Movement on Energy Bill Compromise 1
According to a report in the National Journal’s subscription-only Congress Daily, Congress is nearing a compromise to resolve the differences between the Senate (HR 6) and House (HR 3221) versions of the comprehensive energy package. Major sticking points have been CAFE standards, renewable fuels mandate, a federal renewable energy standard, and renewable energy tax incentives (the renewable production tax credit (PTC)).Speaker Pelosi indicated the sense of progress in a press release Monday:
Congress is now moving forward with historic energy legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and promote energy efficiency. We have made significant progress toward completing this package and hope to have a final agreement next week.
The draft compromise, according to Congress Daily and Hill Heat sources, incorporates suggestions from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)’s November 13 letter to Speaker Pelosi.CAFE
- By 2020, 35 mpg average standard for cars, light trucks and SUVs (in line with HR 6)
- Separate fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks
- Distinctions between domestic and foreign-made vehicles in standards
- By 2015, required production of 20.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels, with as much as 15 billion gallons coming from corn-based ethanol (HR 6 had 36 billion by 2022)
- By 2015, required production of 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels—fuel not derived from sugar or starch and that can cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in half
- National Academy of Sciences study within 18 months of mandate impact, followed by periodic reviews authorized by the Clean Air Act of technologies and the feasibility of complying with the mandate
- According to Hill Heat sources, the extension of the PTC is likely, though perhaps for as little as one year.
Deal Near On Fuel Efficiency, Renewables In Energy Bill
Negotiators have proposed scaling down a Senate renewable fuels mandate and are nearing a deal on raising fuel efficiency standards, sources said today. Under the deal being discussed, refiners would be required to produce 20.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2015, with as much as 15 billion gallons coming from corn-based ethanol, according to draft House language. The Senate-passed version would have required the production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. The draft would mandate that 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels – fuel not derived from sugar or starch and that can cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in half – must be produced by 2015. The draft plan might trigger limits starting in 2016 to further increases in renewable fuels production based on the impact renewable fuels production has on the environment, energy security, consumer prices and other factors. Critics – including refiners, livestock groups and grocery manufacturers – say the draft sets unreasonable production mandates. “We don’t think that the volumes that are called for in this draft have any basis in reality,” said an oil refinery lobbyist. It would require a National Academy of Sciences study within 18 months on the impact of the renewable fuels mandate followed by periodic reviews authorized by the Clean Air Act of technologies and the feasibility of complying with the mandate.
Negotiators are also close to a bipartisan deal raising the average standard for cars, light trucks and SUVs from 25 miles per gallon to 35 mpg by 2020, according to lobbyists following the talks. This would echo the Senate-approved plan. In a nod to automakers, the deal would adopt separate fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks and try to preserve domestic production of fuel-efficient cars, lobbyists said. This would be in line with a letter House Energy and Commerce Chairman Dingell sent Speaker Pelosi this month indicating his willingness to accept fuel efficiency that uses the Senate plan as its base while incorporating changes sought by automakers. Congressional aides say negotiations continue. Lawmakers might take up an energy bill as early as next week. Pelosi issued a statement Monday indicating that lawmakers have made “significant progress toward completing the package and hope to have a final agreement next week.” Aides have an internal deadline of Wednesday evening to finish an energy bill so it can be officially drafted and reviewed by lawmakers, lobbyists said. —by Darren Goode