Dem Congress Scores Major Breakthrough on Energy Reform

The fact that the election of a Democratic Congress last fall has not yielded meaningful changes in the Iraq policy has helped engender a sentiment that this new Congress just isn't getting enough done. Though change in Iraq still appears difficult to achieve before a new President is sworn in a year from January, the Democrats continue to make headway in other areas, most recently energy reform.

Congressional negotiators reached a deal late Friday on energy legislation that would force American automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of their cars and light trucks by 40 percent by 2020.

The latest version of the measure, if it becomes law, will force wrenching changes on the American car companies, from design studios to new-car showrooms to executive suites. Automakers now have to achieve 27.5 miles per gallon on cars, a figure that has not changed since 1984, and 22.2 miles per gallon for light trucks, including minivans, sport utility vehicles and pickups. Under the compromise, the companies will retain the distinction between the classes of vehicles, but must still meet a combined 35 m.p.g. fleetwide standard.


The package will also include a requirement that most electric utilities produce 15 percent of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2020.

This bill doesn't do everything that one would hope such a bill would do, but its passage would represent a giant step forward that should not be understated. The Democratic Congress appears on path to achieve something that no other Congress in my lifetime and even longer has been able to: Enact legislation that will actually help move the country towards energy independence.

Republican Congresses of the past have passed major giveaways to the oil, coal and other related industries that have clearly done little to bring much-needed change. But the effort by the Democratic Congress to dramatically increase the fuel efficiency standards for cars sold in America, as well as to increase the amount of energy being produced from renewable sources, would get move America a lot further along in the path towards both energy independence and better stewardship of the the Earth.

Enactment of this proposal would not only mark a major win for the Democratic Congress, it would also mark a significant success for Nancy Pelosi, who apparently did something no other recent Speaker of either party has been able to do: Stare down John Dingell and come out ahead.

So while this deal doesn't appear to be perfect, and its passage wouldn't likely lessen the unhappiness of those who want above all to see change in Iraq (or those unhappy about FISA or whatever else), it does underscore an important point: Far from being a "Do Nothing Congress," as was the case with the 109th, this new Democratic Congress is continuing to bring some much needed change, including (but not limited to) an increase to the minimum wage, the enactment of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, a boost in student loans and now (potentially) serious energy reform.

Tags: 110th congress, Energy, energy independence, Energy Reform (all tags)



Re: Conservation?

For too long, Republicans have focused on energy production while ignoring conservation.

I hope Congressional Democrats have had the wisdom to extend / improve certain tax credits for energy conservation that expire at the end of 2007, including:
-long-term solar energy tax credits for industry and residential uses.
-conservation tax credits for homeowners who add insulation, energy efficient windows and doors, and energy efficient HVAC systems.

by Bear83 2007-11-30 07:46PM | 0 recs
I am really proud of Pelosi

tonight.  I heard she worked very hard for this.  

Will Bush sign it?  That would be extraordinary, given the historical context you lay out.  

by bookgrl 2007-11-30 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Dem Congress Scores Major Breakthrough on Ener

two questions:

1) anyone actually read the bill (or alternatively, an analysis from a reputable nonpartisan source)?

2) is the $16 billion in oil industry tax breaks in or out?

by selise 2007-11-30 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Dem Congress Scores Major Breakthrough on Ener

Automakers now have to achieve 27.5 miles per gallon on cars, a figure that has not changed since 1984

yet another thing bill clinton gets a pass on. tell me again how committed hillary is to the environment.

by jello 2007-11-30 09:32PM | 0 recs
This is a step forward

And something a close friend has worked very hard to get through.

Not perfect, but good. We should give a hand to all the people working on energy policy out far from the limelight.

by Coral 2007-12-01 03:34AM | 0 recs
buying farm votes

trying to make Dems popular in the plains

hope it works

real energy policy is a heavy lift yet to be made

by jwp26 2007-12-01 04:14AM | 0 recs


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