H.R.6 (a.k.a the "Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act") passed in the Senate yesterday by an 86-8 margin. Nancy Pelosi and other House members say they will pass this bill shortly. President Bush today said he would sign this bill into law.
This morning, I spent some time delving into the specifics of the new Energy act to look at the key focus areas.
It seems the domestic automobile industry will be receiving a great deal of financial support for the pain of boosting fuel economy standards. Also of interest to me – the ocean and tidal research program, the interest in smart grids and renewable fuels infrastructure, the focus on energy efficiency (albeit with limited funding), the worker training program, and the targeted efforts on national energy security. The “abrupt climate change” bit killed me for some reason. More on what’s not in this bill (but what may be coming) later.
My summary of key aspects of the new energy act:
- Increasing the production of clean renewable fuels (via a 36 billion gallon mandate by 2022, of which 21 billion needs to come from non-corn-based advanced biofuels)
- Building renewable fuels infrastructure via research grants and a variety of studies, loan guarantees for renewable fuel facilities, and consumer-demand building activities with $200 million in total appropriations
- Promoting energy efficiency via EE lighting, developing efficiency standards for a variety of products, EE labeling for consumer electronics products, boosting industrial efficiency with an annual $200 million appropriation.
- Increasing the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles via R&D, grants and guarantees, focused on light-weight and plug-in vehicles (with $60 million annual appropriations for next six years), energy storage (with varying appropriations for different projects, totaling $230 million annually for next ten years) and advanced transportation technology (total $390 million annually for next five or six years)
- Modernizing the electricity grid and boosting smart-grid initiatives via R&D and assorted directives ($100 million annually for five years specific to smart-grid)
- Improving the energy performance of the Federal Government by essentially adopting all of the national policies that were cut from the original CLEAN Energy Act passed by the House
- Assisting state and local governments in boosting energy efficiency by increasing funding and appropriations and providing various directives
- Developing an energy efficiency and renewable energy worker training program, via state grants, research, training assistance and $100 million in funding
- Funding ocean and tidal energy program R&D with $50 million funding for each of next 10 years
- Promoting research on and deploying greenhouse gas capture and storage options, including technology demonstration and assessing national carbon storage capacity with $900 million appropriated over 5 years
- Further studies on GHG emissions from natural ecosystems
- Researching “abrupt climate change” including understanding indicators and mechanisms in order to improve climate models. Abrupt climate change in this context “means a change in the climate that occurs so rapidly or unexpectedly that human or natural systems have difficulty adapting to the climate as changed”. $10 million is appropriated for the research [Seriously? Let’s call this “The Day After Tomorrow” amendment.]
- Improving the performance of green buildings, including establishing the Office of High-Performance Green Buildings, coordinating R&D, developing standards and public outreach. $20 million over five years is allocated.
- Boosting fuel-economy standards (CAFE) to fleetwide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, establishes a corporate average fuel economy credit trading program and creates a “Fuel-star” program for cars similar to Energy-Star, R&D for advanced batteries and consumer awareness building programs. $125 million appropriated over 5 years
- Prohibiting price gouging
- Enhancing U.S. energy security including creation of global energy crisis response mechanisms, a regional Hemisphere Energy Cooperation Forum, adding Secretary of Energy to National Security Council and reporting on US energy security strategy
- Studying laws affecting the siting of privately owned electric distribution wires on and across public rights of way.