Kerry Says Historic Energy Bill Will Help Americans and Help the Environment
Senator John Kerry issued the following statement on the Senate's successful passage of comprehensive energy legislation, the National Energy and Environmental Security Act of 2007. The bill passed the Senate on a 65-27 vote, after Senator Kerry brokered a deal with Republicans and Democrats to improve vehicle mileage standards to 35 mpg over the next 10 years.
"This energy bill represents a long overdue break with the status quo and a first step towards a cleaner future where we break the stranglehold of foreign oil and address climate change," Kerry said. "It helps us cut down on use of polluting fossil fuels while simultaneously creating new incentives for alternative fuels and energy efficiency. It supports pioneering scientific efforts to trap the pollution emitted by burning coal. Finally, I am most proud of the first in a generation progress we made on improving the fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles. This was a long time coming and I look forward to a day when every car on the road is getting better mileage than it does today."
Kerry also welcomed provisions in the bill that would assist small businesses. "America's small business owners will now have a partner in Washington to help them reduce their energy costs and empower them to be on the front lines fighting global climate change," said Kerry, as Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Our provisions will provide the resources to help entrepreneurs conduct energy audits, access loans for investing in renewable energy, and ensure the Administration implements an energy efficiency information program that Congress enacted two years ago."
Below are some of the highlights of the legislation:
Reduce petroleum dependence. Establishes an escalating goal for reducing U.S. gasoline consumption, starting with 20 percent in 2017. That is enough to reduce world oil prices more than $2.50 barrel under current EIA assumptions and is five times the projected savings associated with drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The national goal for gasoline savings ramps up to 45 percent in 2030, equivalent to 5.6 million barrels of oil per day. That is more than twice the amount of oil the United States imported from the Persian Gulf in 2005. The legislation boosts renewable content in U.S. gasoline, starting at 8.5 billion gallons in 2008, to 36 billion gallons in 2022 with specific requirements for the production of advanced biofuels from new, more efficient feedstocks. That's enough to reduce projected U.S. oil imports a million barrels per day. In addition, the fuel economy improvements in passenger cars and light trucks would save 1.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 and fuel economy improvements to medium and heavy duty trucks would save an additional 300,000 barrels per day, putting America well on the way to achieving the gasoline savings goal. (Senate Energy Committee; Union of Concerned Scientists, "The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Bill," 5/07)
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The increased RFS is a positive step toward reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to combat the threat of global climate change. specifies that a renewable fuel included in the standard must emit 20 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional gasoline. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that biofuels easily meet, and sometimes dramatically exceed, this standard. Corn ethanol emits on average 21.8 percent fewer GHG emissions than conventional gasoline, biodiesel emits 67.7 percent fewer emissions, and cellulosic ethanol emits 90.9 percent fewer emissions. It would cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars by 15 to 18 percent by 2025, the equivalent of taking about 50 million cars off the road. Transportation emissions currently account for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (EPA, "Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Expanded Renewable and Alternative Fuels Use," 4/07; Union of Concerned Scientists, "The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Bill," 5/07; EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2007, data from Figure 92)
Reduce taxpayer money spent to power the federal government. The government will help drive markets for new renewables and efficiency technologies. Requires the federal government to purchase ten percent renewable electricity by 2010, increasing to 15 percent by 2015. It will also ramp-up federal building efficiency, requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use by 2015. Cumulatively, a 30 percent reduction is enough to save 60 trillion BTUs of energy, 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, and almost $4 billion in taxpayers' money. More efficient lighting and other electrical equipment in GSA buildings, would not only cut energy bills and reduce energy use for lighting but also reduce the amount of waste heat produced by lighting, as the GSA Administrator testified. This in turn will reduce air conditioning needed to cool a building and result in even greater energy savings. (Senate Energy Committee; Testimony before Senate EPW Committee, 3/28/07)
Boost consumer savings through energy efficiency. Lighting and common household appliances can drive as much as two-thirds of an average American family's electricity bills. By improving a number of efficiency standards, and streamlining and strengthening the Department of Energy's existing program, consumers stand to collect $12 billion in benefits. All together, the appliance efficiency provisions will save at least 50 billion kilowatt hours per year, or enough to power roughly 4.8 million typical U.S. households. The legislation will save 17 trillion BTUs of natural gas per year, or enough to heat about a quarter-million typical U.S. homes. And it will conserve at least 560 million gallons of water per day, or 1.3 percent of daily potable water usage across the nation. (Senate Energy Committee)
Boost consumer savings on gasoline. Would save consumers $41 billion by 2025 with gasoline at $2.00 per gallon, even after accounting for the extra cost of purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The additional investment of $1,100 per vehicle would be recovered in less than three years by the owner, faster when the price of gasoline is over $2.00 per gallon. Over the lifetime of the vehicle, the owner would save more than $3,600 in gasoline costs. (Union of Concerned Scientists, "The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Bill," 5/07)
Advance development of carbon capture and storage technology through innovation. Carbon capture and sequestration is key technology to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It may hold particular promise in reducing pollutants from power plants, since they produce an estimated one-third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Expands and improves the Department of Energy's existing research in this area, and requires a national assessment of capacity to sequester carbon. (Senate Energy Committee)
Small Business provisions added to the energy bill will:
Require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act;
Establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs);
Promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency;
Create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting;
Allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and
Establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.