Election 2008

New House Energy Bills Draw Mixed Reviews

August 08, 2007 01:29 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The House of Representatives passes legislation that changes standards for electric utilities and rescinds oil tax breaks, though the measures appear doomed to presidential veto.

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Two major provisions comprise the energy bills passed by the House. One bill requires investor-owned electric utilities to produce at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources such as wind and solar power.

A second bill eliminates $16 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry, redirecting the money to renewable energy and conservation.

These legislative developments have divided lawmakers, who disagree over potential benefits and adverse effects.

The tax provisions passed by a vote of 221-189; while the bill concerning the electric utilities provision passed by a vote of 241-172. A few Republicans and Democrats crossed party lines in both instances, illustrating how divisive an issue the future of American energy policy has become.

By and large, the Democrats praised the legislation, calling it a historic move to reduce America's dependence on fossil fuels and address global warming.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute talked of a "false idea" that a choice must be made between alternative and conventional energy, saying that "all forms of energy" will be necessary in the future.

The House bills must still be combined with energy measures the Senate passed earlier in 2007. In the context of partisan disagreements and President Bush's promise to veto the legislation, some lawmakers speculate that these energy debates could prove futile.

Headline

The House energy package is markedly different from the Senate version passed in June 2007. No automobile fuel efficiency standards were included in the House package. Democrats said the successful combination of the House's electricity standard and the Senate's fuel efficiency requirement would create the most significant energy legislation ever enacted by Congress.

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