Saturday, August 04, 2007

House Passes Major Energy Bills

The House of Representatives passed two bills today to promote energy security and renewable energy, though the White House has issued veto threats for both.

The first bill, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, passed 241-172 and requires electric utilities to use at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind or biofuels, urges new efficiency standards for appliances and lighting, authorizes special bonds for cities and counties to reduce energy demand, calls for more energy efficient "green" buildings, and instructs the Department of the Interior to look for ways to cut carbon emissions.

The second bill, the Renewable Energy Tax Act, passed 221-189 and revokes $16 billion in tax breaks to oil companies while offering tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy and conservation efforts. The legislation would also end a tax break for buying large SUVs, known as the "Hummer tax loophole" which allows people who buy some of the most expensive SUVs to write off much of the cost, and provides tax incentives for producing flex-fuel vehicles that can run on 85 percent ethanol and for gas station operators to install E-85 pumps.

Neither bill address fuel efficiency or ethanol, issues that will be thrashed in reconciliation with a similar measure the Senate passed in June.

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