It appears the energy bill has been ‘greened’ a touch:
Heading toward a collision with the House and White House, the Senate sought Thursday to put an environmentally friendly stamp on its energy legislation as lawmakers and President Bush struggle to agree on an elusive national power policy.
In an effort to strengthen their hand in looming negotiations with the House, senators voted 52 to 48 to require power companies to use more renewable fuels like wind and solar power to generate electricity. At the same time, the Finance Committee approved a $14 billion tax incentive package that rewards alternative fuels and energy efficiency.
“Renewable energy will power our homes and businesses without polluting the air we breathe or the water we drink,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
But the Senate did not go as far as he and other Democrats had urged, rejecting by a vote of 53 to 47 a Democratic proposal to establish a goal of a 40 percent reduction in oil imports within 20 years. Critics had called the target unattainable and pointed to a provision that calls on the president to try to reduce oil consumption by one million barrels a day.
Yet the direction the Senate is taking on energy policy is putting it at odds with the House, where longtime oil industry allies have already produced a measure favoring traditional fossil fuels. The Bush administration also opposes the utility requirements approved by the Senate as well as the provision encouraging the drop in oil use.
Lawmakers acknowledged that the contents of the tax package, which provides an array of tax breaks for alternative power, hybrid vehicles and energy-efficient appliances and home construction, was purposefully written to provide a sharp contrast with the House, where the weight was on tax breaks for the traditional power industry.
“It was the greenest energy tax bill that the Finance Committee has ever done,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, about the tax plan expected to be incorporated in the overall energy legislation next week. “If it comes out in the middle, it might be all right.”
A.) Is this the same Energy Bill we have been talking about for, well, 5 years now?
B.) Are the additions a good use of money (I say yes, instinctively, but would like to hear your thoughts).
C.) Will this pass the Senate and then get killed in conference?