Don’t You Hate Your Energy Bill?
After some two months of debate, the Senate energy bill passed by a vote of 88 to 11 yesterday, but no one’s very excited about it. Environmentalists and many Democrats say the bill would do little to encourage energy conservation or the use of renewable resources, while most Republicans and energy industry reps say it would not promote enough oil and gas exploration in the U.S. What would have been two of the most significant features of the bill — drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks — were voted down earlier. The version approved yesterday contains only modest pro-environment measures, such as a requirement that utilities produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020, and another banning the use of the gasoline additive MTBE. The bill will now go to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House version, which passed last year and is backed by the Bush administration.