energy savings
thanks to a proposal adopted by Congress on Tuesday calling for
tougher appliance standards, voluntary efficiency improvements by
industry, and extended daylight savings time.
But lawmakers shied away from including controversial policies that
would improve vehicle mileage or dramatically cut U.S. oil demand in
order to reach a compromise on one of several pieces of a broad
energy bill they are trying to iron out.
The efficiency measures negotiated by a group of lawmakers will be
part a broad energy bill that could hit the president's desk within
weeks. Other sections of the bill still being discussed include oil
and gas, coal, hydrogen, renewable energy, nuclear power, and tax
The efficiency compromise draws on separate versions of energy
legislation approved in the House and Senate earlier this year and
comes after four years of debate and failed attempts to cobble
together a bill both sides could agree on.
The final compromise garners support of energy efficiency
advocates. "We're certainly very pleased," said Lowell Ungar, policy
manager for the Alliance to Save Energy, adding that the
compromise "will result in significant energy savings" for consumers.
The proposal would require higher standards for an array of household
appliances. In some cases, lawmakers also proposed first-time
standards for commercial products currently without efficiency goals.
Products affected include commercial refrigerators, freezers, ice
makers, air conditioners, clothes washers, and ceiling fans.
It would also extend day light savings time by two months, which
means a majority of Americans would experience more daylight during
waking hours, in turn cutting electricity use. The proposal would
lead to daylight savings being observed from March through November
rather than April through October.
Additionally, the net energy savings of the bill may increase further
once lawmakers produce a final draft of the tax title of the bill
they are negotiating, which could contain a number of credits for
energy efficient homes and businesses.
Fuel economy, oil savings skipped
The compromise put forward on Tuesday excluded language contained in
the Senate-passed energy bill that would have required the president
to draft a plan to save 1 million barrels of oil a day.
But several senators said Tuesday the provision is still alive and
they are working to attach a version of the measure to the final
draft of the energy bill.
"It is our intention to offer it, or something else like it," said
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., the author of the Senate version.
Both House and Senate lawmakers negotiating the energy bill agreed on
Tuesday they would leave the efficiency section of the bill open to
additional amendments in the coming days as they try to reach a deal.
The U.S. imports roughly 58% of its oil supplies today and is
projected to use roughly 24.7 million barrels of oil a day by 2015,
up from an estimate of 20.9 million barrels a day in 2005, according
to the Energy Department.
The compromise reached on the energy efficiency provisions does not
call for an increase in fuel economy standards for new cars and
trucks -- an area where a jump in standards would achieve the
greatest oil savings, Ungar said, since the bulk of oil imported into
the U.S. goes into consumers' fuel tanks.
The one provision in the efficiency section that addresses vehicle
fuel economy would create a federal education program to help vehicle
owners purchase more energy efficient replacement tires for their
cars and trucks.
The efficiency proposal would also authorize the federal government
to sign up industrial businesses that use large amounts of energy to
produce goods for voluntary agreements to reduce the energy intensity
of their facilities.
The proposal would also provide $2.5 billion in funding for low-
income families to weatherize their homes. These funds allow
homeowners to improve the efficiency of boilers, furnaces, and
windows to reduce energy use.
The bill increases the federal funds available for low income homes
to pay their heating and cooling bills to $5.1 billion a year up from
Once the lawmakers finish negotiating a compromise on the other
sections of the energy bill, both chambers of Congress will vote on
the legislation. Lawmakers are trying to complete their work by
August to meet a deadline set by President Bush, who has made energy
policy a top agenda item.