Senate Committee passes energy bill

| 6/19/2009 9:36:30 AM

On Wednesday a Senate committee approved an energy bill that many environmentalists criticized. The bill would open large areas close to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling and guaranteed a federal loan for an Alaska gas pipeline project.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 15-to-8 on the bill. Democrats on the committee pushed to require utilities to have 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2021, but the bill had exemptions that would reduce that goal.

This standard is considerably weaker than the House energy and climate bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, which is expected to be voted on in the House before the Congressional Fourth of July break.

The House bill is more progressive with more caps on greenhouse gas emissions and higher standards for renewable energy sources. The Senate bill is clearly a compromise between Democratic and Republican committee members. Republicans committee members fought for increased petroleum reserves, expanding drilling to within 45 miles of coastlines and increasing the number of nuclear energy facilities.

The Washington Post reported that a dozen environmental groups wrote a joint letter to the committee of opposition to the bill. The groups criticized the renewable energy standards of being too low and expressed concerns for wildlife off the west coast of Florida because the bill would allow more offshore oil and gas drilling.

The results of the House bill, which will likely be voted on first, could dramatically change the Senate bill that does not go as far with renewable energy or limiting greenhouse gases.

Ronald Thuemler
7/5/2009 5:02:41 PM

The June 30 article by Paul Krugman of the NY Times ("Deniers of facts betray the Earth")was blasted by many as being written by someone who knows very little about climate science and is a "left-wing" sympathizer. I think it's reasonable to acknowlesge that climate change has always been with us; it is notably the rate of change that's occured since the industrial revolution started that indicates man's adverse influence on the climate. The amount of Co2 we're adding to the atmosphere is reaching a threshold, and we must begin to address ways to reign in, in whatever ways we can, the pollutants we're putting into our atmosphere before we go past that "tipping point" and permanently damage our planet's health.

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