The Democratic Majority quickly abandoned any effort (if there ever even was a plan to exert force?) to keep the $13.5 billion renewable energy tax package in the final Energy Bill.
The tax package would have given greatly needed tax breaks to emerging clean energy industries and removed corporate loopholes and subsidies for big oil & gas. Further, a Democratic analysis showed that the $13.5 billion in taxes over 10 years amounted to ONLY 1.1 PERCENT of the net profits that five largest oil companies would be expected to earn given today's oil prices! The Democrats simply allowed the tax package to fall away rather than push – even just a little bit – for a filibuster. Check this list to see if your Congressman was one of the “shameful 40” who stood with big oil and gas, and hold him or her accountable.
The revised Energy Bill gained strong bipartisan support and passed 86-8, with none of the presidential candidates returning to vote AND Sen. Hagel (NE) not voting... anyone know why?
So, we now have a watered-down Energy Bill expected to return to the U.S. House, where it will likely pass easily as-is, and then move to the White House. The White House issued a statement yesterday afternoon that President Bush will NOT veto the bill; it could be signed into law even before Congress moves to its extremely long holiday recess!
Beyond the bitter aftertaste the intial vote, tax package removal, and final passage has left in our mouths, we can feel good about the increase in CAFÉ standards, RFS and the efficiency provisions included in the final bill. These were important steps in the right direction, just not enough by any means... and the dangers posed by other upcoming legislation such as the General Appropriations Bill are quite concerning (to say the least!)
All eyes shift to the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill now; it was voted out of the Senate Environment committee last week, and is expected to hit the Senate floor for a full vote in mid-February. It is absolutely critical that this bill does not suffer the same watered-down fate. What happens there will truly lay the ground for