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New Energy Bill Pays Lip-Service To Green Movement

Posted By G Living Staff Monkies On December 14, 2008 @ 1:17 am In Green Report / Media | No Comments

Many of the green-leaning blogs are excited about the new energy bill because it incorporates several somewhat progressive policies. The House of Representatives is exclaiming its virtues, while the Senate continues to make legislative sausage with the bill.

But what does it really mean?

Fuel Efficiency. One of the key features of the bill is the increase in fuel efficiency standards from 27 mpg (today) to 35 mpg by 2020. The problems are twofold. First: “standards” do not imply enforcement; the government won’t shut down GM if they don’t respond. Second: fuel efficiency applies only to passenger cars – not to the ubiquitous SUVs, because of a longstanding loophole exempting vehicles with a truck chassis. Current “light truck” efficiency stands at 20 mpg.

Another problem is that waiting until 2020 is simply too long. Twelve years to raise efficiency by 8 mpg? Get real. With our technology, we could do it by 2010. Finally, fuel efficiency is averaged over the entire fleet of vehicles – which means companies are still free to churn out the guzzlers.

How about a real progressive goal, like setting increasing targets for hybrid vehicles in the U.S. fleet each year from now until 2020 (i.e. we want 5% hybrids in 2010, 8% in 2011, 12 % in 2012, etc). And while we’re at it, let’s make a goal of phasing out internal combustion passenger vehicles by 2050. It seems that if U.S. manufacturers would put more effort in to hybridizing the fleet, it would increase fuel efficiency and help them financially.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think people want hybrids or better.

Tax Breaks. Another sticking point for the special business groups (I prefer “special business” to “special interest”) is the roll back of subsidies for the 5 largest oil companies. That’s right, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell Oil Co. all receive significant tax breaks from the U.S. government simply for doing business – all the while recording record breaking profits. The Bushies certainly won’t stand for a perceived tax hike.

Renewable Energy. The last tenet of the bill to be minced is the focus on sustainable energies. The Senate has already submarined the requirement that utilities get 15% of their energy from renewables, and the $21 billion in funding for alternative energy development is likely to be labeled “excessive spending.” The only areas that haven’t been torpedoed (yet) are tax credits for using alternative energy (including hybrids) and increasing biofuels in the national gas mix.

What can you do? Pay attention. And if you’ve got the time, drop your Senators an e- telling them what you think and what you want.

Check out auto tax credits here.


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