Strict Standards Lost Opportunities with New Energy Bill

Thanks to the new energy bill, the U.S. will realize a cut in oil demand by 1.1 million barrels a day by 2020.

For the first time in three decades, Congress has moved decisively to decrease America’s oil dependency by raising fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to 35 miles per gallon on average. The 40 percent increase over the current fuel economy standard is slated to cut oil demand by 1.1 million barrels a day when fully implemented by 2020.

The Senate passed its version of the energy bill containing the fuel economy provision December 13. The bill, however, was stripped of two important environmental provisions, one of which would have required utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, and the other which would have eliminated huge tax breaks for oil companies. The two provisions were removed in response to a threatened veto from President Bush. Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the fuel economy gains an "historic accomplishment."

While the stripped-down energy bill might not be as green as its sponsors had hoped, it still represents forward progress. Environmentalists are hoping that a greener White House in 2008 will allow them the opportunity to revisit some of the policy changes pulled out of the bill this time around.

Sources: Reuters; Planet Ark