Dec. 14, 2007: Source – New York Times
The new energy bill continues its march forward after the U.S. Senate passed the legislation last evening in an 86-8 vote. But before it moved forward, the bill was stripped down of tax provisions adversely affecting the oil and utility industries. Two provisions—a $13 billion tax increase on oil companies and a mandate that all utilities produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources—were omitted from the legislation in order to gain pivotal Republican votes.
A consumer incentive to encourage the purchase of plug-in hybrid cars—in the form of a $3,000 tax credit—was also stripped from the bill. Plug-in hybrids are not yet available to car buyers, but the tax credit may have sped up their introduction to the market.
The core of the legislation, however, remained intact. It still contains the all-important 40 percent increase in fuel economy for cars and light trucks, along with a significant boost in the development and production of alternative energy sources, such as biofuels. The new fuel economy standards will take effect in 2011, and will hit a fleet average target of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The current fuel economy average is 27.2 miles per gallon for cars and 22.2 mpg for light trucks.
The revised bill now heads back to the House of Representatives for a vote early next week. The White House issued a statement saying President Bush would sign the bill once if passed by the House. Although the legislation was weakened, and is disappointing to some environmentalists seeking more dramatic reductions in fuel use, it is expected to quickly move through the House with little opposition.