On the Gutting-Room Floor
Clean-energy measures dropped as Congress reaches energy-bill compromise
Working into the wee hours Tuesday morning, House and Senate negotiators finished crafting a compromise federal energy bill, in the process killing two provisions intended to curb America’s fossil-fuel addiction. A Senate measure that would have required the president to find ways to reduce oil use by 1 million barrels a day by 2015 was dropped, along with another that would have required utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Negotiators also rebuffed efforts by lawmakers from some coastal states to remove a proposed offshore oil and gas inventory from the legislation. The tax-related elements of the bill are still being hammered out, but billions of dollars in tax breaks and other subsidies for oil and gas companies are expected to make it through. Meanwhile, farm-state politicians pushed through a plan to roughly double current ethanol production by 2012. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said the energy bill may get a House vote on Wednesday, and hit the Senate floor on Thursday — all part of the mad rush to get President Bush his domestic policy coup before Congress’ August recess.