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NEWS OF THE WEEK
GOVERNMENT
August 13, 2001
Volume 79, Number 33
CENEAR 79 33 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347
[Previous Story] [Next Story]

BROAD ENERGY BILL CLEARS HOUSE
Legislation's future is uncertain; many senators, environmentalists are opposed

BETTE HILEMAN

On Aug. 2, the House passed by a vote of 240 to 189 a wide-ranging energy bill (H.R. 4) that would expand fossil fuel production and endorses large portions of President George W. Bush's energy plan.

NIGHT LIGHTS Increasing the flow of oil and natural gas from offshore fields is one way of ramping up U.S. energy supplies.
"Unless we can deal with vehicle fuel efficiency, we will not reduce petroleum imports."

--Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)

The legislation includes about $33.5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives, spread over 10 years, 80% of which are aimed at increasing oil and gas exploration and production, developing clean coal-burning technologies, and promoting nuclear energy.

Also, the bill mandates a very small increase in vehicle fuel economy standards, raising them enough to save 5 billion gal of oil over six years, a little more per year than the 900 million gal that the U.S. uses in one day. The bill would also allow oil exploration on 2,000 acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, only the footprint of the actual drilling infrastructure, such as drilling platforms, is counted toward those 2,000 acres. The infrastructure, such as roads, needed for those operations could take up far more space.

The bill has provoked strong reactions among industry and environmental groups and among Democratic and moderate Republican senators, some of whom have introduced competing legislation.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) applauds the House for "starting the U.S. on the road to long-term energy security by passing H.R. 4." The bill's "energy supply and efficiency provisions would benefit the U.S. and its chemical industry by restoring balance to U.S. energy markets," ACC says.

But Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) says: "I remain committed to filibuster any effort to drill in the refuge. It will never pass the Senate." And Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced on Aug. 4 that they will introduce legislation placing an economy-wide cap on CO2 emissions (see page 29).

Meanwhile, other energy legislation is moving through Senate committees. A bill introduced by Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) would require that power derived from renewable sources be increased from 2.5% of the total output in 2002 to 20% in 2020.

Work on the bills will continue when the Senate reconvenes in September.



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