Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

President signs energy bill

Posted by Daniel Hall on December 19, 2007

From the Washington Post:

President Bush on Wednesday signed into law legislation meant to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil by raising fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, ordering a massive increase in the use of biofuels and phasing out sales of the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb popularized by Thomas Edison more than a century ago. …

The bill’s centerpiece is the boost in the minimum fuel-efficiency standard for passenger vehicles, the first to be passed by Congress since 1975. It requires new auto fleets to average 35 miles a gallon by 2020, a 40 percent increase from today’s 25-mile average. By 2020, the measure could reduce U.S. oil use by 1.1 million barrels a day, more than half the oil exported by Kuwait or Venezuela and equivalent of taking 28 million of today’s vehicles off the road. …

For farmers and agribusiness, it is a windfall, providing more support than perhaps even the farm bill. It doubles the use of corn-based ethanol — despite criticism that corn-based ethanol is driving up food prices, draining aquifers and exacerbating fertilizer runoff that is creating dead zones in many of the nation’s rivers. …

Not everyone was happy at the end of a year of haggling and lobbying. To secure passage for the bill, congressional leaders dropped a tax package that would have reduced breaks for the biggest oil and gas companies and extended breaks for wind and solar projects.

Green Car Congress has superb summaries of the bill’s provisions on CAFE standards and the biofuels mandate. Mike Giberson highlights the notable provisions affecting the electric power sector. My co-blogger previously mocked some of the bill’s more minor provisions. I will note that in my view one of the bill’s most valuable and least-discussed features is the more than $6.5 billion in energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) funding the bill appropriates for the next decade, including $1 billion for renewable energy programs and $2 billion for carbon capture and sequestration RD&D, both spread over the next 5 years.

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One Response to “President signs energy bill”

  1. [...] out incandescent bulbs by 2020! Ethanol in the gasoline! Fuel-efficiency standards for cars! Renewables research! What would you like? A bit of it’s in [...]

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