WASHINGTON, DC (December 6, 2007) – The first energy bill to dramatically cut America’s oil dependence, increase the use of renewable energy, and protect natural resources passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 235-181. This bill is a dramatic shift from the Energy Bill of 2005, and puts us on the path to energy independence while also making a down payment to address America’s impact on global climate change, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“This is a huge win for the American people as Congress reaffirms its commitment to clean, independent American energy sources and addressing global climate change,” said Karen Wayland, legislative director at NRDC. “The House leaders who put this together are to be congratulated. Particularly noteworthy is the agreement on fuel efficiency standards as the cornerstone of the strongest and most forward-looking energy legislation our country has seen in 30 years.”
Measures included in the House energy bill package highlight growing momentum to raise fleet-wide mileage standards for vehicles last updated in the 1970s; invest in domestically produced and sustainable renewable fuels; and increase the energy efficiency of buildings, equipment and consumer products. Specific measures to take note of include:
Stronger Fuel Economy Standards to raise the averagefleet-wide standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This long-overdue improvement in gas mileage will save 1.2 million barrels of oil a day in 2020, save consumers nearly $40 billion at the pump, and cut global warming pollution by 200 million tons. The legislation also preserves EPA’s and California’s authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, upheld by the Supreme Court last April.
A Strong Renewable Electricity Standard to require utilities to produce15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, part of which can be met throughenergy efficiency savings. The bill cuts global warming emissions by 180 million tons per year by 2020, saves consumers more than $16 billion on their electric bills between now and 2030, and creates 50,000 new jobs.
Environmental Safeguards for a Renewable Fuel Standard that calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be brought to the market by 2022 – a five-fold increase over the current standard – including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels made from plant material such as grass and wood chips. Conventional biofuels must generate 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, and advanced and cellulosic fuels must generate 50 percent and 60 percent less, respectively. These targets help ensure that the renewable fuel standard would have a net-positive impact on climate, taking into account land conversion and full lifecycle impacts of ethanol production.
Energy Efficiency Standards. Efficiency isour cheapest and cleanest energy resource. The final bill sets historic efficiency standards for light bulbs, which would require typical bulbs to use 25-30 percent less energy by 2012-2014 and two times less energy by 2020. Experts say that the light bulb standards would reduce global warming pollution by 100 million metric tons, which works out to be about 1 percent of emissions produced by the United States in 2005. The bill adopts beneficial reforms to Department of Energy authority to issue energy efficiency standards for appliance and equipment products, and establishes new efficiency standards for products such as light bulbs, dishwashers, and clothes washers.
Clean Energy Tax Incentives and Fossil Fuel Tax Reform.The energy bill repeals billions in tax subsidies for Big Oil and invests this money in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. The bill includes tax incentives for energy-efficient commercial buildings, heating and cooling equipment, and super-efficient appliances. The bill also contains production/investment tax credits for renewable electricity and cellulosic biofuels. This initiative takes aggressive steps on carbon capture and sequestration, including large-volume sequestration tests in a variety of different geological formations.
No Subsidies for Liquid Coal or Loan Guarantees for Nuclear Power in the final package. The bill excludes energy technologies that pose significant environmental and financial risks, such as new nuclear plants and liquid coal projects. If these measures had been included, billions of tax dollars could have been wasted on mature, polluting technologies rather than innovative, clean ones.
“Now is the time and opportunity to invest in the new clean energy economy,” said Wayland. “This historic legislation will make America more energy independent, create thousands of new jobs, spark economic growth, save consumers money, cut pollution, and make real progress to reduce carbon emissions.”