Everybody happy? Bush signs do-little energy bill

The opening line of the Detroit News story says all you need to know:

The House approved a stripped-down energy bill Tuesday and sent it to President George Bush.

Bush signed it today.

The headline is a 35-mpg CAFE standard for cars produced 13 years from now. Big whoop.

The best stuff in the bill is energy efficiency standards, including phasing out the incandescent light bulb.

The reality, however, is no removal of tax breaks for Big Oil; no 15% renewables standard for utilities; no plug-in hybrid incentives. Incentives for wind and solar were stripped out, as well, according to Sen. Boxer. “We’re pretty disappointed,” said Rhone A. Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, which sought an extension of the investment tax credit that expires at the end of next year.

But yes, there is a requirement for five times more ethanol than we now produce. “Clean tech” will have a place to throw some money, even if the environmental benefit is nil, the impact on petroleum usage minor, the impact on food prices unknown. As stated in the Washington Post story today, “For farmers and agribusiness, it is a windfall, providing more support than perhaps even the farm bill.” ‘Nuf said.

Why Nancy Pelosi calls the bill “a moment of change, of real change” is not yet clear. Most elements that would constitute a progressive energy bill seem to have been dropped out.

I can’t help thinking if carmakers are still producing masses of 20-something mpg cars and pickups and SUVs in 2020, something envisioned with a 35mpg average, we’re in big trouble.

Honestly, though, I think this standard will be overtaken by reality. Once a few plug-in hybrids and electric cars hit the market, and they will long before 2020, the relevance of these standards will disappear in the rearview mirror of reality.

— Marc G. – Plugs and Cars blog

5 Responses to Everybody happy? Bush signs do-little energy bill

  1. anony says:

    “Once a few plug-in hybrids and electric cars hit the market, and they will long before 2020”

    what is your timetable for both?

  2. Marc Geller says:

    I confess I’m trying to be optimistic. I don’t expect much, certainly not from a top-tier manufacturer, before late 2010.

  3. DocHolliday says:

    “Why Nancy Pelosi calls the bill “a moment of change, of real change” is not yet clear,” you say.

    Well, maybe it’s because CAFE limits have been increased for the first time in 20 years? Dunno. Perhaps it’s the fat stack of cash her friends at Archer Daniels Midland stand to receive? Is that momentous enought?

    Maybe it’s because there is a provision to waste billions on windmills and other nonsense, but not a mandate to pass the costs along to the consumers. Count me as one who’s glad she signed off on it.

    I’m not sure how others feel, but quite frankly with gasoline at $3.35 a gallon, I wasn’t real hip on the idea of tacking an extra $20 billion or so on domestic oil producers. I know it’s one of those “class warfare” thingees, we’re supposed to hate Lee Raymond and all… but I could use a frigging break on the cost of filling up my tank.

    Maybe if Uncle Sam didn’t already confiscate half my pay for income taxes, I might see things different. That’s right, amigos. I pay around 36% of my income for regular taxes and another 15% for being self-employed. That’s called “being progressive.” How some people get off complaining because Pelosi didn’t stick it to us even further boggles my mind.

    Anyway, the Sierra Club is protecting your interests here. They just blocked the construction of power lines from a wind farm and have started a big PR campaign against the construction of any new electric plants in my state.

    Since I don’t wanna appear selfish, let me put it this way: Having kids, I have to run the air conditioner from April through October or else I might face criminal neglect charges. It costs me $400 a month to keep my home at 78 degrees for those 6 months, Markie. How much more should I have to pay to make it “a moment of change” for you.

  4. Dano says:

    I have to run the air conditioner from April through October or else I might face criminal neglect charges.


    The economists look at ‘soft landings’ or ‘hard landings’ when our cheap energy era ends.

    Then what? Certainly there will be mass migrations away from places where you have to run your AC A-O, 24/7. And places like the Front Range with little water? Depopulation. Where will everyone go? And why will we want to live in more cramped quarters?

    Certainly births will drop, but will we all get along? What does history tell us? How will we work out the details? Judging from the denialists who post on this site, we haven’t learned to bargain, negotiate, talk as a society yet.

    Gonna be a loooong ride.



  5. Lou Grinzo says:

    Of course the lame standards in this law will be overtaken, by both economics and technology.

    Read Green Car Congress and you’ll see endless articles about plug-in hybrids and EV’s coming in just a few years, far beyond just the Chevy Volt, which seems to get all the attention. The shift of our transportation energy demand from oil to electrons is about to start, and it will radically change the energy landscape.

    And don’t forget the price of oil–even the IEA is openly talking about a “supply crunch in the 2012 time frame, and there’s widespread talk among mainstream analysts today of the US hitting gasoline prices in the high $3 to $4 range in just a few months unless OPEC is feeling generous. If you think the flight from light trucks to more efficient models has momentum now, wait until these factors kick in.

    The CAFE standards in this bill are a sad, pathetic joke, and I don’t know what’s worse, the possibility that lawmakers didn’t know what’s coming or that they knew and passed a do-nothing bill anyway in an effort to earn points with ignorant voters.