Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Save Your Energy

Looks like that energy bill is about to make it through Congress:

WASHINGTON, Tuesday, July 26 - House and Senate negotiators came to agreement on broad energy legislation early today, hoping they have put together an overhaul of national energy policy that can clear Congress after years of stalemate.

"We hope to have the bill on the House floor on Wednesday and I think the Senate is going to put it up on Thursday,'' said Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, as he concluded negotiations shortly before 3 a.m. Eastern time.

The measure touches on virtually every aspect of American energy production and consumption, including the electrical grid, hybrid cars, traditional oil and gas drilling, and incentives to develop new energy sources. But it does little to immediately lower the price of gasoline at the pump.

As one might expect, the bill's a mixed bag - a massive ethanol subsidy found its way in, to no one's surprise, though existing air pollution standards were upheld and the House's odious MTBE liability giveaway to the oil industry was cut in conference committee. I suppose this bill is somewhat more benign than most people were expecting from anything that had to pass through the straits of Joe Barton's House Energy Committee, but that doesn't excuse its failure to put any meaningful improvements to our nation's energy policy on the table. What would a sensible energy bill look like? It would probably have a lot fewer subsidies for oil producers, and substantial incentives for renewable energy production. Higher M.P.G. requirements combined with substantial tax breaks for solar, wind, and nuclear energy production and research seem to me like the best ways to decrease our reliance on autocratic petrostates abroad and to combat pollution here in America, but these measures are nowhere to be seen in the Congressional energy bill.


At 9:06 AM, Blogger Eric McErlain said...

That's not entirely true. There are a number of important incentives in the bill for nuclear energy that could help spur the construction of new plants, as well as funding for research into next generation reactor designs and the use of nuclear energy to produce hydrogen.

One last note: the bill also makes allowances to qualify nuclear energy for the very same production tax credit that renewables now enjoy.

For a list of provisions in the House bill that target nuclear energy, click here.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Nick said...

I stand corrected. The previous summaries I had read of the bill did not mention anything about the funding for hydrogen production, which sounds quite promising.


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