Friday, October 05, 2007

Stage Set for Conference Committee Negotiations on Federal Energy Legislation

Congressional staffers have started preliminary talks in an effort to reconcile the separate energy bills passed by the House and Senate this summer. The discussions set the stage for conference committee negotiations later this fall, with the goal of producing a final federal energy bill before the end of the year.

Both the House and Senate passed competing versions of energy legislation earlier this summer.

The Senate bill, H.R. 6, was passed on June 21, 2007.

the House bill, H.R. 3221, was passed on August 4, 2007.

There are a number of major substantive differences between the two bills, and it remains to be seen whether a conference committee can reach a compromise that will meet with approval in both the House and Senate.

Some of the major issues to be resolved in committee include:
  • Federal Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS): The House bill requires utilities to produce 15% of their energy from renewable resources. A similar amendment to add a federal RPS to the Senate bill was blocked in the Senate.

  • CAFE Standards: The Senate bill requires CAFE regulations that achieve a combined standard for passenger cars and light trucks of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Efforts to improve CAFE standards were blocked in the House.
  • Tax Provisions: The House bill provides $15B in new and extended renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits, paid for primarily through repeal of tax-breaks and other subsidies for the oil & gas industry. Similar proposals were defeated in the Senate.

  • Biofuels Mandate: The Senate bill includes mandates for renewable fuel use (36 billion gallons by 2022) and advanced biofuels (21 billion gallons by 2022). The House bill does not contain mandates for biofuels.
President Bush has already threatened to veto the current Senate legislation and has also indicated that he would veto any legislation that includes a federal RPS.

No comments: