The US Senate passed a broad energy bill late yesterday that will require the first big increase in fuel mileage requirements for passenger cars in American in more than two decades.

The vote, 65 to 27, was a major defeat for car manufacturers, which had fought for a much smaller increase in fuel economy standards and is expected to keep fighting.

But Senate Democrats also fell short of their own goals, reports the New York Times. In a victory for the oil industry, Republican lawmakers successfully blocked a crucial component of the Democratic plan that would have raised taxes on oil companies by about $32 billion and used the money on tax breaks for wind power, solar power, ethanol and other renewable fuels.

Republicans also blocked a provision of the legislation that would have required electric utilities to greatly increase the share of power they get from renewable sources of energy.

As a result, Senate Democrats had to settle for a bill that calls for a vast expansion of renewable fuels over the next decade — to 36 billion gallons a year of alternatives to gasoline — but does little to actually promote those fuels through tax breaks or other subsidies.

“This bill starts America on a path toward reducing our reliance on oil by increasing the nation’s use of renewable fuels,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader. Reid also accused the Republicans of doing the bidding of oil companies at a time when they are earning record profits.

What do you think of the Senate proposals? What more fiscal measures should be introduced against the oil companies? Send us your thoughts…


  • So, lets look at this thing for a second:

    First, while increasing fuel economy standards is undeniably long overdue, and any progress is better than nothing (which has been the case for the last 20 years), this bill sets a goal of 35mpg by 2020. Put another way, by the time my kindergardener enters college, the average fleet standard will be equivalent to the Honda Civic we drive now, and only slightly better than half as efficient as a Prius. Woopee.

    Oh, and of course the standard can be waived at the request of the auto industry if they determine that its causing them financial hardship. Uh oh.

    Second, the alternative fuels standard requirement relies heavily on corn ethanol and palm oil. Not very alternative, and not very helpful at all from a climate perspective (arguably worse, in fact).

    Finally, the best parts of the bill – that would have taxed the oil industry to fund renewables – got defeated.

    Looks like there is still plenty of work to do.

  • I dont see how you have all this information. The article does not tell us the title of the bill… how can we find it online and research it? Usually the short title of the bill is given, such as ““Biofuels for Energy Security and Transportation Act of 2007”

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