2008 Energy Bill: The Senate Must Have a Sense of Humour  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Green Chip Stocks is disappointed with the energy bill that has just passed through the US Senate, delivering big gains to the already heavily subsidised big oil companies and nothing for solar and wind power.

Another bill with the best of intentions bit the dust this week (at least in its original form) while big oil added another notch on its belt, squeezing out every last drop of influence from partisan politics. In the energy bill a measure for repealing tax breaks for large oil and gas companies and directing that funding to the renewable energy sector trembled and tumbled as the opposition won by a single vote.

But no worries, this filibuster is weak in the knees and buckled by letting the CAFE Standards slide through. And what a God send that is!

I mean nothing - absolutely nothing - could prepare us for the reality of peak oil, the caustic tide of global warming or WWIII over oil like the CAFE Standards. Just imagine the ramifications of our national fleet getting 35 mpg by 2020.

I know what you're thinking...

Who needs solar, geothermal, or wind power if your truck can get 22.2 mpg? Never mind the average light duty vehicle gets 21.6 mpg right now.

Exactly right! Bollocks to all that stuff.

Hell, over in Paris, according to the International Energy Agency, the average fuel consumption is 32.1 mpg. But, by golly, we're Americans, we like our fries honky tonk style and we certainly don't need to learn from Europe.

That would be utterly foolish. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing big oil wasn't getting the tax breaks they deserve, and, ye gods, even worse, the car in my driveway was a diesel powered European Ford Focus that ticks off 46 miles per gallon.

Why would I drive that when the new energy bill says I won't have to get 35 mpg until 2020? Wow, talk about progress...

EarthTimes notes that the geothermal energy sector has done better than its clean energy cousins, getting a mighty $95 million dollars. That would pay for about 10 minutes of our oil war in Iraq - what where the Senators thinking !
Late yesterday evening, the Senate passed an energy bill that "will advance geothermal research and development for decades to come," according to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), the trade association for the industry.

The Senate passed bill includes the "Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007." These provisions are based upon compromise language between House and Senate bills that sought to revitalize geothermal research in light of recent reports by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that show geothermal energy can be a major energy source in the future with continued federal support for market and technology advances.

The underlying bills were HR 2304, sponsored by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and S.1543 introduced by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Both had bipartisan co-sponsorship and support. The final provisions direct the Department of Energy to undertake a broad and aggressive research program to promote geothermal energy and authorize a total of $95 million annually for this new initiative.

Cryptogon sees a pattern - centralised energy systems will get government support, distributed energy systems ... not so much.
The point here is to make sure that individual clean power systems remain expensive and out of reach for most people. There’s going to be utility scale clean power, and you’re going to pay dearly for it. As for being able to call up your power company to tell them that their services will no longer be required, that’s probably always going to cost a fortune.

Via: Neutral Existence:

A new “scaled down” energy bill was passed through the senate last night and three of the most important items in the bill were taken out to appease oil funded republicans. Unfortunately our senators, democrats and republicans alike, failed our country and environment yet again by bowing to big oil and removing the most influential provisions and tax incentives this country has ever seen.

The tax incentives now set to expire in 2008 will end all federal tax credits on solar, wind and other alternative energy installations. No other tax incentive or provision has brought the solar industry closer to grid parity than this one and now it is gone. Grid parity is the point in which it will actually be cheaper to generate your own electricity on your roof than to buy from your local utility company. Now this idea is great for us, but bad for big business, (oil and coal) so of course, the lobbyist went to work on our republican senators and were apparently very affective at getting that tax break completely removed from the energy bill.

Second major blow to the renewable energy industry was the removal of the $22 billion dollar tax package designed to cut tax breaks for big oil companies and funnel the money towards the renewable energy industry. Of course this is bad for Big Oil considering how poor their financials are currently, (sarcasm: Big Oil showed record highs this year) so yet again the lobbyist went to work on our senators and “poof” the tax package is gone. Not only that, but Bush himself threatened to veto the entire bill if this tax package was not removed, showing yet again, a clear alliance with Big Oil and an unwillingness to do what is right.

Another major blow, was the removal of the alternative energy mandate which would have required all investor owned utility companies to get at least 15% of their electricity from alternative energy sources. Many utility companies complained that this would increase cost and again, “poof” another very influential and beneficial provision was removed from the energy bill.


Anonymous   says 12:54 PM

A few points.

First, a nit - EarthTimes didn't "note" the geothermal information -- rather, they posted a press release from the Geothermal Energy Association, so this can be expected to only have info about geothermal.

Second, from the text of the energy bill that Bush signed, accelerated geothermal R&D is actually getting a bit more than $95/year from 2008-2012 - It's getting $100 million annually. An additional $5 million chunk will go for international geothermal development, presumably to allow a technology exchange.

Third, accelerated solar R&D will get a total of $220 million over the same period, ramping up from $15 million in 2008 to $70 million in 2012.

Fourth, advanced hydrokinetic R&D (wave power etc.) gets $50 million per year from 2008 to 2012.

And, finally, the big winner in the accelerated R&D funding is "Energy Storage for Transportation and Electric Power." This will get $295 million annually for the 10-year period 2009-2018 spread over 6 programs, including basic R&D, applied R&D, energy storage research center, and demonstration programs.

Errr - thanks for the additional information.

It appears "notes" means something different in Wyoming than it does in Sydney - trying to come up with universally accepted English phrasing may be harder than I thought.

Another difference - $5 million wouldn't be called "quite a bit" down here - we'd call it a rounding error compared to the $13+ billion in taxpayer handouts the oil industry gets in tax breaks alone (let alone the hundreds of billions required to occupy the middle east).

However - I'm glad to see there is some money going into energy storage and ocean energy - these areas are important.

Dave Roberts has some more on the energy bill here - "Louisiana's Sen. Landrieu votes against party, for Big Oil" :


Anonymous   says 7:12 PM

Re: "notes," I'm in the news biz, so attribution is very important to me. It's important to me to know whether a news item came by dint of EarthTime's reporting, or if it was just a press release slapped up on a website.

Accuracy, too, is important. You quote me as saying $5 million is "quite a bit." Didn't say that. I just say it was "a bit more," which I think means "not very much" the world round.

Yes, this is chump change, the $100 million/year for geothermal. But as the GEA press release said, it's better than being zeroed out, which is what Bush did to the geothermal research program for 2 years running.

Fair enough - I read more into your original comment on geothermal than was justified - my apologies.

Anonymous   says 11:20 AM

Would somebody note LOUDLY and WIDELY that the better senate energy bill that failed by one (1) vote, the one that stripped big oil subsidies and shifted them to alternative energy sources, was the one John McCain was conveniently absent from... even though he was in DC!

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