The US Senate debated an energy bill yesterday that would raise auto fuel economy standards for the first time in nearly 20 years and make oil industry price gouging a federal crime.

Democratic leaders in both the Senate and House said they want broad energy legislation passed before the Fourth of July congressional recess, hoping to dampen growing voter anger over paying well above $3 a gallon at gasoline pumps across the country.

The Senate bill urges automakers to boost their fuel economy to a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, about a 40 percent increase over what new cars and the less fuel-efficient SUVs and pickup trucks are required to attain today. The auto standard of 27.5 mpg was last increased 18 years ago. SUVs and small trucks must achieve a fleet average of 22.2 mpg.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday the bill would help reduce the country’s reliance on oil – an addiction that consumes more than 21 million barrels a day, nearly two-thirds of it imported.

Typically, the White House issued a statement opposing many of the bill’s most critical parts, including the mandatory increase in automobile fuel economy. It also said President Bush would be urged to veto the legislation if it contained the price-gouging language.

Bush should have stayed in Albania where the local loved him so much one of them even stole his watch.


  • This new energy bill is a grab-bag of disparate energy and environmental “fixes”. There appears to be little or no comprehensive, long-term planning. The Congress lacks the skills for it, and the administrative lacks the will (as did the Clinton administration). The nation — and the world– is at a juncture where a policy commission (cabinet level?) needs to be established, insulated from political interference, whose function and charge extend beyond a particular adminisitration. The Federal Reserve System board may be a model. The US Energy department won’t work; its leadship is a creature of the Federal Executive.

  • I couldn’t agree with the previous poster more than when he says: “The Congress lacks the skills for long-term planning, and the administrative lacks the will (as did the Clinton administration.”

    Where would anyone in Congress have acquired such skills, and what would have encouraged them to do so?

    However, I disagree with the implication that this administration has the skills but “lacks the will for long-term comprehensive planning..” Does anyone out there want this federal government doing any long-term comprehensive planning for them? I just want this federal government to go home.

    I’d rather we didn’t let them talke all the money with them, and that’s a very real problem, but I’d be relieved right now if they just went home. We shouldn’t fantasize that it’s gonna be that easy, especially since they’ve got all the money, and that’s a real problem. Antonia Yujas has won some astounding victories at making some of give some back, and I’d like to hear more about how she and her allies won them. Hers is a kind of political interference I’d like to see much more of.

    I’d also like to see a lot more interference and organization, not by competing campaign donors but, at the grassroots level.

    The last thing I wanta see is George Bush, Inc., or anymore federal syndicatos, deciding they’ve gathered enough force around them to announce that we’ve reached “a juncture where a policy commission (cabinet level?) needs to be established insulated from political interference, whose function and charge extend beyond a particular adminisitration.” That sounds way too Homeland Security for me.

    Does anyone imagine that, if this administration were any more “insulated from political interference” than it already is, it would suddenly defend us from our own short-sighted folly with some sort of green, environmentally fierce, authoritarianism, and humane disaster management? Like its response to the hurricane and flood almost two years ago now? Or like George Bush’s long-awaited commitment to stop global warming, which inspired him to say that he wanted to find some cleaner ways of burning coal, after which California Senator Barbara Boxer said breathlessly that “this is so exciting”?

    I don’t mean to foster despair here. I live in the City of San Francisco and this place has a far uglier underbelly than I ever realized before the past few years, but our Board of Supervisors also just passed some long and hard won legislation to begin building muncipal solar, wind, and tidal power, a major infrastructural undertaking.

    And my own neighbors and neighborhood merchants are organizing in the interests of fair trade, energy efficiency, and clean power. We’re even talking about drilling up some of our sidewalks to plant some green stuff in their place.

    There’s a farmer’s market at the center of my neighborhood on Saturdays, and the kids at my favorite convenience store are poring over lists of wholesalers that sell fair trade, organic coffee and cocoa, and unbleached paper products. This kind of very concrete, day-to-day grassroots organization makes me hopeful.

    Insulating the wealth and power already vastly concentrated at the federal level is not, by nature, a green project.

    How’s about we instead be honest about what kind of fix we’re in, of who all’s making, and for what purposes, and, make the distribution of power, both political and energetic ne of our most fundamental goals. The distribution of power is essentially equivalent to the distribution of dignity, which is not to say that those who want so much power of every sort, all to themselves, have much of that.

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