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Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Energy bill covers lightbulbs to light trucks

December 19, 2007

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— Soon, you won't find those old-fashioned 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs in stores. You will be able to buy more energy-efficient appliances. And you will see labels on TVs and computers that tell you how much energy they consume.

You will see stickers on new cars that specify not only how many miles they get per gallon but how many greenhouse gases they emit. And when you pull up to the pump, you will fill your car with a mixture of gasoline and made-in-the-USA biofuel.

Those are some of the ways that the new energy bill will affect everyday life.

Congress on Tuesday gave final approval to the 822-page measure, sending it up Pennsylvania Avenue to President Bush in a hybrid Prius. Bush is scheduled to sign the bill, which includes the first congressional increase in vehicle fuel-economy standards in 32 years, at a ceremony Wednesday at the Energy Department.

Although the tougher miles-per-gallon rules have grabbed the headlines, the bill includes a number of lower-profile measures aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"In this bill, we ban by 2012 the famously inefficient 100-watt incandescent bulb," said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who co-sponsored that provision.

The House gave final approval to the measure, 314-100. The Senate approved it last week, 86-8. In addition to the 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for new cars and light trucks by 2020, for a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg, the bill requires a fivefold increase - to 36 billion gallons - in the amount of alternative home-grown fuels, such as ethanol, that must be added to the nation's gasoline supply by 2022.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has projected that the bill will reduce energy use by 7 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 9 percent in 2030. The Washington think tank has estimated it will save consumers and businesses more than $400 billion between now and 2030, "accounting for both energy cost savings and the moderately higher price of energy-efficient products."

Energy analysts project that, although the tougher miles-per-gallon rules will increase the price of a vehicle an estimated $1,500, consumers will save $5,000 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, once the new standards are fully implemented.

Not everyone agrees about the benefits to consumers.

"The vehicles that are going to meet this 35-mile-per-gallon standard in the year 2020 are probably going to cost $10,000 to $15,000 more than they do today," Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during the House debate.

Food-industry groups warn that the mandate for increased production of home-grown fuel, including corn-based ethanol, could drive up food prices. Scott Faber of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said the renewable fuel standard "won't give us cheaper gas, but it will give us costlier meat, milk and eggs."

The Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America issued a statement Tuesday citing the bill's potential to lower consumer costs but expressed concern about the record of two federal agencies charged with implementing the law - the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which implements fuel-economy standards, and the Department of Energy, which implements appliance efficiency standards.

"Congress deserves an initial 'A' for enacting a good new energy law, but their final grade will be determined by how the executive branch implements the new standards," said Gene Kimmelman, Consumers Union's vice president, federal and international policy.

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 2 months ago

Too bad those lightbulbs suck and lead to headaches and eye strain. Not only that, but they are severely toxic in comparison to standards.

Also, with Weststar, they will STILL only have a 6 month lifespan.

antney 7 years, 2 months ago

Finally, higher fuel standards for the auto industry. Congress was definitely setting the standard for US auto makers by sending the documents up in a Toyota Prius.

Joe Barton's concerns about price increases must be for the V8 Engine pickup or SUV that most of us can't afford anyway. Where'd you get your "probably" numbers Joe?

lounger 7 years, 2 months ago

"The vehicles that are going to meet this 35-mile-per-gallon standard in the year 2020 are probably going to cost $10,000 to $15,000 more than they do today," Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during the House debate.

Bogus, Bogus, Bogus! I cannot believe that this is being said in todays world. I bet his buddies in the oil industry really appreciate this Idle threat! We were supposed to have cars not only getting 35-40 miles per gallon on the average by the mid 1990's with 10% of vehicles being electric. Empty promises. And lastly if we are still as a mass population driving the same old (and I do mean O-L-D) Combustion engine in 2020 god help us! Totally irrisposible and Childish attitude twards the future for sure. We have to try harder and do more!!!

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