Energy Bill Hangs by a Thread

After three years of Congressional work, the massive federal energy bill is two votes short of passage in the Senate. The bill was voted out of conference in November and quickly passed by the House. In the Senate, however, it fell two votes short of the 60 needed to end debate, mainly due to issues unrelated to energy policy such as liability waivers for toxic fuel additives. The Senate leadership is expected to bring it up again after Congress convenes at the end of January. The bill has been criticized from many sides as containing significant rollbacks of environmental rules, as constituting a pork barrel of subsidies for industries that scarcely need them, and as having been produced in a one-sided, partisan process that does not have true consensus. Leadership defends the bill as having many important provisions as well as measures needed to obtain sufficiently broad political support. As of this writing, its chances are highly unpredictable.

On the efficiency front, the bill contains helpful provisions on energy efficiency standards, tax incentives, and a few other provisions, but leaves out 75% of the potential savings it could achieve if it contained strong fuel economy standards and significant efficiency measures for the electricity sector. ACEEE's analysis of the efficiency aspects of the bill can be found at http://www.aceee.org/energy/nrglegistatus.htm.