President Signs Energy Bill; NYT Praises Dingell, Slams Landrieu

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Dec 2007 20:39:00 GMT

From the New York Times Editorial blog:
The Energy Bill: A Hero and a Villain

President Bush has just signed into law an energy bill that could have been even better but still remains an impressive achievement. The long struggle to produce that bill yielded the usual quotient of heroes and villains, but two deserve special mention:

John Dingell, who could have been a villain but chose to be a hero; and Mary Landrieu, who could have been a hero but chose to be a villain.

Mr. Dingell was a most unlikely hero. A Michigan Democrat and a reliable defender of the automobile industry, he had long resisted efforts to mandate new fuel efficiency standards, which had not been updated for more than 30 years.

But there has always been a softer, “greener” side to this crusty octogenarian that people often overlook. An architect of the original Clean Water Act of 1972, he cares a lot about wetlands preservation, endangered species and other environmental causes. He is also a fairly recent convert to the climate change issue, describing the global warming threat with phrases like “Hannibal is at the gates.”

So when Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, made a personal pledge to upgrade fuel efficiency standards, Mr. Dingell agreed, in exchange for one or two modest concessions, to get out of the way. He did more than that. When environmentalists complained that the Senate’s mandate for a huge increase in ethanol could threaten forests, wetlands and conservation areas, Mr. Dingell made sure the final bill contained the necessary safeguards. He also insisted on a provision requiring that ethanol from corn or any other source produce a net benefit in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms. Landrieu was an altogether different story. The Louisiana Democrat broke ranks with her Democratic colleagues and gave President Bush and the Republican leadership the one-vote margin they needed to strike a key provision that would have rescinded about $12 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry and shifted the money to research and development of cleaner sources of energy.

The White House argued that these tax breaks were necessary to insure the oil industry’s economic health and to protect consumers at the pump. Given industry’s $100 billion-per-year profits, these arguments were absurd on their face, but Ms. Landrieu promoted both of them and added one of her own: The energy bill was “one-sided policymaking” that left “Louisiana footing the bill.”

Never mind that the rest of the country is footing the bill for the repair and restoration of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That is a just and worthy cause and one that the nation is willing to help pay for. But isn’t reducing oil dependency and global warming emissions by rewarding traditional fossil fuels a bit less, and rewarding newer, cleaner fuels a bit more, also a just and worthy cause? One that Louisiana could help pay for? That is something Ms. Landrieu might ask herself the next time she puts her state’s interest ahead of the nation’s.

White House-Approved Energy Bill Passes Senate 86-8 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 Dec 2007 01:35:00 GMT

After Sen. Reid dropped the oil-for-renewable tax package following a failed cloture vote on the energy bill this morning, Republicans removed the filibuster threat and President Bush dropped his veto threat, having achieved a bill that met essentially all of the White House conditions.

This evening, the senatorial candidates having left the city, the Senate moved directly to a vote (ending debate by unanimous consent) on the final revision of the energy bill, which retains strengthened CAFE, appliance, and building standards, and a strong biofuels mandate with White House-approved tax adjustments for revenue.

The bill passed 86-8, Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.) joining seven Republicans (Wyoming, Oklahoma, Hatch, DeMint, and Kyl) in opposition.

Energy Bill Filibustered By One Vote: Reid To Drop Oil-for-Renewable Tax Package 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Dec 2007 15:00:00 GMT

By a roll call vote of 59-40, Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster threatened by Republicans of the compromise energy legislation which retained the tax package under veto threat but not the House-approved renewable energy standard. Sen. Reid plans to reintroduce a version of the energy bill which contains the CAFE and biofuels provisions later today.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was the only Democrat to vote with the Republicans. Coleman, Collins, Grassley, Hatch, Lugar, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, and Thune voted with the Democrats. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), on the campaign trail, was the one senator not voting.

Reid Announces New Energy Bill Compromise, Drops RES

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Dec 2007 19:53:00 GMT

To gain the 60 votes a cloture vote on the energy bill (H.R. 6) needs for success, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has dropped the Renewable Energy Standard provision from the package, which still contains the 35 MPG by 2020 CAFE standard, a 36 billion gallon by 2022 biofuels mandate, appliance and building efficiency standards, and a broad tax/green jobs package. The White House has threatened to veto the bill for the CAFE standards and tax package. Reid held a cloture vote on the House version last week, which failed by a vote of 53-42. The new cloture vote is scheduled for Thursday.

The tax package was reworked by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.

The reworked tax package, which remains at about $21 billion paid for mostly by closing loopholes that favor oil and gas companies, changes the terms of the renewable production tax credit extension. The extension is limited to two years but the cap on credit an individual project can receive is dropped.

Other modifications include a new category of tax exempt bonds for electric transmission facilities, a $2500 tax credit for plug-in hybrid conversion kits, and the removal of an incentive for the construction of natural gas distribution infrastructure. Enforcement of prevailing-wage restrictions under Davis-Bacon was also dropped.

The full description of the tax package (“The Clean Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007”) is below.

The Clean Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007

December 12, 2007

I. CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Extension and modification of Section 45. The proposal extends the placed-in-service date for two years (through December 31, 2010) for qualifying facilities: wind, closed-loop biomass; open-loop biomass; geothermal; small irrigation hydro; landfill gas; and trash combustion facilities. Also modifies the market value test for refined coal while increasing its emissions requirements for sulfur dioxide and mercury. The proposal also adds tidal energy as a qualifying resource and eliminates the third party sale rule for closed and open-loop biomass facilities. The proposal is estimated to cost $6.22 billion over ten years.

Long-term extension and modification of solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit. The bill extends the 30% investment tax credit for solar energy property and qualified fuel cell property and the 10% investment tax credit for microturbines for eight years (through the end of 2016). It also increases the $500 per half kilowatt of capacity cap for qualified fuel cells to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity. The bill removes an existing limitation that prevents public utilities from claiming the investment tax credit. The bill would also provide a new 10% investment tax credit for combined heat and power systems. The bill also allows these credits to be used to offset alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost $602 million over 10 years.

Long-term extension and modification of the residential energy-efficient property credit. The bill would extend the credit for residential solar property for six years (through the end of 2014). The bill would also increase the annual credit cap (currently capped at $2,000) to $4,000. The bill would include residential small wind equipment as property qualifying for this credit. The bill also allows the credit to be used to offset alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost approximately $317 million over ten years.

Sales of electric transmission property. The bill extends the present-law deferral of gain on sales of transmission property by vertically integrated electric utilities to FERC-approved independent transmission companies. Rather than recognizing the full amount of gain in the year of sale, this provision allows gain on such sales to be recognized ratably over an 8-year period. The rule applies to sales before January 1, 2010. This proposal is revenue neutral over 10 years.

Transmission Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax exempt bonds for electric transmission facilities. The bonds fall within the regular state private activity bond cap limitations. This proposal is estimated to cost $96 million over 10 years. New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”). The bill authorizes $2 billion of new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from the following resources: wind; closed-loop biomass; open-loop biomass; geothermal; small irrigation; hydropower; landfill gas; marine renewable; and trash combustion facilities. This $2 billion authorization will be subdivided into thirds: 1/3 will be available for qualifying projects of State/local/tribal governments; 1/3 for qualifying projects of public power providers; and 1/3 for qualifying projects of electric cooperatives. This proposal is estimated to cost $550 million over 10 years.

CARBON MITIGATION AND COAL

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) demonstration projects. The bill would provide $2 billion of tax credits for the creation of advanced coal electricity projects and certain coal gasification projects that demonstrate the greatest potential for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. Of these $2 billion of incentives, $1.5 billion would be awarded to advanced coal electricity projects and $500 million would be awarded to certain coal gasification projects. These tax credits would be awarded by Treasury through an application process, with the applicants that demonstrate the greatest carbon capture and sequestration percentage of total CO2 emissions receiving the highest priority. Applications will not be considered unless applicants can demonstrate that either their advanced coal electricity project would capture and sequester at least 65% of the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions or that their coal gasification project would capture and sequester at least 75% of the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions. Once these credits are awarded, recipients that fail to meet these minimum levels of carbon capture and sequestration would forfeit their tax credits. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.794 billion over 10 years.

Accelerated depreciation for CO2 pipelines. In order to facilitate the creation of infrastructure to transport captured CO2 to suitable sequestration sites, the bill would allow taxpayers to write-off the cost of CO2 pipelines that are installed after the date of enactment and before January 1, 2011 using accelerated depreciation over a seven-year period (as opposed to the 15-year period allowed under current law). This proposal is estimated to cost $50 million over 10 years.

Solvency for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. The bill would enact the President’s proposal to bring the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund out of debt. Under current law, an excise tax is imposed on coal at a rate of $1.10 per ton for coal from underground mines and $0.55 per ton for coal from surface mines (aggregate tax per ton capped at 4.4 percent of the amount sold by the producer). Receipts from this tax are deposited in the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which is used to pay compensation, medical and survivor benefits to eligible miners and their survivors and to cover costs of program administration. The Trust Fund is permitted to borrow from the general fund any amounts necessary to make authorized expenditures if excise tax receipts do not provide sufficient funding. Reduced rates of excise tax apply after the earlier of December 31, 2013 or the date on which the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has repaid, with interest, all amounts borrowed from the general fund of the Treasury. The President’s Budget proposes that the current excise tax rate should continue to apply beyond 2013 until all amounts borrowed from the general fund of the Treasury have been repaid with interest. After repayment, the reduced excise tax rates of $0.50 per ton for coal from underground mines and $0.25 per ton for coal from surface mines would apply (aggregate tax per ton capped at 2 percent of the amount sold by the producer). The bill would enact the President’s proposal (with a reduced rate after 2017). This proposal is estimated to raise $966 million over 10 years.

Refund of certain coal excise taxes unconstitutionally collected from exporters. The Courts have determined that the Export Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to the excise tax on exported coal and, therefore, such taxes are subject to a claim for refund. The bill would create a new procedure under which certain coal producers and exporters may claim a refund of these excise taxes that were imposed on coal exported from the United States. Under this procedure, coal producers or exporters that exported coal during the period beginning on or after October 1, 1990 and ending on or before the date of enactment of the bill, may obtain a refund (plus interest) from the Treasury of excise taxes paid on such exported coal and any interest accrued from the date of overpayment. This proposal is estimated to cost $120 million over 10 years.

Carbon audit of the tax code. The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to request that the National Academy of Sciences undertake a comprehensive review of the tax code to identify the types of specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects. This proposal has no revenue effect.

II. TRANSPORTATION AND DOMESTIC FUEL SECURITY

BIOFUELS

Cellulosic alcohol production credit. The bill creates a new production tax credit for cellulosic alcohol produced for use as a fuel. The amount of this credit is equal to the difference between $1.01 per gallon and the per gallon ethanol blender tax credit (currently 51 cents per gallon). For example, this credit would be $1.01 per gallon if the ethanol blender credit were to expire and would be 55 cents per gallon if the ethanol blender credit were reduced to 46 cents under a different provision in this bill. The credit may only be claimed on up to 60 million gallons per taxpayer. This credit would be available through the end of 2013. This proposal is estimated to cost $482 million over 10 years.

Expansion of allowance for property to produce cellulosic alcohol. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to immediately write off 50% of the cost of facilities that produce cellulosic ethanol if such facilities are placed in service before January 1, 2013. Consistent with other provisions in the bill that seek to be technology neutral, the bill would allow this write off to be available for the production of other cellulosic alcohols in addition to cellulosic ethanol. This proposal is estimated to cost $1 million over 10 years.

Coordination of ethanol blender credit with the renewable fuels standard (RFS). The bill ensures that the ethanol blender credit takes into account the additional incentive for the use of ethanol that the renewable fuel standard (RFS) provides. Upon the production or importation of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol in any calendar year, the 51 cent ethanol credit will be reduced to 46 cents per gallon. This proposal is estimated to raise $854 million over 10 years.

Extension of biodiesel production tax credit; extension and modification of renewable diesel tax credit. The bill extends for two years (through December 31, 2010) the $1.00 and 50 cent per gallon production tax credits for biodiesel and the small biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill also extends for two years (through December 31, 2010) the $1.00 per gallon production tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass. The bill eliminates the requirement that the diesel fuel must be produced using a thermal depolymerization process. As a result, the credit will be available for any diesel fuel created from biomass without regard to the process used so long as the fuel is usable as a fuel in vehicles [or as aviation jet fuel]. The bill also clarifies that the $1 per gallon production credit for renewable diesel is limited to diesel fuel that is produced solely from biomass. Diesel fuel that is created by co-processing biomass with other feedstocks (e.g., petroleum) will be eligible for the 50 cent per gallon tax credit for alternative fuels. Biodiesel that is imported and sold for export will not be eligible for the credit beginning the date of enactment. The proposal is estimated to cost $216 million over 10 years.

Refinery expensing. The proposal extends for two years (through January 1, 2013) the placed-in-service requirement and the building construction contract requirement through 2009. The proposal provides 50% bonus depreciation for costs incurred for a new refinery or an existing refinery to increase total capacity by 5% or process nonconventional feedstocks at a rate equal or greater to 25% of the total throughput of the refinery. The proposal is estimated to cost $922 billion over 10 years.

Comprehensive study of biofuels. The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to request that the National Academy of Sciences produce an analysis of current scientific findings relating to the future production of biofuels and the domestic effects of a dramatic increase in the production of biofuels. This proposal has no revenue effect.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY MOTOR VEHICLES

Plug-in electric drive vehicle credit. The bill establishes a new credit for each qualified plug-in electric drive vehicle placed in service during each taxable year by a taxpayer. The base amount of the credit is $3,000. If the qualified vehicle draws propulsion from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, the credit amount is increased by $200, plus another $200 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours up to 15 kilowatt hours. Taxpayers may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records 60,000 sales. The credit is reduced in following calendar quarters. The credit is available against the alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost $1.02 billion over 10 years.

Hybrid conversion kits. The proposal creates a 20% investment tax credit, capped at $2,500, for the cost of purchasing and installing a plug-in traction battery module used to convert a hybrid vehicle to a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The proposal expires December 31, 2010. The score for this proposal is incorporated in the score of the plug-in vehicle credit, above.

Incentives for idling reduction units and advanced insulation for heavy trucks. The bill provides an exemption from the heavy vehicle excise tax for the cost of idling reduction units, such as auxiliary power units (APUs), which are designed to eliminate the need for truck engine idling (e.g., to provide heating, air conditioning, or electricity) at vehicle rest stops or other temporary parking locations. The bill would also exempt the installation of advanced insulation, which can reduce the need for energy consumption by transportation vehicles carrying refrigerated cargo. Both of these exemptions are intended to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector. This proposal is estimated to cost $77 million over 10 years.

OTHER TRANSPORTATION PROVISIONS

Restructuring of New York Liberty Zone tax credits. The bill would implement a proposal included in the President’s FY 2008 Budget to provide the City of New York and the State of New York with tax credits for expenditures made for transportation infrastructure projects connecting with the New York Liberty Zone. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.106 billion over 10 years.

Fringe benefit for bicycle commuters. The bill allows employers to provide employees that commute to work using a bicycle limited fringe benefits to offset the costs of such commuting (e.g., bicycle storage). This proposal is estimated to cost $10 million over 10 years.

III. ENERGY CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY

CONSERVATION TAX CREDIT BONDS

Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax credit bonds for green community programs and initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is a national limitation of $3 billion which is allocated to States and municipalities. This proposal is estimated to cost $864 million over 10 years. Qualified Forestry Conservation Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax credit bonds for qualified forestry projects designed to acquire land subject to native fish habitat conservation plans for conservation purposes. This proposal is estimated to cost $161 million over 10 years.

EFFICIENCY

Extension and modification of credit for energy-efficiency improvements to existing homes. The bill extends the tax credits for energy-efficient existing homes for one year (through December 31, 2008) and includes energy-efficient biomass fuel stoves as a new class of energy-efficient property eligible for a consumer tax credit of $300. This proposal is estimated to cost $402 million over 10 years. Extension of energy-efficient commercial buildings. The bill extends the energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction for five years (through December 31, 2013). This proposal is estimated to cost $901 million over 10 years.

Modification and extension of energy-efficient appliance credit. The bill would modify the existing energy-efficient appliance credit and extend this credit for three years (through the end of 2010). This proposal is estimated to cost $344 million over 10 years. Seven-year depreciation for smart meters. The bill would allow electric utilities to depreciate smart electric meters over a seven-year period. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.02 billion over 10 years.

IV. OTHER PROVISIONS

FORESTRY PROVISIONS

One-year enactment of the Timber Revitalization and Economic Enhancement (TREE) Act of 2007. The bill would enact for one-year the provisions of H.R. 1937 and S. 402 to provide a deduction for qualified timber gains and to modernize certain provisions applicable to timber real estate investment trusts (REITs). This proposal is estimated to cost $435 million over 10 years.

OTHER

Income averaging for Exxon Valdez litigation amounts. The bill would allow commercial fishermen and other individuals whose livelihoods were negatively impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to average any settlement or judgment-related income that they receive in connection with pending litigation in the federal courts over three years for federal tax purposes. The bill would also allow these individuals to use these funds to make contributions to retirement accounts. This proposal is estimated to cost $215 million over 10 years.

Reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 and Payment in Lieu of Taxes. The bill would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program through 2011. It also adjusts the funding distribution formula to take into account historic payment levels to counties, average income levels in counties and acreage of federal land. Finally, the provision also provides for full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for 2009. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.863 billion over 10 years.

Offset the cost of increasing the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The bill would offset the revenue loss associated with the increase in the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The cost of increasing the CAFE standards has been estimated to cost $2.114 billion over 10 years.

V. REVENUE PROVISIONS

Modification to Section 199. The proposal excludes gross receipts of major integrated oil companies derived from the sale, exchange or other disposition of oil, natural gas, or any primary product thereof from the domestic production deduction for purposes of Section 199. Primary products do not include petrochemicals, medicinal products, insecticides, and alcohols. The proposal is estimated to raise $9.433 billion over 10 years.

7-year amortization of geological and geophysical expenditures for certain major integrated oil companies. The bill increases the amortization period for geological and geophysical expenditures (G&G costs) from five years to seven years for large integrated oil companies. This proposal is estimated to raise $103 million over 10 years. Clarification of foreign oil and gas extraction income. The tax code limits the ability of oil and gas companies to claim foreign tax credits with respect to foreign oil and gas extraction income. The bill would expand the present-law foreign oil and gas extraction income rules to apply to all foreign income from production and other activity related to the sale of oil and gas. This proposal is estimated to raise $3.187 billion over 10 years.

Modification of penalty for failure to file partnership returns. Currently, a penalty is imposed on partnerships that fail to timely file a return. The penalty amount is computed for each month the return is outstanding (not to exceed 5 months) and $50 multiplied by the number of partners. The proposal increases the maximum number of months from 5 to 12 and increases the multiple from $50 to $100. The proposal applies to returns filed after the date of enactment. The proposal raises $655 million over ten years. Interest suspension. The Internal Revenue Code suspends the accrual of certain penalties and interest starting 22 months after the filing of the tax return if the IRS has not sent the taxpayer a notice specifically stating the taxpayer’s liability and the basis for the liability within the specified period. The proposal repeals the suspension of certain penalties and interest. The proposal is estimated to raise $128 million over ten years.

Option to treat elective deferrals as after tax contributions. Governmental section 457(b) plans may include a qualified Roth contribution program under which plan participants are permitted to designate elective deferrals that could be otherwise deferred under the plan as Roth contributions subject to the present-law rules. Such a designated Roth contribution is includible in gross income in the year of deferral and a subsequent distribution of such contribution (and the income on such contributions) is excluded from gross income if the distribution is a qualified distribution. The proposal is effective for taxable years after December 31, 2007. The proposal is estimated to raise $1.035 billion over ten years.

REVENUE PROVISIONS IN THE PRESIDENT’S FY 2008 BUDGET

Basis reporting by brokers on sales of stock. The bill creates mandatory cost basis reporting by brokers for transactions involving publicly traded securities. Covered securities are generally stock, debt, commodities, derivatives and other items as specified by the Treasury Secretary, which are acquired in the account or transferred to the account managed by the broker. The President’s FY 2008 Budget recommends that Congress require basis reporting on security sales. The Treasury Department explains that this proposal is necessary because “compliance increases significantly for amounts that a third party reports to the IRS. The potential for non-compliance on sales of securities is considerable under current law, because the taxpayer’s basis is not reported to the IRS. Requiring brokers to maintain records of the adjusted basis of securities sold by their customers and report this information to the IRS would increase compliance with capital gains reporting. In addition, such a requirement would provide significant simplification benefits by relieving taxpayers from the often complicated task of calculating adjusted basis to determine gain or loss on the sale of securities.” The provision applies to stock acquired after January 1, 2009 and after January 1, 2011 for all other instruments. This proposal is estimated to raise $4.106 billion over 10 years.

Extend FUTA taxes for one year. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (“FUTA”) imposes a 6.2 percent gross tax rate on the first $7,000 paid annually by covered employers to each employee. In 1976, Congress passed a temporary surtax of 0.2 percent of taxable wages to be added to the permanent FUTA tax rate. The temporary surtax subsequently has been extended through 2007. The President’s FY 2008 Budget proposes extending the FUTA surtax. The Treasury Department states that “extending the surtax will support the continued solvency of the Federal unemployment trust funds and maintain the ability of the unemployment system to adjust to any economic downturns.” The bill would enact the President’s proposal for one year (through 2008). This provision is estimated to raise $1.446 billion over 10 years.

Cloture vote on H.R. 6, Energy Independence and Security Act and Debate on Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Dec 2007 14:00:00 GMT

A roll call vote is expected at about 9:20 am on the motion to invoke cloture on the energy bill as passed by the House of Representatives on December 6.

By a vote of of 53-42 the cloture motion failed.

The following Democrats voted against cloture:
  • Bayh (D-IN)
  • Byrd (D-WV)
  • Landrieu (D-LA)
The following Republicans voted for cloture:
  • Coleman (R-MN)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Smith (R-OR)
  • Snowe (R-ME)
  • Thune (R-SD)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for the earlier Senate version of H.R. 6, which included the CAFE standard, but not RES or the tax title:
  • Corker (R-TN)
  • Craig (R-ID)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Domenici (R-NM)
  • Ensign (R-NV)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Sessions (R-AL)
  • Specter (R-PA)
  • Stevens (R-AK)
  • Sununu (R-NH)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for energy tax provisions similar to those in the House version:
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Roberts (R-KS)

Following the vote, the chamber resumed consideration of the farm bill (HR 2419).

2007 Energy Act H.R. 6: On agreeing to the Senate amendments with amendments

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Dec 2007 20:00:00 GMT

Final vote on energy package. The bill passes 235-181. The Senate vote is scheduled for Saturday.

Democrats against:
  • Barrow
  • Boren
  • Boyd (FL)
  • Gene Green
  • Lampson
  • Marshall
  • Melancon
Republicans in favor:
  • Bono
  • Castle
  • Gerlach
  • Hayes
  • Johnson (IL)
  • Kirk
  • LaHood
  • LoBiondo
  • Ramstad
  • Reichert
  • Ros-Lehtinen
  • Shays
  • Smith (NJ)
  • Walden (OR)

Videos from the Speaker’s blog:

Speaker Pelosi: “Earlier today, some of you saw me reference this baseball, signed by Bobby Thompson, the ‘shot heard around the world,’ October 3, 1951. An historic day in baseball. When he signed this baseball, he referenced a phrase used by Ralph Waldo Emerson referencing the shot fired at Concord which began the Revolutionary War, the fight for American independence. If Bobby Thompson could reference a shot heard round the world, we should indeed be able to do it today. This vote on this legislation will be a shot heard ‘round the world for energy independence for America.’”
Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL) opens debate on the rule:
Rep. Welch: “Perhaps the best way to characterize what has been the US policy on energy is captured by looking at a photograph that serves as a metaphor. What it shows is the United States hand in hand with OPEC producers on whom we’ve become increasingly reliant and dependent, pursuing an energy policy of drill and drill, consume and consume, spend and spend, all with ever-escalating and budget-busting expense inflicted on our families and businesses, all with reckless denial – reckless denial – to the environmental damage that we are doing by this policy to the earth we all share, all with cavalier disregard to our national security by depending on regimes that are not our friends. Mr. Speaker, this bill brought before you does two fundamental things in changing the direction of energy policy…”
Rep. Ed Markey (MA-07), Chairman of the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, speaks in favor:
Rep. Markey: “This is an historic debate. This is an historic day in the history of the United States. Today we debate energy independence and global warming for the first time in a serious way in our history. This legislation will accomplish things that will send a signal to the world. In this bill we will increase the fuel economy standards of the vehicles Americans drive from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon. We will produce enough ethanol and cellulosic fuel that we can substitute for oil that by the year 2030 when both provisions are completely implemented we will be backing out twice the oil that we import on a daily basis from OPEC, from the Persian Gulf. What a signal to OPEC. Twice the oil from the Persian Gulf eliminated in one vote.”
Rep. George Miller (CA-07), Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, speaks in favor:
Rep. Miller: “This bill also creates over three million jobs in the green industry that are supported by this legislation, that encourages that investment in wind and biofuels, in solar energy. Those three million jobs, we’re eight years late coming to those jobs, but they’re in this legislation, and those jobs will be created in almost every sector of the economy, no matter what geographical area people live in, but we need to develop those skills. And I want to thank John Tierney and Hilda Solis for their efforts on that. This is what… where they told us to go to generate the next generation of innovation, of technology, was in energy and that’s where we’re going to go and America’s going to have a much better energy future as a result of this legislation.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-30), Chairman of the Oversight Committee, speaks in favor:
Rep. Waxman: “And there are some things this legislation will not do. It won’t diminish the EPA’s authority to address global warming, which the Supreme Court has recognized. It won’t seize authority from the states to act on global warming. President Bush has threatened to veto this bill because it takes away taxpayers subsidies to oil companies, and supports new renewable energy technologies. It’s time for the President to do what the American people want, not what the oil companies want.”
Rep. John Dingell (MI-15), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, speaks in favor:
Rep. Dingell: “I will be voting for this legislation because it contains a number of significant landmark achievements. It will raise fuel economy standards by 40%, to 35 miles per gallon. And it will do it in a way which achieves and protects American jobs, and it gives manufacturers proper flexibility in achieving our goals.”
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-12), Chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, speaks in favor:
Rep. Velázquez: “Small businesses are not just the most impacted by high energy costs, but small businesses are also leaders in domestic production of energy. They make up 80% of all renewable fuel producers in this country. This legislation makes them part of the solution. It does this by developing innovative new technologies, reduces carbon emission, increases clean renewable energy production, and modernizes our energy infrastructure.”

Democrats and Enviros Praise House Passage of Comprehensive Energy Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Dec 2007 19:40:00 GMT

By a vote of 235-181, the House of Representatives passed the version of H.R. 6 which contains both House and Senate provisions (CAFE of 35 MPG by 2020, RES of 15% by 2020, oil/gas rollback with PTC, green jobs, and other provisions, RFS).

Rep. Edward Markey:

Today marks the dawn of a future with less dependence on foreign oil, more renewable energy, and a safer climate. This bill marks a turning point away from America’s untenable path of reliance on dirty fossil fuels that pollute our planet and link us to dangerous foreign regimes and towards a new energy independence future.

Friends of the Earth:

This historic piece of legislation represents a paradigm shift in our nation’s approach to energy. The House of Representatives has voted to begin curbing our dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our global warming pollution. We applaud the bill’s passage in the House and commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi for standing up to special interests and ensuring that key provisions remained. This energy bill is not perfect – its fuel economy standards are too weak and its biofuels mandate too large – but, on balance, it represents a strong step forward. Especially important are a provision that will require all utilities to produce some of their energy from clean sources, such as wind and solar, and provisions that will end billions of dollars of subsidies for big oil and instead use these funds to hasten America’s transition to a clean energy future.

Sierra Club:

In January, Speaker Pelosi promised to deliver energy legislation that would put us on the road toward a new, clean energy future. The energy bill that the House passed today not only puts us on that road, but pushes the accelerator to the floor. It is a dramatic pivot away from the failed energy policies of the past and sets the stage for the Senate to flip the switch on America’s new energy future.

It is a bill of firsts: the first increase in fuel economy standards in more than three decades, the first national requirement for renewable energy, the first environmentally sensitive mandate for homegrown biofuels, and the first energy bill to provide billions for clean energy instead of shoveling subsidies to Big Oil and other polluters. Instead of a pork-laden monstrosity tailored to the needs of the dirty energy industry, this bill will give us clean electricity, greener cars, provide billions for clean energy instead of Big Oil’s bottom line, strengthen our economy, make us more secure, and begin to address the challenge of global warming. It is a tremendous achievement for the Congress, but more importantly, it is a victory for the hardworking American families who are now suffering as a result of decades of failed energy policies.

Energy Independence and Security Act Unveiled 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Dec 2007 14:23:00 GMT

House leadership is whipping votes today for the energy bill deal, to be entitled the Energy Independence and Security Act when introduced. Highlights of the deal:
  • CAFE Standard: Increase fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks
  • Renewable Fuels Standard: Multiple-source domestic biofuels mandate with environmental safeguards
  • Plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit and advanced vehicle incentives
  • Repeal of $21 billion in tax subsidies for gas and oil companies (H.R. 6), international tax loophole closed, rollback of 2005 Energy Act tax breaks
  • Renewable Electricity Standard: 15% by 2020 (4% may be efficiency)
  • Efficiency Standards: new appliance and building standards
  • Renewable Production Tax Credit and other incentives: extends existing PTC, funds renewable research, provides renewable energy bonds for power providers
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program
  • Incentives for small business development of renewable energy technology
  • Carbon Capture and Sequestration: R&D and clean coal incentives

Full details of the legislation are below the fold.

Energy Independence and Security Act

The New Direction Congress is poised to pass an ambitious legislative agenda to put us on a path toward energy independence—to strengthen national security, lower energy costs, grow our economy and create new jobs, and begin to reduce global warming. We are doing so by investing in the future of America with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Specifically, we are taking groundbreaking steps to increase the efficiency of our vehicles, making an historic commitment to American grown biofuels, requiring that 15 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources, and strengthening energy efficiency for a wide range of products, appliances, lighting and buildings to reduce energy costs to consumers. We are repealing tax breaks for profit-rich oil companies, so that we can invest in clean renewable energy and new American technologies. Not only would this reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the measure would also save consumers billions of dollars.

This agreement with the Senate builds on the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221, and H.R. 2776) passed this summer, which includes wide-ranging solutions from 10 House committees. With passage of this measure, we are reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change and increasing our energy independence. The House will move forward next year with the next major effort to reduce global warming.

Strengthen our National Security by Reducing our Dependence on Foreign Oil

Historic Fuel Economy Standards for Cars and Trucks, Endorsed by Environmentalists and the Automobile Industry. The price at the pump demands groundbreaking and historic provisions to increase fuel economy standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks. These provisions will save American families $700 – $1000 per year at the pump, with $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020 alone. This is the first increase by Congress since 1975 – marking a significant advancement in our efforts to address our energy security and laying the groundwork for climate legislation next year. The bill ensures that fuel economy standard will be reached, while offering flexibility to automakers and ensuring that we keep American manufacturing jobs and continue domestic production of smaller vehicles. It will reduce oil consumption by 1.1 million gallons per day in 2020 (one-half of what we currently import from the Persian Gulf), and reduce greenhouse gases equal to taking 28 million of today’s average cars and trucks off the road.

Renewable Fuels Standard/Historic Commitment to Homegrown Biofuels. The initiative includes a historic commitment to American biofuels that will fuel our cars and trucks – with a robust increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard. This isn’t just about the Midwest – this is about diversifying our energy crops from coast to coast. Whether it is sweet sorghum in Texas, rice straw in California, or corn stover in Minnesota, we will create American jobs and protect the environment. The measure ensures that biodiesel and cellulosic sources, such as switchgrass, are a key part of the increase. It includes critical environmental safeguards to ensure that the growth of homegrown fuels helps to reduce carbon emissions and does not degrade water or air quality or harm our lands and public health. The plan includes incentives to boost the production of biofuels and the number of Flex Fuel and other alternative fuel vehicles.

Incentives for Hybrids. It establishes a plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit for individuals and encourages the domestic development and production of advanced technology vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Repealing Big Oil Giveaways to Invest in Renewable Energy. The measure repeals about $21 billion in tax subsidies for Big Oil, mainly including provisions from H.R. 6, which passed the House in January, and the President’s budget. It closes a loophole written into the international tax bill (H.R. 4520) and rolls back the 2005 Energy Bill tax break for geological and geophysical expenditures.

Lower Energy Costs with Cleaner Energy, Greater Efficiency, and Smarter Technology

Historic Step – Electricity from Clean Renewable Sources. This provision, which was contained in the House-passed bill, requires utilities to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources – such as wind power, biomass, wave, tidal, geothermal and solar – by 2020. It permits utilities to meet up to 4 percent of their target through energy efficiency. A 15 percent Renewable Electricity Standard will reduce global warming emissions and lower energy prices and fossil fuel and natural gas consumption and is endorsed by a broad range of businesses, manufacturers, electric utilities, environmental, labor, farm, and faith-based organizations.

Landmark Energy Efficiency to Bring Down Costs. It includes landmark energy efficiency provisions that would save consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars through 2030. It would require more energy efficient appliances, such as dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators and freezers, and would speed up Energy Department action on new efficiency standards after six years of delay. It would require improved commercial and federal building energy efficiency and assist consumers in improving the efficiency of their homes.

Incentives for the Renewable Energy Economy. It strengthens and extends existing renewable energy tax credits, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, landfill gas and trash combustion, while creating new incentives for the use and production of renewable energy. It bolsters research on solar, geothermal, and marine renewable energy. The bill provides new clean renewable energy bonds for electric cooperatives and public power providers to install facilities that generate electricity from renewable resources.

Create New Jobs and Reduce Global Warming

A Skilled Green Workforce. This package creates an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program to train a quality workforce for “green” collar jobs – such as solar panel manufacturer and green building construction worker – created by federal renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Major investments in renewable energy could create 3 million green jobs over 10 years.

Small Businesses Leading in Renewable Energy. The bill increases loan limits to help small businesses develop energy efficient technologies and purchases; provides information to small businesses to reduce energy costs; and increases investment in small firms developing renewable energy solutions, recognizing the leadership of entrepreneurs in the alternative energy sector.

Energy Efficiency Reduces Carbon Dioxide. The landmark fuel efficiency standard, renewable electricity standard and energy efficiency provisions will not only save consumers and businesses money, but will also significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Making Coal Part of the Solution. This initiative takes aggressive steps on carbon capture and sequestration to come up with a cleaner way to use coal – authorizing a nationwide assessment of geological formations capable of sequestering carbon dioxide underground and expansive research and development, including large-volume sequestration tests in a variety of different geological formations. It includes incentives for clean coal, which for the first time ever include a requirement for carbon sequestration.

Congressional Leadership Announce Energy Bill Deal

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 01 Dec 2007 23:30:00 GMT

Friday afternoon the Democratic leadership in Congress announced the results of the energy bill negotiations that began in August and went into overdrive during the Thanksgiving recess, particularly once Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) signaled his willingness to support the 35 MPG CAFE standard as long as some technical provisions were included.

Speaker Pelosi:

CAFE will serve as the cornerstone of the energy legislation that will be on the House floor next week. We will achieve the major goal of increasing vehicle efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon in 2020, marking an historic advancement in our efforts in the Congress to address our energy security and laying strong groundwork for climate legislation next year. We are confident that this final product will win the support of the environmental, labor and manufacturing communities.

This landmark energy legislation will offer the automobile industry the certainty it needs, while offering flexibility to automakers and ensuring we keep American manufacturing jobs and continued domestic production of smaller vehicles.

This comprehensive package will also include an increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard and a Renewable Electricity Standard, among other key provisions.

Translation of Pelosi’s statement:

“Offering flexibility to automakers”: The flex-fuel credit will extend to 2014, and be phased out by 2020.

“Continued domestic production of smaller vehicles”: The standards will distinguish between foreign-made and domestic vehicles

“Among other key provisions”: the status of the oil/gas subsidy rollback and related tax package, including the Production Tax Credit, is still under negotiation.

Movement on Energy Bill Compromise 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 27 Nov 2007 22:21:00 GMT

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
Renewable Fuels Mandate
  • 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
PTC
  • 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

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