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Energy Bill Bound for Second Try in US Senate

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December 10, 2007

New York, NY - "If at first you don't succeed" describes the mood in the U.S. Senate, which this week will try for a second time to vote on the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007." Supporters say it could create 50,000 jobs in New York, provide savings for consumers and make for a healthier environment. The White House may not agree.

The energy bill, HR 6, sailed through the House on Thursday, only to be stopped by a filibuster in the Senate on Friday. As the wrangling continues, supporters say there's a lot at stake for New York. Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club says the state stands to gain new transit money and 50,000 new jobs keyed to renewable energy. But more than that, he says, cutting the nation's foreign oil dependence by a million barrels a day means tens of billions of dollars in savings.

"That will benefit consumers, save everyone money at the gas pump, save you money on your home's electricity bills. It's a step in the right direction and a big change."

The Senate is expected to vote on a revised version of the energy bill as early as Thursday. Environmental groups say the measure would deliver about 40 percent of the pollution cuts needed by the year 2030 in order to avert the most dangerous effects of global warming.

However, the bill is being opposed by a wide range of energy companies because it contains some $20 million in new or restored taxes on them, and it requires that 15 percent of the nation's electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2020. Still, Dorner says, the measure has won some powerful industrial support.

"Luckily, we came to an agreement with the auto industry, and the auto industry and labor unions are fully behind this bill. So it's a real choice: clean energy and the new energy economy, or a bunch of polluters who are intent on stopping progress at all costs."

This bill contains a number of provisions that President Bush called for in his State of the Union address, including an increase in fuel efficiency standards and support for biofuels. Yet the President hinted at a veto because he objects to the renewable standard and tax provisions. Dorner calls ending the $13 billion in oil industry tax breaks "a drop in the bucket" compared to the industry's windfall profits.

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY