WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today lauded Senate passage of a historic energy bill that will raise the fuel economy standard, diversify the fuel supply, and increase energy efficiency.
The 86-8 vote came just hours after Domenici successfully urged the Senate to reject energy legislation that contained nearly $22 billion in tax increases on domestic oil and gas production. A bill containing those tax provisions would have faced a veto from President Bush, making it unlikely that an energy bill would have been enacted this year.
“Today’s action by the Senate is truly historic. There is no doubt that America must become less dependent on oil, particularly from foreign sources. By passing new, tough fuel economy standards as well as a renewable fuels standard, we will make major progress toward that goal,” Domenici said.
“The bill that the Senate passed today contains the priorities that I outlined at the beginning of our work and reflects the agreement that I made with the House of Representatives weeks ago. While the process to pass this bill was not easy, I am pleased that we have avoided provisions that would have increased costs for consumers while keeping those that will help America meet our energy challenges,” he continued.
The bill passed by the Senate will raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2020. The current CAFE standard is 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 22.5 miles per gallon for light trucks, a level which has been in place since 1985.
The energy bill adopted by the Senate increases the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which sets annual requirements for the amount of renewable fuels produced and used in motor vehicles. The expanded RFS requires 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2008 and increases to a 36 billion gallon requirement by 2022. Domenici has expressed concern that the RFS does not more fully promote advanced biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol, but is nonetheless pleased with the overall compromise reached.
The energy bill also requires increased energy efficiency standards for consumer appliances, such as dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators and freezers, and requires the federal government to substitute energy-efficient lighting for incandescent bulbs.
With Senate passage, the bill now heads back to the House of Representatives for approval.