Senate begins to debate energy bill

The U.S. Senate began debate on a honkin’ new energy bill yesterday. In its current form, the bill would increase vehicle fuel-economy standards by up to 40 percent by 2020, significantly boost ethanol production (both corn and non-corn), promote green-collar job training, and mandate a reduction in imported-oil use by 10 million barrels a day by 2031. Let the amending begin! Coal-state Democrats want billions of dollars in loans and other incentives for the bane of greens’ existence, coal-to-liquid fuel. Republicans want incentives for domestic fossil-fuel production. One proposal in the works would weaken the bill’s fuel-economy goals, to the joy of the auto industry. An amendment may surface to make some businesses report annual greenhouse-gas emissions; another would require utilities to source 15 percent of their power from renewables. The White House has issued a statement opposing pretty much everything. The House will soon begin debating its version; Congress hopes to produce its grand finale before the Fourth of July recess.