US House passes its energy bill

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 7 -- US Senate Republicans on Dec. 7 refused to close debate on an energy bill passed by the US House of Representatives. The House energy bill appears headed for a filibuster in the Senate.

The House passed its version of an energy bill Dec. 6 by a vote of 253 to 181. The bill calls for stiffer automotive fuel efficiency requirements and a higher renewable fuel standard.

It would boost the use of ethanol five times compared with current levels by 2022 and would impose $13 billion in taxes on the majors.

The bill would stiffen the Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirement to an industry average of 35 mpg by 2020—marking the first fuel economy increase since 1975 when Congress passed the federal auto fuel economy measure. The proposed increase would be 40% higher than the current standard.

Previously, President George W. Bush threatened to veto energy legislation containing the provisions of the House energy bill.

White House, industry reacts
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino described the House-passed bill as "misguided."

"Their proposal would raise taxes and increase energy prices for Americans," she said. Previously, the White House called proposed taxes on oil majors as unfairly "punitive."

American Petroleum Institute Pres. Red Cavaney had urged House members to vote against the bill and to start over again on energy legislation.

"We are disappointed that this bill fails to recognize government projections that America's energy demand will increase 30% over the next 22 years, and that we will need all sources of energy, including oil and gas, to meet the country's needs," Cavaney said in a Dec. 5 letter to House members.

The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States said the oil and gas industry is concerned that tax increases as outlined in the legislation "will rob" energy producers of the capital needed to sustain energy production.

IPAMS Executive Director Marc Smith said he was pleased by the removed of land-use provisions that had been contained in an earlier version of the House bill.

"I think it's becoming increasingly unpopular to support policies that decrease our nation's domestic energy production and increase the cost consumers pay for energy," Smith said. "Congress is starting to get the message from business and consumers that in this period of economic uncertainty, they don't want less domestic energy production; they want more."

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