Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Pass Landmark Energy Bill That Invests in America’s Future

Yesterday, Senate Democrats began the process of decreasing America’s dependence on oil. After Bush Republicans prevailed in protecting oil companies rather than promoting clean renewable energy, Democrats reached across the aisle to forge a compromise that protects America’s security and economic interests. Even with the compromise, outside conservation groups praised the efforts of Senate Democrats. The League of Conservation Voters wrote, “The U.S. Senate should be applauded for passing a much-needed energy bill that is a significant first step toward increasing fuel efficiency standards for our automobiles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. We urge President Bush to sign the bill.” However, the LCV also made clear, “[A]t a time when the oil industry is enjoying near-$100 per barrel oil and record profits, the Senate by one vote earlier today sided with Big Oil and against the American people and the environment. Voting 59-40, a minority of senators blocked an attempt to repeal billions of dollars in tax giveaways to the oil industry…”

The Senate Passed Energy Bill Significantly Increases Fuel Efficiency Standards. The measure increases automobile fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which in the aggregate will save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day. Overall the measure will help save consumers $22 billion at the pump, and will reduce annual greenhouse gases emissions by 196 million tons. [HR 6, 12/13/07]

The Senate Passed Bill Mandates the Nationwide Use of Renewable Sources of Energy In Auto Fuels. The measure requires the production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. In order to encourage the production of advanced biofuels, the standard requires that 21 billion gallons come from fuels that release at least 80 percent less global warming pollution than gasoline. In addition, the advanced biofuels requirement mandates 21 billion gallons be produced from advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. [HR 6, 12/13/07]

The Senate Passed Bill Encourages Greater Energy Efficiency. The measure calls for a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2015 in federal buildings, which could save upwards of 60 trillion BTU’s of energy, 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and almost $4 billion in taxpayer dollars. [HR 6, 12/13/07]

Leading Environmental and Conservation Organizations Praised the Efforts of Senate Democrats. A number of key environmental groups made statements in support of the Senate passed legislation. Below are just a few of those statements:

  • National Wildlife Federation: “Today the Senate passed an energy bill that helps reduce America’s oil dependency and takes an important step toward reducing global warming pollution. Unfortunately, the bill does not close $13 billion worth of tax loopholes and subsidies for the oil industry and reinvest the money in clean and renewable energy technologies. Earlier in the day, 40 Senators blocked the bill, forcing Senate leaders to jettison the tax provisions.” [National Wildlife Federation Press Release, 12/13/07]
  • Natural Resources Defense Council: “This bill is the first step in the fight against global warming. It’s not a substitute for a carbon cap, but it is necessary to put us on our way toward achieving the kind of reductions we need. Passing this legislation will give us a down payment toward fighting global warming. However, we are disappointed that the renewable electricity standard was removed from the final bill, since investing in renewable, efficient energy sources is critical to moving America beyond its oil addiction. We look forward to separate passage through Congress in the near future.” [Natural Resources Defense Council Press Release, 12/13/07]
  • Union of Concerned Scientists: “We’ve turned a corner. Congress has finally taken action to cut America’s oil dependence by giving the country more fuel efficient cars and trucks,” said Michelle Robinson, director of UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Now the only thing standing between Americans and relief at the pump is the president’s signature.” [Union of Concerned Scientists Press Release, 12/13/07]
  • Alliance to Save Energy: The Alliance to Save Energy urged swift House and White House approval of Senate Energy Bill as a ‘Christmas Present’ for U.S. Consumers. “The energy bill which we expect the Senate to adopt today, despite the deletion of the renewable electricity standard and other provisions supported by the Alliance, still represents the most significant energy-saving legislation this country has enjoyed in the last three decades and is a necessary down payment on actions needed to address global warming,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. [Alliance to Save Energy Press Release, 12/13/07]