Center for American Progress Action

STATEMENT: Senate Gives Green Light to Cleaner Cars and Fuels, Red Light to Renewable Electricity
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Senate Gives Green Light to Cleaner Cars and Fuels, Red Light to Renewable Electricity

By Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy

The imminent Senate passage of the energy bill gives the green light to more efficient cars and renewable fuels, but has a red light for renewable electricity from wind, solar, and other clean sources.

The Senate energy bill waves goodbye to gas guzzlers and welcomes plug-in hybrids. It relies less on energy from the Middle East and more from the Midwest. This bill turns away from black oil and toward the green promise of efficiency and renewables.

The energy bill would help America begin to end its oil addiction. Fuel economy standards would be increased for the first time since disco was king in 1975. When fully implemented, the 35 miles per gallon average standard for cars and light trucks would reduce oil use by over one million barrels daily and save drivers $22 billion annually by 2020. Had the standards been fully in effect in 2006, America would have used 2.5 million fewer barrels of oil daily and drivers would have saved $90 billion in lower fuel costs.

The bill also launches the next generation of cleaner, more energy efficient fuels, establishes efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and phases out incandescent light bulbs.

At the same time it steers transportation into the 21st century, the bill leaves electricity generation mired in the past. Senator Pete Domenici took the energy bill hostage until the demise of the renewable electricity standard and the production tax credit for wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. Thanks to a determined minority, electricity generation will continue to rely on heavily polluting coal and expensive natural gas.  We plan to work with Senate leaders to pass a renewable electricity standard as soon as possible in 2008.    

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid provided inspirational leadership to pass an energy bill that boosted both fuel economy and renewable electricity. He was assisted by Senators Jeff Bingaman, Max Baucus, Charles Grassley, and others. After the House passes H.R. 6, President Bush must sign it into law. The United States can begin 2008 on the clean energy road to a low-carbon energy future. The health of our world depends on it.