"Expansive Energy Bill Advances In Congress"

"A Senate energy bill was voted out of committee yesterday, but not before losing the support of two Democrats and a dozen leading environmental organizations.

The measure would be the third energy bill in four years -- not counting the huge energy provisions in this year's economic stimulus bill. Like the others, it is rife with controversy over new offshore drilling plans near Florida, the sharing of federal offshore oil and gas royalties, and a mandate for renewable energy that alternative-energy executives and environmentalists say is too weak. It would require 15 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2021, but would allow exemptions that would diminish that target.

The proposed bill would also create a new 'clean energy' financing agency that would extend subsidized loans and loan guarantees to a variety of projects, including nuclear plants. While it would set tough energy-efficiency standards for new buildings, it would also ease restrictions on the federal government's use of petroleum from Canadian tar sands, whose energy-intensive production generates more greenhouse gases than conventional oil. The bill would also create a 30 billion-barrel strategic reserve for refined petroleum products; the current reserve contains only crude oil."

Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post June 18, 2009.

Thursday, June 18, 2009