Democrats Propose Energy Bill

Dec. 3, 2007: Source – Forbes

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Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate have finally hammered out an energy bill they can agree on. The cornerstone of the proposal calls for raising corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, by 40 percent to a fleetwide average of 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020, up from today’s 27.5 miles per gallon for cars, and 22.5 miles per gallon for light trucks. Separate standards would be maintained for both classes of vehicles as long as an overall 35 miles per gallon is preserved. In other words, trucks could continue to have a lower fuel economy than cars, but cars would have to exceed 35 miles per gallon to make up the difference, and keep the average at or above the magic number.

Having gained the support of major automakers, the bill will now have to contend with the powerful lobbies of both, the utility and oil industries, as well as the veto power of President Bush, before having any chance of becoming a reality.

In a statement, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers chief Dave McCurdy said, "Upon adoption of this legislation, Congress will have established aggressive, nationwide fuel economy requirements, concluding a longstanding debate." The Alliance is the voice in Washington for 10 major automakers including Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota.

But the finer points of the bill are still being discussed, including a provision that requires the nation’s utility companies to obtain at least 15% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar. Heavy opposition is expected in this area from utilities such as Duke Energy and Southern Company, who insist that this measure may cause the price of power to spike drastically in some parts of the country. The bill is also expected to offer incentives for the production of vehicles that run on biofuels. Along those same lines, the measure may call for a mandate for a massive increase in biofuel production. The oil industry is opposed to such a measure.

Whether the energy bill is ultimately passed, and what it will be in its final form, is still up in the air. But having been negotiated to the point of Democratic agreement, and then endorsed by Detroit, makes the proposal a critical step in a greener direction.


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  • John Doe

    If the president vetos it, I hope he gets assassinated. I had thought this bill already passed. My main concern is that the 15% won’t be enforced which would be terrible. That is the only aspect of the bill that even will make much of any impact. That way that gas prices and consumers are buying right now, the average MPG will be well higher than what is preposed by 2020.

  • Hal Howell

    Regardless of whether the President vetoes this bill or not is NO reason to wish him dead. Period!! Shame on you for thinking such a thing.

  • John Doe

    I’m kidding. The point is that there would be no reason for such a thing. Maybe just impeached.

  • Tony

    Why would our “stupid prez” veto it? Every proposal in the bill (at least every one mentioned in the article) is a Bush proposal that has been opposed by congressional democrats since 2001.

    Just about the only variance is in the raising of fuel economy standards. He had been seeking congressional approval to set them as he wished. Instead, they specified where they should be set, but the numbers referred to above are basically the same as the numbers Bush has been talking about for six years.

    Where they may part ways are in the “finer points”. If, for example, a provision to require a certain percentage of electricity be generated by renewable sources, then obviously he would have to veto it, since such a provision would overstep the federal government’s authority and signing such a bill would theoretically be an impeachable offense.

    But as long as the bill doesn’t stray outside the bounds imposed by the constitution, and stays as consistent with Bush’s policy goals as the bill described by the article, there won’t be any veto.

  • TD

    That’s right Tony, Bush leads the way. That’s why for the last 7 years he has had the power to raise mileage standards, but has done nothing of the sort. That’s why he and the Congressional Republicans passed an energy bill with massive, massive subsidies for oil and gas, because, you know, at $100 a barrel and record profits lord knows they need help. At the same time the Bush administration has been doing nothing, absolutely nothing to aid the development of green technology. The only thing he had done is talk about fuel cell technology which is years away and will costs hundreds of billions of dollars to change the nation’s infrastructure to support it.

    It is true that Michigan Democrats have been opposed to increasing mileage standards and they should be ashamed of themselves. But to claim that the ideas in the energy bill are Bush’s is simply ridiculous.

    If he was really serious about ending America’s addiction to oil, he would raise the gas tax and use the proceeds to fund the Apollo Energy Plan sponsored by a number of Democrats. With wind, solar, tidal and oceanic heat pumps we could solve our energy problems, but it takes more than lip service.

  • Dog

    Its not really much of an improvement, considering its supposed to be by 2020. Congress should be increasing the number and amount of tax refunds given to people for purchasing hybrids. People need to realize that increasing auto standards doesn’t mean that all automotive plants will be shut down. It means that there will be new different jobs & opportunities. What about creating jobs that recycle old cars. The recycling industry is what needs to be promoted in the US. Our recycling is poor.

  • Gerald Shields

    I’m not sure the president will veto it since the election is next year. If the Republicans vote against it, the Democrats will most assuredly use that against them.

  • hoity toity

    toyota pisses me off

  • AP

    CAFE will only affect new vehicles, take forever to change them, and discourage people from buying them because of the increased vehicle price vs. paying for cheap gasoline It will do nothing to change the way people select their commute distance, how often they make trips, or car-pool. If CAFE is all we do, we will use more fuel 20 years from now than today.

    On the plus side, the politicians in Washington will benefit from the physical exercise of patting each other on the back.

  • Tony


    Bush does not have the power to raise mileage standards. To do so would require either an act of congress to raise the standards, as is included in this bill, or an act of congress to authorize the president to raise standards on his own. Bush has sought the latter literally since the day he took office in 2001. He has continually been rebuked, and while the Republicans were absolutely culpable, democrats to a person have repeatedly refused to pass the requisite legislation.

    The most important provision of the dems shiny new energy bill is something that Bush as continually supported, on the record. It is also something that they have had the power to bring about for every single day of Bush’s presidency. There has never been anywhere near enough opposition in the Republican delegation to either house to prevent passage of such a provision without the opposition of almost all democrats.

    As far as what Bush has or hasn’t done in 7 years, remember that the Prius, Hybrid Escape, and the other handful of similar vehicles on the market have shipped in the hundreds of thousands of units rather than the thousands of units as a direct result of Bush’s tax incentives, which had been opposed by every democrat in congress as well as Bush’s opponents in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential election.

    Similarly, the Chevy Volt, darling of many of those here, will be a production vehicle in 2010 as a result of Bush’s energy policy — and would have been a production vehicle by today had the legislation passed when originally proposed in 2001 instead of in 2005. And it would not even be a concept today if Gore or Kerry had been elected.