Senate Energy Bill Faces Opposition from Pro-Industry GOP in House
WASHINGTON For the third time in four years, the Senate is certain to produce an energy bill embraced by Republicans and Democrats. But its chance of becoming law depends on hard bargaining with House GOP leaders more favorable to industry.
After finishing most work on the Senate bill late last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist scheduled a final vote on the measure Tuesday. Both Republicans and Democrats predicted approval.
But the Senate bill deliberately skirts some of the most contentious energy issues facing Congress. The legislation says nothing about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, although that's a top priority of the Bush administration and House GOP leaders.
And unlike the House bill, it is silent on giving aid to larger oil companies and refiners who want protection against environmental lawsuits because one of their products, the gasoline additive MTBE, has contaminated drinking water in hundreds of communities. House leaders have insisted an MTBE waiver be part of energy legislation.
More environmentally friendly than the energy bill passed by the House in April, the Senate measure would funnel 40 percent of some $18 billion in tax breaks over 10 years to boost renewable energy sources such as wind and biomass. The Senate bill also would try to reduce energy consumption through tax incentives for efficient appliances and homes and for gas-electric hybrid cars.
Major provisions in the Senate energy bill, compared with a bill the House passed in April.
--Cost: $16 billion.
--Tax incentives: $18 billion, offset by $4.3 billion in new energy taxes, tilted toward conservation, alternative fuels and renewable energy sources.
--Ethanol: Requires use of 8 billion gallons annually in gasoline by 2012.
--Arctic refuge: Not included.
--Loan guarantees: For developing clean coal, new reactors, carbon capturing technologies.
--Offshore energy: Calls for inventory of Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas resources.
--Liquefied natural gas terminals: Establishes clear federal authority over siting LNG import terminals.
--Oil savings: Calls on president to find ways to reduce oil use by 1 million barrels a day by 2025.
--Daylight-saving time: Not included.
--Energy efficiency: Tax breaks for purchase of energy efficiency appliances, hybrid automobiles, building energy efficient homes.
--Electricity grids: Mandatory reliability standards and tax incentives for grid improvements.
--Cost: $8 billion (assumes $2.6 billion expected revenue from ANWR oil leases).
--Tax breaks: $8.1 billion over 10 years, almost all for traditional fossil fuels and electric utilities.
--Ethanol: Requires use of 5 billion gallons annually in gasoline by 2012
--Arctic Refuge: Approves oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
--Loan guarantees: Not included.
--Offshore energy: $2 billion in government support for research into ultra-deep water drilling.
--Liquefied natural gas terminals: Same.
--Oil saving: Not included.
--Daylight-saving time: Extends it by two months.
--Energy efficiency: Tax breaks for homeowners making energy-improvements
--Electricity grids: Same.
Source: Associated Press