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Previewing the Senate Energy Bill

A senior Senate source emails with this preview of what to expect in the chamber’s energy bill, which is expected to take shape in the coming weeks.

The legislation, which is still being cobbled together from a number of pending proposals, will, according to the source:

  • “help expedite cleanup of and recovery from the oil in the Gulf of Mexico, ensure that the polluters are held liable for damages caused, and put better systems in place to regulate deepwater drilling.
  • “create jobs and save consumers money through residential and commercial renovation incentives and by setting higher energy efficiency standards for new homes, products and appliances.
  • “set a national renewable electricity standard and provide new financing options for clean energy investments, including low-carbon power generation.
  • “improve the nation’s electricity grid and make it more likely that remotely generated renewable power will get to market.

- “decrease oil consumption by several million barrels per day and help electrify the transportation sector, as well as convert heavy duty fleets to cleaner fuels like natural gas

  • “eliminate major oil and gas subsidies and expand and extend incentives for consumers and businesses that want to invest in energy efficient buildings, clean power, alternative fuel vehicles, and domestically produced biofuels”

The source says “a large portion” of the bill will be pulled from the legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), which was approved by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee last summer.

One noticeable absence from the list: a cap on carbon emissions. While an economy-wide emissions cap has been all but written off by many in the Senate, there remains an ongoing effort among some lawmakers to include a utility-sector cap. Bingaman has said he is developing such a proposal, though he has reserved the right not to introduce the bill if there is not enough support for it. And Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have said they are open to compromising on their bill, which includes a broad cap on carbon.

Given this list, it appears that the bill will have two main big-ticket items: an oil spill response package and a renewable electricity standard, which would require that a certain percentage of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources like wind or solar.

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